|The route on Cameron Cone.|
On the other hand, in Colorado Springs, although there is the staggeringly obvious and commanding summit of Pikes Peak, it's not exactly a run-up-it-before-work type of mountain (because I enjoy sleeping, 2-2h30 outings are the longest I will consistently log before 9am on a weekday). There are several 2000'-3000' climbs to be enjoyed in the area, but none of them have the obvious destination of a true mountain summit at the top: the top of the Incline is still about 700 vertical feet below the awkward and seldom-visited summit of 9250' Rocky Mountain; Barr Trail offers the logical turn-around points of either No Name Creek (8800') or Barr Camp (10,200'), but neither have expansive 360 degree views; Longs Ranch Road does no more than crest the saddle between the uninspiring Mount Manitou and the aforementioned Rocky Mountain; Jones Park (9100') is stuck in an aspen grove with higher peaks rising all around; finally, one can climb High Drive to 8300' Buckhorn Mountain (as I have done hundreds of times), and while the views are great, it hardly feels like a real summit as the Captain Jacks trail continues climbing far above this ridge.
Cameron Cone, however, breaks all aspects of this frustrating local pattern. At 10,707' it towers nearly 4500' above downtown Manitou Springs and the standard route takes less than five miles to ascend that vert (to get from a ~6500' trailhead to 10,700' anywhere else in the region requires almost eight miles of trail). The main problems are that this "standard route"-- despite being surprisingly well-developed with remarkably nice tread at least 80% of the way -- is not a Forest Service-sanctioned trail and the very beginning of the route is rather inconveniently blocked by the Cog Railway tracks at the base of Englemann Canyon (the same canyon from where the Barr Trail embarks). Nevertheless, my trip up the Cone yesterday revealed it to be just about everything I could want in a daily summit type of mountain. I can guarantee that its path sees little to no traffic at all in the winter, though, so there would almost certainly be a ton of trail-breaking if one were to turn this peak into his or her daily vigil, but I think it would be worth it.
|Typical tread below 8200' Gog/Magog Ridge.|
|The Cone with 2000' down and 2500' of vert still to go.|
|Trail becomes rougher closer to the summit, but marked by ribbon.|
|Martin on Cam's summit.|