Thursday, June 6, 2013

Conquer The Mountain – Check

Pike’s Peak, CO   High 47  Low 22



Jim had heard about all the races to the top of Pike’s Peak and had seen movies about it, so getting to the top has been on his bucket list. 

P1030665However, Pike’s Peak is 14,110 feet up in the air with about 50% of the oxygen found down at 6,800 feet. We had some long talks about whether we should go or not with his respiratory issues. A lot of people mentioned taking the Cog Train to the top but we decided we were going to do the drive to the top. That way if Jim started having problems breathing we could turn around and go back down.


We made it to the top!!! And Jim did great. He did mention that breathing was more difficult up at the top (even I noticed I was having problem getting a deep breath) but he didn’t get sick and even walked around at the top a little bit.

A necessary stop.


A beautiful bird. Once again, no idea what kind.


Until you get above the tree line, the drive isn’t too different than driving the Rockies in Montana or elsewhere. But once you get above the tree line it gets a lot more “interesting”.

The timber line.


There are no guard rails and it’s a long, long way down the mountainside. Heights don’t really bother me but there were a couple of turns that I moved a little bit more to the center of the truck.


We took our time and pulled over so others who were in a much bigger hurry could pass us. I think our taking it slow gave Jim’s body a chance to adjust.

The whole upper part of the drive is nothing but switchbacks. I got a couple of pictures but they really don’t do the twists and turns justice.




We got about a mile from the top when the Ranger stopped us. Seems a commercial was being filmed to show a Range Rover racing to the top of Pike’s Peak.


They were using a helicopter to do some of the filming and it was landing to refuel down closer to the bottom of the mountain.


We got to watch the Range Rover make two runs to the top and come back down again. I thought it was rather interesting. Hopefully, some day I’ll see the commercial on TV.


Jim told the Ranger that he could have pushed the Rover up to the top faster with his Chevy but they wouldn’t let him do it.


P1030779There were also a couple of bicyclists who were pedaling their way up. Now that is just plain crazy. I have no idea if they started from the bottom but we passed them on the way up and they arrived at the top while we were there. Other riders are driven to the top and then ride down. I think they’re crazy too.


We almost had a traffic jam at the top there were so many people making the drive.

Jim’s altimeter app on his phone.


And then the Cog Railway arrived while we were at the top. Lots and lots of people.


Views from the top.



While at the top, it started to spit snow on us. Not much but enough to notice it. The first picture is on the way up. The second one is on the way down. See the difference in clouds.



Saw this fellow (marmot, I think) bounding across the road.


Gee, ya think??


About a third of the way down there is a mandatory stop for a brake check. They want to determine if you’ve been riding your brake and burning them up. They tell you to use your lowest gear but some people just don’t get it. You can see the snowdrops on the windshield.





I had about doubts about the wisdom of doing this drive, but I am so happy we did it. What an experience!


  1. What a ride! Making that drive is on my bucket list....there was too much snow last year when we were there. I just love that whole area!

  2. Wow--glad you guys made the trip with flying colors.

  3. Wow, that's HIGH! Last summer, I spent a couple of weeks in Leadville, Colorado (10,000 feet) and I noticed I felt "winded" when I took a long hike. It's interesting to see what altitude does to potato chip (and other) bags in the supermarket!

  4. Now you'll be looking forward to seeing commercials. I knew he wouldn't have any problems. I think you did it the smart way.

  5. what a great drive that was! kind of like the 'road to the sun'! now we really need to add this one to our list of must do's!!

  6. What beautiful views! You know us though, we would be hiking that mountain, it is on our list, maybe next year! Glad you both were able to do the drive and not have any problems with the altitude.


  7. We made the pilgrimage to Pikes Peak back in our late 20s and felt the effects of thin air then. I'm glad we crossed that off our "bucket list" when we were younger. It was a great ride then and sounds like you guys enjoyed it now.

    Have fun out there.

  8. Absolutely gorgeous pictures but absolutely no way are we going to make that drive. The heights would get me.

  9. I did the Cog train a number of years ago. It was fun. We could see the roads without any guard rails. It was snowing and cold when I was there too.

  10. When we did it about 10 years ago, it was gravel roads about half way up to the top. I was nervous. I think Mt Washington in NH is more scarey. Put that one on your list next.

  11. OMG - that's just plain scary to me. Too high with too long a drop! Good for Jim, and you too, for making it, and being able to breathe up there. I had breathing issues coming from Palm Springs, CA to Bluewater Lake, NM (6,576') last year. I did it too fast and had problems for quite a long time. This year I made the climb more slowly and am doing okay.

    Great shot of the animal running across the road - that's a quick snap. You must have been poised for the shot. I love those, but usually don't react fast enough. This was a fun, very interesting day. And the commercial must have been fun to watch in progress. Thanks for all the photos, since I'll never be up there in person! :)

  12. We were at Pike’s Peak when they were having a bike race. Those people are crazy. I could barely watch them.

    I remember that road with no guard rails. I kept leaning in towards Paul. I can't believe more people just don't fly over the edge.

    Gorgeous photos! Good job.

  13. Looks like a terrific day! Your campsite looks nice. Hey I added this post at

    the "sign posts" page for the Bigfoot Crossing sign

  14. We went up via the cog railroad. I have problems with heights if the road is narrow so I think I'll stick to the rails. We had a hail storm with lightning at the top when we were there. They only let us go from the train to the visitors center for safety reasons. I'd like to go back up on a nicer day as I can tell from your photos that view is beautiful.

  15. Great pictures! We have been to the top twice by car and once bu the COG train. I really enjoyed the train.

  16. wow!!! THAT LOOKS SO COOL, PUTTING IT ON MY BUCKET LIST NOW, TOO!! Beautiful scenery... and pictures!

  17. Now that is a definite WOW and something I'd love to do......despite that "S" stuff on the ground. Your pictures are gorgeous. I'd be worried about coming back down with all the braking required though.

  18. It's been 44 years since I did that drive. Glad I did it, but don't think I'll be doing it again. :) I enjoyed seeing your pics since mine are long gone.

  19. Love that drive ~ loved every route I took in Colorado ... I can 'see' these scenes with you. It is very hard to capture the curves and drop offs. I tried and drove... I'm a moron. BUT I had to capture what I could. That's why I went in off season so I didn't block traffic behind me gawking and going 0 miles an hour. not kidding. toooooo beautiful to not breathe in each inch.

    adrenaline producing drives... loved it BUT I sure wouldn't drive any of those roads in anything other than ol Homer.

    The mountain bikers were really something. I stopped and talked with a few. It's what they love. But ... coming up behind them really freaked me out. Fortunately going 0 miles an hour... I was just afraid they didn't hear me and would decide to cross the road....

    Great pictures, Sandie.

  20. I'm glad you were able to do the drive. We did it back in August of 1976 in a small rental car about the size of a Ford Pinto. It was hot at the bottom and cold and snowy at the top.

  21. You had a much nicer day than we did last year when we took the cog train. And it would be fun to watch the commercial being made. Congratulations on being able to breathe, Jim.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.