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 ,
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:
"IN MEMORY OF EAMON MURPHY
1948 - 2008
WHO FELL TO HIS DEATH HERE ON MAY 24, AFTER SOLO CLIMBING STOVE MOUNTAIN ABOVE THESE FALLS. HE WAS A DARLING MAN, LOVED BY ALL WHO KNEW HIM."
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.
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!