Although this was an exceptionally fun hike, I definitely underestimated the difficulty of this mountain. Let me provide a couple warnings that others have made...
1. Route finding on this mountain is hard... both up and down. I honestly don't know how someone could make their way up and back with anything less than a GPS (or with a guide who has a high degree of familiarity with the region). It is the first time I was truly reliant on my GPS to get to the top of a mountain and back down.
2. This mountain is STEEP! Consistently steep. The last mile seemed to be almost a consistent 30 - 45 degree incline. Your legs will hurt the next day.
Despite these warnings, I have to say that this was still a very fun and rewarding climb. It has great, unique views to the east of Garden of the Gods and Crystal Park (the only way I will ever see Crystal Park I might add!). To the west Pikes Peak, Almagre, Big Tooth Resevoir, and Lake Moraine. Even to the south, there is a great view of Mt Rosa, Garfield, and Arthur.
Even though we climbed this in the fall (Oct 26th) from the Barr Trailhead, snow on the trail was minimal and spotty. Much to our surprise, in the snow that was there, we found bear footprints. We also found part of an animal skeleton near Magog Rock (just in time for Halloween!).
All in all, a great time, but extremely tiring. Be sure to bring plenty of water and food if you hike this deceptively difficult peak. I went through about 3 liters of water as did my two climbing partners. Also, be sure to sign the registry at the top. It's at the extreme southern side of the peak so be sure to look for it. The USGS marker has been broken off and was missing when we got there. Also, there were two summit registries instead of the usual one (not sure why). It looked like a LOT of people climbed this in 2007 (almost 50!)! I'm guessing The Gazette must have featured it or something as previous years only had one or two people in the registry!
Oh, and here are some quick stats:
Elevation gain: 4,000 feet
Length: 7.5 miles round trip (this may be off a bit as my GPS tracking was giving me fits)
Time: 8.5 hours/Roundtrip and 5 hours/Summit. Let me add that this mountain can be done faster. We stopped for lunch along the way and one of the members of our party was feeling sick. We also took a couple wrong turns on the way up and did some backtracking.
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