Mountain Sports

Beginner Mountain: Guide to Climbing Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak, mountain, snow-capped

Located in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in North America, Pikes Peak is thought to be the highest summit in the area. It is a popular choice for people who are considering going for mountain climbing. Surrounded by a forest, the peak rises to a height of 11, 115 ft. (or 4, 302 m) above sea level. It is covered with unique pink granite layers, named Pikes Peak granite. Due to this reason, it is also considered a National Landmark in the US.  Today, there are multiple ways to ascend the mountain, from railroads to hiking routes. Given the height and the treacherous path of this mountain peak, you would need to be well-informed before you attempt a climb.

The air at the top is quite thinner than normal, which makes breathing difficult, especially for people with pre-existing breathing problems. Besides that, high winds and cold temperatures are also a factor that can make your climb much riskier, albeit a lot more daring. Given the height of the mountain, snowfall is a possible occurrence at any time of the year. Hence, it goes without saying that you need to take several safety measures before you can start making memorable memories. However difficult the hike, once you do reach the snow-capped top of the peak, you would definitely be thrilled by the view around you, embellished by the presence of vast greenery extending in every direction. Below are some of the important things to keep in mind when you are climbing Pikes Peak.

Climbing Routes

There are essentially two climbing routes when it comes to ascending the mountain peak. One of the pathways is better suited for beginners and consumes less time, while the other is only recommended for experienced hikers, and takes up more time.

The first route, the Crags Trail, is not very popular. Although it involves a much shorter distance – an average of about 7 miles (one-way), it also presents pleasant scenery, mostly on the west side. There is not much crowd on this route most of the year. The path is mostly rocky, with some occasional forestry to be seen. There is minimal elevation here, which makes climbing even easier.

The second route, the Barr Trail, is the most well-known route to reach the summit. This is because it involves strenuous work and a long journey. A single trip from the base to the summit involves a journey of about 13 miles. Unlike the Crags Trail, this one is much more elevated. The trail mostly consists of rocky formations and minor vegetation.

How Long Does the Climb Take?

The time taken to reach the peak depends upon a number of things. However, from the base to the top, even for the most slow-going hikers, the journey can be completed within a day. It may take somewhere from 4 to 10 hours on average, depending upon which trail you choose. The Crags Trail is much faster and can be easily completed under a few hours, even if you camp once or twice.

The Barr Trail, however, can take more than a day, if you decide to spend the night at the mid-way Barr Camp. The weather conditions also matter. For beginners, it is advisable to go slowly and take their time. Overall, on a normal day with not too much of a crowd, you can reach the peak in less than 8 hours.

Physical Requirements and Technical Difficulties

Given the fact that even if you choose the simplest route, i.e., the Crags Trail, it can take you 8 – 10 hours to complete the whole round trip, it is a must that you are in a healthy physical state before the climb. Problems like breathing difficulties or low stamina can prove troublesome. You should expect anything ranging from violent rain to getting off-path and should prepare yourself for these beforehand. It would be very helpful if you acclimatize yourself by doing minor hikes for a day or two before the actual peak climbing.

Equipment You Need

If you follow the above guidelines, you are pretty much good to go. Keep in mind that hiring a tour guide is also really useful, as they can inform you of everything relating to your travels, make sure that you are well equipped, and keep you on the right track.

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