McReynolds Peak (5.9)
"Devil's Playground Peak"
September 9, 2012
The Crew: Jen C and Brian Kalet
Faced with a beautiful day, I was stoked that Brian had suggested that we go and attempt the infamous McReynolds Peak. This peak is largely overlooked, and even though its popular neighbor Pikes sees countless ascents, its summit has only been graced by about a dozen parties. Although old mining facilities sit atop McReynolds, the actual summit has remained untouched due to the fact that the true highpoint is an imposing boulder that juts 40 feet out of the gentle plateau. Also, peak baggers had confused the actual highpoint due to the fact that the USGS quad was missing 2 contours, therefore showing the "summit" to be in a different location on the mountain's slopes. This confusion was finally solved in 2001 when a party including Gerry Roach climbed the formidable boulder, and found it to be the actual highpoint. They then moved the summit register to the top of the boulder, and McReynolds became one of the hardest ranked peaks over 12,000 feet in Colorado to reach the top of.
Driving up the Pikes Peak road, we found a nice pulloff at about 13,100' and rolled in. A faint trail led us toward McReynolds, and we soon found our goal in sight. We left the "trail", and dropped steeply down into the basin below. The marshes shown on the map allowed a relatively dry passage due to Wilson Reservoir's extremely low water level. The final push up to the summit plateau was easy and we soon stood below the summit boulder. I jinxed myself by thinking that it looked easier than I expected while I was harnessing up. As I led up the opening moves, it proved easy going at first but I quickly found myself staring up in confusion below the wide offwidth. The #6 fit nicely into the wide crack well above my head and provided a nice sense of toprope while I explored different ways to engage the final crack. Offwidthing is not my strength but I attempted it anyway. Finally tiring of flailing, I went for the insecure layback and soon found myself stepping up onto the summit. I plugged in a bomber anchor and read the familiar names in the register while Brian and Jen toproped the summit block. After we enjoyed the summit, they rappeled down, I cleaned the anchor and counter-balance-rappelled off of Brian leaving nothing on the summit. The hike out went smoothly and we hugged the ridgeline to help reduce our elevation gain. Once back at the car, we motored up to the top of Pikes and sauntered over to the highpoint. After a donut and hot chocolate, we ran up "Little Pikes" and "Devil's Playground Peak" and cruised home. Fall is in the air up high!
Photos can be found here.