Wednesday, October 19, 2016

for the love of Rosa

Mount Rosa is a lovely cone-shaped mountain in the Colorado Springs skyline just south of Pikes Peak.  It's named for Rose Kingsley who lived here in the late 1800's.  She was an avid hiker and the first woman known to have climbed the mountain.

Pikes Peak sits right about here where these words are  It's understandably cropped from this photo because it gets enough attention.  This post is about Mount Rosa.

As I mentioned before, Pikes Peak is named for explorer Zebulon Pike, but he never made it to the summit.  He set out from the south trying to reach the tallest point in the southern Front Range. Mount Rosa is believed to be the mountain he actually climbed.  When he got to the summit, he saw Pikes Peak to his north and west and said something like ,

"Aw, sh*t".

When Chaco and I were on Pikes Peak, he mentioned that Mount Rosa was another on his list of hikes to do.  He'd attempted the summit four freaking times, but he and his companions had been turned back by approaching thunderstorms each time.

Looking down on cute Mount Rosa, I knew I wanted to hike it too.  So we did.

The trailhead serves a few other shorter popular trails in the area, so parking is a real issue on the weekends.  Chaco's job nicely allows some flexibility on work hours, and my class this semester is pretty flexible too.  We dubbed Monday as Mount Rosa day.

Monday was still unseasonably warm and sunny, but the winds were a-whipping.  Wind gusts of 90 mph were recorded from the weather station on top of Pikes Peak, the attention hound.  We knew Mount Rosa would probably be about the same.  But... what the hell.  No lightning!

The trail begins on the enchanting  St. Mary's Falls trail, which is very popular.  By the time we got to the falls, there was no one else around, but Chaco informed me that it's a popular place for stoners to hang out and smoke pot while shirtless.

Maybe we were there too early in the morning to rendezvous with shirtless pot smokers, but now I think of it as "St. Mary Jane Falls".

The falls provide a good view of Stove Mountain, which is pretty much a sheer cliff face.

Just off the St. Mary's Falls trail is yet another memorial to a fallen hiker:

                          1948 - 2008

Yes, apparently, Eamon made it up Stove Mountain, only to fall down the steep rocks near the falls afterward.  Like the 88-year-old woman who died on Pikes Peak after her 14th climb, I think Eamon would have thought it a fitting way to go if he could choose.

Continuing onward, we were glad to learn that, although it was a very windy day, the trail was buffered, so it was actually the pleasant side of the mountain to be on.  It really wasn't until we neared the summit that we became aware of the winds because it sounded like a freight train was going by through the trees above us.  But... what the hell.  No lightning!

the view to the east was very hazy because of a raging wildfire to the south of us

The elevation of Mount Rosa is 11,499 feet and doesn't get beyond treeline. But just below the approach to the summit is this barren area that seems kind of like Mars.  Here, we were greeted by the wind.

But, the trees thicken up again, so we forged onward for the final ascent.

It was a very satisfying hike.  The trail is pretty steep in places, but not terribly so.  And until reaching the Mars surface, we were very protected from the winds.  Reaching the summit is very obvious, unlike some other mountains that have a broad mesa on top.  Mount Rosa is a true "peak", and when you're on top of it, you know, because it's a relatively small diameter.

I wore my hood up there, not because it was cold, but to keep my hat from sailing off to Kansas at 90 mph.

Chaco didn't have a hood, so just tucked his hat into his pack to keep it from sailing off to Kansas.

This pic shows Zebulon's "Aw, sh*t" view of Pikes Peak to the north.

Yes, the wind was a byotch at the summit, but this was really a super nice hike.  Of course, Mt. Rosa is  not the tourist trap that Pikes Peak is, so you have to get your own self back down again - no roads, no trains, no t-shirts...  But that's what makes it all the more alluring.

Round trip is 14 miles.  We took eight hours - five up, three down.

Great ditch day!


Ramzu Zahini said...

The fall looks gorgeous. I like water.
You keep wishing to have a lightning strike.
Last night my house was struck by thunder at one in the morning. The house shook and my car alarmed screamed. I woke up, reset the fuse and played my PS4 till 3 am.
Never climb alone, you hear.

Abby said...

I prefer sleep to PS4, even if woken by thunder :).
I was actually thankful for NO lightning strikes. The wind was really strong at the top, but at least it wasn't lightning.
We get thunderstorms most every afternoon during the summer. To get in a long hike, you either have to set out super early or just wait until fall. We don't get too many strikes that set off the car alarms, though!

ShadowRun300 said...

Ha! Poor Zeb. Fun story though.
And awesome pics! Doesn't LOOK like the wind is blowing. Just looks beautiful.
Can't think of a better way to spend a ditch day. Thanks for sharing! You know I'm living vicariously through you. :)

Abby said...

Yeah, I can only imagine how Zeb felt. He THOUGHT he was on Pikes Peak. GPS was a little off, I guess.
Despite the wind, it was a wonderful hike. We had to shout,

Tee said...

What a great way to spend a ditch day! Beautiful scenery and some nice history too.

After reading this, I'm feeling a bit like Ramzu Zahini. I should get out more. Aside from a few lunchtime walks around the pond outside the office, and a few hours last weekend digging up a garden in the back yard, I have not spent much time outside lately.

Abby said...

I also often take the outdoors for granted, but I've been doing better lately!