October 1 2018
Colorado has more mountains with peaks above 14,000 feet than any other state in the union. Of the fifty eight peaks, fifty three are recognized as 14ers given that they are both above the 14,000 foot threshold and have at least 300 feet of topographic prominence. The quintessential goal of outdoor enthusiasts in CO is to summit all fifty eight. This past weekend Sophia, her brother Buddy, and I tackled our first two. Well that’s not entirely true, Sophia and I have summited the 14er, Pikes Peak, by car but that hardly feels worthy of a first ascent!
We hopped on the trail at 4:30am on Saturday morning after spending the night in the van at the lower Castle Peak trailhead. Given that we don’t own a 4x4 capable vehicle we had to walk the 3-ish miles of Jeep trail to get to the upper trailhead. We reached the upper lot about two hours later just as the sun was rising over the mountains. While admittedly that pace sounds fairly slow, it’s worth noting that we gained nearly 2,000 feet of elevation in those three miles.
With the exception of fifty mile an hour gusts, near freezing temperatures, another 2,000+ ft of elevation gain, and a trail comprised of nothing but talus and scree, the rest of the route to the top was fairly uneventful. Unfortunately during the final push for the summit we were passed by another climber and missed being the first to crest Castle Peak that day by just a few minutes. Never fear, we did claim our prize just a few minutes after by taking a quick jaunt down the ridgeline and climbing up to Conundrum Peak. There’s something satisfying about being the first one on top of a mountain in the morning.