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Skiing Pikes Peak

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for some information about skiing pikes peak. There is surprisingly little info on the web and I'm sure someone here has skied pikes before. 

First off, if I find out more info, I plan to go with someone experienced in backcountry since I haven't ever done bc. The closest I've come is hiking the ridge at Taos numerous times, which is of course controlled for avalanches.

What I found online so far is that it's best to drive up the pikes peak highway (I don't like tolls, but I don't know of alternatives) to Devil's playground and then choose a chute and ski down to the parking lot near the old ski area. People could take turns driving up or everyone could hike. There's a bit more detail and a basic map of the chutes HERE. Other than that, I know next to nothing.

Now for some questions:

What time of year would it be safest to this sections of pikes?
Does anyone ski pikes regularly who would be willing to allow some skiers to come along?
Is there anything else to know about skiing pikes?

Basically, I'm just looking for any information. Living in the Springs, it seems like it could be a good deal of fun to drive an hour or so and have access to some challenging backcountry skiing. I camped on the back side of peaks last weekend and there was already about two feet of snow at roughly 11,000 ft.

Thanks for any help!
Edited by ztrain727 - 10/28/09 at 4:37pm
post #2 of 20
If you Google Earth the Devil's Playground, Pikes Peak, CO, you will be put on the plateau near the ravine. Travel north on the highway to the first pair of switchbacks. To the west of the sharp right hander, is Baby Blue. The rest of the runs are further west. It looks fabulous in this view. The imagery is from March 2002 and looks almost too late. But I don't know what the winter was like, either. This link will put you at the bottom of Three Little Pigs:

Between March and June (given the snow year) would be suitable. Of course the road being open would be good too. Generally speaking, skiing on the upper reaches of the divide and similarly high peaks is spring time although winter expeditions are quite feasible, just more challenging for approach, avy danger, cold, wind, etc.

This was in July near Roger's Pass: to give you an idea. Skiing on Mt. Evans was superb in late May this year.

I'd want to ski with someone first, so I'm not skiing with a stranger. Do you ski in Summit? We could meet up and talk about seeing if we could make this happen.

post #3 of 20
Used to ski that many years ago ( late 60s) teaching on the old Pikes Peak Ski area.  We used the pick up truck technique.  Late February March were our time to hike it  The road was unplowed above Devils Playground so it was a case of how long do you want to walk.  We normally skied the 1st and 2nd gully's, great bowl skiing.  We hit it with corn or up to 6" fresh, too much work with deeper snow to get there.  Don't remember ever seeing any avi problems up there, but not a run I would recommend for the first time in loose snow. 

Great sunny day early spring run.  Two things of interest up there, there used to be a heard of mountain sheep much fun to watch.  The run was then named "Racing Trail", way before my time.  Buddy Warner and his contemporaries held an annual race up there, all of the way to the base of the old ski area, I understand that it was a kamikaze start, and it was probably a great party.

The area was much smaller in its' 1st life, just a t-bar and a couple of rope tows, and maybe 500 vertical.  From the look of the pic there are now cut runs from there down, that will make life simpler for you if you want to ski down to the old ski area. 

Go ski it, take pics, and do a TR on it.  Would love to see and ski those bowls again.  Enjoy them!
post #4 of 20
I haven't skied Pike's Peak, but let me suggest a killer guidebook: Lou Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners:
It's got a whole chapter on Pike's Peak and a metric buttload of good info and tips on skiing Colorado bc to boot.  Don't go above 13.9k without it.  
post #5 of 20
 I would love to ski Pikes Peak as well and have been looking into it. I hiked up it late Sept/early Oct this year via crags trail and there were already a few small snow fields forming. It would be a lot of work and you would only get a single thou long run out of it but when you hike crags you come up throu this great looking bowl that is above timber line with almost no boulders or rocks to speak of. The other common route I have read is to climb up via the Y-couloir and than ski back down. However both of those are mountaineering routes with a ski descent rather than ski specific.  
post #6 of 20

One summer, maybe ten years ago, we were at the top doing the tourist (cog railway) thing.  There was a group of four or five people (and two dogs) sking from the edge of the parking lot.  I got the impression that it was a for-hire guide deal, though I suppose it could have been a half-experienced, half not group of friends.

