Last November I tried this hill twice in the span of less than a week and both attempts I was turned around by snow and difficult route finding. The first time I tried it by myself on election day after voting and only got part way up Shady Spring Gulch trying to attain the Magog ridge. (Shady Spring Gulch is the name given to this key part of the route on the Pikes Peak Atlas). A few days later I tried it with Mike Moerk, SP page maintainer for Cameron Cone. While we got much farther, we were still turned around just below the southeast ridge. I put the cone on the shelf and decided to wait until late spring or summer when conditions were better. June came faster than expected and I decided to go for it at the last minute when I had a rare weekday off of work. With my new GPS in hand I started up the short portion of the Barr Trail that you take at 7 a.m. and made quick time down to the Cog railway tracks and onto the wooded slope that leads to Shady Spring Gulch. As noted clearly on the route page by Mike it is key to cross the creek below the Cog at the right point. This will allow you to more easily find the trail that will lead you along the slope. Once I found this trail I made my way towards the crossing of Shady Spring. For the most part the trail was easy to follow, much easier than last November. Just as with the creek below, it is key to cross the gulch in the correct spot. There is a beautiful rock bridge that the trail lead me to and I easily crossed the gulch and started to head up to the Magog ridge. The trail seemed much clearer than back in November when I got this far with Mike. However, don't ask me how, but I lost it. About half way up to the Magog ridge I found myself off trail and bushwacking big time. I spent about 20 minutes cutting through brush and over rocks. Finally, I found myself back on the trail. I plugged in the waypoint for the return trip and headed up to the top of the ridge. Amazingly, this was the last time that I struggled with route finding on this climb. Getting to the top of Magog ridge is a spectacular place. Your first view of Pikes comes into play, along with all the surrounding peaks. There is also a great view into the deep Engleman Canyon that you climb out of. I took a short break and continued along the ridge past Magog and then Gog rocks. While I was able to keep to Mikes route, it would have been very difficult without previous time on the hill and my GPS. There are a lot of 4W dirt roads coming out of the Crystal Park development and they can be confusing. Once I reached the point of the last road and then the camtrail, I discovered that someone had been through the route from this point on and marked it with new ribbons that seeemingly encompassed all the colors of the rainbow. There were also a ton of new cairns on the route. This made the rest of the route finding extremely easy. I flew up to the southeast ridge and started to make my summit push. This was the tough part of the climb. It was the hottest day of the year so far and I was sweating bricks. The southeast ridge is a steep scree slope and is the classic example of two steps forward and one step back. Sticking to the northeast edge of the ridge is key. Within a half hour I made it to the summit. Finally, after three tries I made it the top of Cameron Cone. No longer would I have to shake a fist at her from my back deck as I had my morning coffee. While I had a great sense of accomplishment, I was a little disapointed with the summit. It was mostly tree covered and did not afford the views that other local hills, like Mt. Rosa and Blodgett Peak, give you. Still, this is a very rewarding climb and I was glad I did it. I was not able to spend too much time on the summit with some nasty clouds building in the west and coming over Pikes. I got a voice mail message from one of my employees in Woodland Park, which is about 15 miles to the west on the other side of Pikes. She wanted to let me know that they were getting dumped on with hail and a nasty thunderstorm and that I better get down fast. I flew down the route and made it back to my car in just over 1 1/2 hours. The climb up was just over 3. As soon as I finished my ritual strectches at the car the first pelt of hail hit me square in the head as I was getting into my 4Runner! Good timing.
Note: One route option that I would suggest allows you to totally avoid the Barr Trail. After crossing back over the creek below the Cog I continued on the trail that leads along the fence noted in Mikes route page. Rather than heading up to the Barr Trail, I stuck to this path and it spilled me out onto Ruxton Ave. This took at least 20-30 minutes off the trip back. With the pending storm it probably saved me a few welts from the hail!
Once again, as Mike has noted on his route page, I would not try this hill without good route finding skills, a compass and preferably a GPS. Mike has noted a lot of the key GPS coordinates on his page. If you have a GPS I would strongly recommend downloading them.
"No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he’ll keep coming back and back until one of you is dead."