Most Viewed Stories
A memorable trip up Pikes Peak for AdAmAn Club
Thousands of hikers climb Pikes Peak each year. Few do it on their hands and knees.
Late Saturday afternoon, with the wind howling and the temperature dropping, many members of the AdAmAn Club had no other choice. Continuing an annual tradition that began in 1922, the group of 33 hikers trudged along above treeline with one goal in mind -- putting on a New Year's fireworks show at the stroke of midnight.
In the dead of winter, weather is an obvious risk on America's Mountain. No one knew that better than Carl Lindeman, who was making his 30th trip with the group. Lindeman was there in 2010 when the club turned back because of severe conditions.
Facing hurricane-force winds that topped out at 110 mph, the hikers would not have been blamed if they’d made the same decision Saturday. Instead, they kept moving in short stretches, waiting for any breaks in the wind to gain 10 to 30 feet on the snow-covered trail.
"Members often found themselves on all fours crawling into the wind towards the summit," the club said in a news release.
One gust was so strong that it sent Lindeman "cartwheeling" in the boulders southeast of the summit. The 56-year-old injured his knee during the fall, which he estimated at 12 to 15 feet.
"I would doubt that anyone got off that hill without being knocked down once," he said. "Once we got above timberline, a gust would kick up, die down momentarily and then instantly hit you from the other side."
Lindeman's son was among the group of hikers and could only watch as his dad fell among the massive rocks approximately one-third of a mile from the 14,115-foot summit.
"He said I looked like a rag doll as I went down the slope," Lindeman said. "The wind literally took me right off my feet. When I came to rest after tumbling a bit, I was just kind of stunned and wondering if I was broken."
Video of the fireworks show
One thing was certain -- Lindeman's journey was over as he could put no weight on the injured leg. With wind chills hovering around 30 degrees below, club members knew they had to act fast. Using a sleeping bag to keep Lindeman warm, one group of hikers would head out into the elements to carry him for a while and then another would take over.
Eventually, Lindeman was brought to the warmest part of the summit house, where he received medical attention before El Paso County Search and Rescue drove him to an ambulance waiting at Glen Cove. After X-rays revealed no broken bones, he was released from Penrose Hospital in time to watch his friends orchestrate the pyrotechnic display.
"It was kind of fun to see it from that perspective," said Lindeman, who will visit an orthopedic Thursday. "I haven't watched the fireworks from that low in many, many years."
As much as he enjoyed the show, he hopes to be back atop Pikes Peak next year when the AdAmAn Club rings in 2013.
"If I'm able, I'll be there," he said.