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info. Maybe this spring we could get a little group together a test it out. I could also try to pick up that book. MasterRacer I have the colorado pass and will probably be skiing that area just about every weekend. Maybe we could meet up sometime in the next few months.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

Some friends came from out of today so we went up on pikes peak just to hike and have some fun. I of course brought my skis and despite the warm weather and cement snow, managed to mess around briefly. I was on the back side right near the Mennonite camp but up the road to the right of them sort of. Here's a little video I made:

Can't wait for the spring, but for now this beats lift lines!
post #9 of 20


That was some adventuresome skiing (given the poor quality of the snow). I did a tiny tour up French Gulch with a buddy and my dogs. Skinny tele skis and about 8 inches of drier stuff than you had. About 10 turns on a meadow, the rest was just kick and glide and joring with Misty, a husky.

Let me know when you are in Summit, and we can get together. PM me and we can share contact info. I haven't mentioned Pike's to my BC buddies, but I think they would be up for it. It'd be more of a car trip than we are used to taking, but the terrain looks worth it.

FWIW, this is a cell phone camera photo of car skiing Mt. Evans just before Memorial Day last year. It was superb skiing cut short by incoming weather.

This is from the parking lot at Summit Lake. We hiked behind the peak on the left, dropped into the diagonal chute in the center, I traversed to the far lookers right and made 50+ turns in 6" of perfect wet fresh snow. Then shuffled further skiers right (behind the near ridge) for another 30+ turns and back along the shore of the lake back to the car.


Edited by MastersRacer - 11/1/09 at 12:31pm
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info MR!

I would definitely like to meet up and try it out this spring. Just out of curiosity, did you just do it once or did you drive/hike back up?
post #11 of 20
I only got one lap in because of the bad weather. There were three of us and only one got two runs as we shared driving.

post #12 of 20
isn't there a whole website of coloRadBro's yanking each other's crank about 14 foot peaks or something like that...
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the extra info MR! How much was the toll for the highway? $7 a person?

Splitter, thanks so much for that site! There is a ton of info (way more than I've found anywhere!).
post #14 of 20
The 14er's site has good info. I have usually relied on friends that have done it already.

I don't know what the toll was. I drove so they paid the gate fee!

post #15 of 20
"I'm looking for some information about skiing pikes peak....if I find out more info, I plan to go with someone experienced in backcountry since I haven't ever done bc. The closest I've come is hiking the ridge at Taos numerous times, which is of course controlled for avalanches."

A few red flags there....
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by raspritz View Post

"I plan to go with someone experienced in backcountry"

A few red flags there....

That is both why I am here in the first place asking for advice and why I don't plan to just hit the highway and try it out alone. I know a number of people with extensive backcountry experience, and from what I've heard, Pikes is a fairly safe starting point.
post #17 of 20

Things you should talk about with your friends and/or here are avalanche saftey and obtaining some training as well as avy gear. Now is a good time to look into it and get the gear, plus the classes often book up quickly. I recommend a separate probe over probe poles as they are longer and specifically designed for the job. Other than that, just about any shovel and beacon will do.

Ski ya later,

post #18 of 20
 Hey ztrain,

My family just moved to the springs and I'm looking for some people to do some backcountry skiing with. I have the equipment, some experience, and took an avi course about a year and a half ago. I'm down to check out Pikes Peak and other places nearby. 

Shoot me a line if you want to check out some spots near colorado springs.

post #19 of 20
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post
 The other common route I have read is to climb up via the Y-couloir and than ski back down. However both of those are mountaineering routes with a ski descent rather than ski specific.  

Actually if the road is open to the top, the easier way to do Y-couloir would be the reverse, start from the summit, ski down, then hike back out (I think Railroad couloir is easier to hike up), the couloir literally drops right out of the summit parking lot.  I had a blast skiing the Y a few years ago.  I wouldn't call it a mountaineering route though, definitely a great ski route... consistently steep but nothing really technical... there is a cliff choke depending on snow cover, but easy to get around.  We hiked out of the basin via Rumdoodle ridge to a car we parked a little ways down from the summit, which would have been fine if the snow was frozen over... instead the ridge was partially covered in punchy snow and we ended up with a miserable mix of postholing and scrambling due to the soft spring snow.

This is taken from the entrance right out of the parking lot:

Another one:
post #20 of 20

As soon as the highway opens past Devil's Playground is best time, if you don't want to hike.

Here are some pictures:

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