In late November of 2005 I summited the small and unchallenging Sugarloaf Mountain outside Colorado Springs. It was late on a Sunday afternoon and I was starting to lose my sunlight. However, I could not help but admire the nearby summit of Vigil Peak from the top of Sugarloaf. It had an impressive east face that I knew would be out of my league. Still, the peak intrigued me and I thought there appeared to be an easier route up the west side of the summit spur. I headed back down Sugarloaf and drove farther onto the Bear Trap Ranch. At the visitor center I met the caretaker and his wife. I first asked permission to be on their property and if it was OK to attempt Vigil. They were more than gracious to me and stated that they were fine with visitors on the ranch. After they gave me directions I went down to the trailhead, but decided to put Vigil off for another day due the waning light. I returned to Vigil on December 1 when I had a day off of work. I quickly made my way up the beginning of the trail in a light snowfall with the sun peaking in and out all day. It reminded me of a Better Than Ezra song, “Cry In The Sun,” from the 90s that spoke about the devil beating his wife whenever it would snow with the sun out. Though a little macabre, it was fun humming the tune on the way up. The trail is very easy to follow and well maintained, even with 2-3 inches of snow on the ground. At the trail fork between Vigil and San Luis Peaks I was amazed to see a beautiful hand carved wood sign. Signs and frequent cairns are typical for the trails on these two peaks. I assume they are maintained by the caretakers of Bear Trap Ranch. Soon after leaving the fork and heading towards the summit of Vigil I reached the base of the first of two left to right rock outcroppings that are to the west of the summit. I worked my way around the east face of the first set of rocks and started some light bushwhacking to reach the west base of the summit spur. The snow was picking up, despite the patchy sunshine and I noticed that the rocks I was scrambling over were increasingly slippery. I felt that the north aspect of the spur would prove the least resistant, but I knew that it would be challenging. I picked my way to the ridge and gradually made my way up to what I estimated was 20-30 feet below the summit. There was a very narrow ledge to my left with a lot of air at this point between me and eternity. The ledge was covered in snow and I realized it would be stupid for me to continue, especially by myself and in far from optimal conditions. It is amazing the sobering effect that a loving wife and 4 children can have on you in a situation like this. Though discouraged, I turned around and headed down the trail to the San Luis fork. I had plenty of daylight remaining and went on to summit San Luis Peak that afternoon, despite “Crying In The Sun” on Vigil.
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