14er Ski Descents – Pikes Peak – April 20, 2005
Route: West Face
Team: Ted (solo)
I drove south from Mount Yale towards Humboldt Peak, and camped at the South Colony Lakes trailhead. The five mile jeep road was completely snow covered, which took me by surprise. I had expected to drive a good stretch of the road so as I crawled into my sleeping bag I was none too psyched about the bonus distance added to the morning. All it took was some big winds through the night to help me with the decision not to go. The snooze button was hit excessively.
The thought was, maybe I could hightail it towards Pikes Peak this morning, drive up to the top and ski the super mellow west side. With the howling winds and my solo status, I thought I was meeting somewhere in the middle of quitting entirely and the long and less-than-fun Humboldt day I had planned.
By 8:30 I was at the entrance station, which believe it or not, was still very early. It would take until noon for the plows to clear the road from snowdrifts that the wind deposited through the night. From the summit parking lot it was a quick bit of recon on foot after parking to see how best to connect the summit house restaurant with the west side. There was really only one way, via the cog railway tracks.
This was so contrived I’m almost embarrassed to post it for the public. Thankfully I would get a second chance with Chris Davenport the next year, down the much more impressive North Face. But for now I was solo, so the North Face was out and the railroad tracks were the line. Once they took me past the road switchbacks, I had a wide open run down as far as I pleased. I came up on the first real trees, thus representing treeline and stopped.
Skinning back up, completing the reverse ski of the mountain (starting and finishing at the top) and arriving back at the top of the tracks, I told myself it counts, but it felt kind of weird. I happened to take pride in following and/or establishing high ethics in this game but there are times when you just have to admit the rules can be silly.
I got on I-25 north and went to Boulder to stay with Dirk. Next week, the solo trips would resume with a try at Mount Massive.