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AdAmAn climbers hopeful for better weather this year
At 14,115 feet at midnight in late December, the weather is rarely good.
But a year after being turned back by extreme cold and brutal winds, the hikers of the AdAmAn Club, which has been hiking up Pikes Peak to set off a New Year’s Eve fireworks show since 1922, are optimistic about better conditions for this year’s trek.
After all, it couldn’t get much worse.
“It was the worst weather we’ve ever seen,” said club president Don Sanborn. “For the first time ever we had to turn around.”
Sanborn is optimistic Colorado Springs revelers will be able to see fireworks when they look to the west Saturday night. However, with the possibility of heavy winds, including gusts of up to 70 mph, in the Saturday forecast, don't bet your entire New Year's Eve on it.
The 33 hikers will set out on Barr Trail, the 12.6-mile route up the peak’s east side, Friday morning. Snow could be the biggest obstacle this year. About 22 inches fell on the peak in last week’s snowstorm, and it only began to consolidate and melt Tuesday, said Teresa Taylor, a caretaker at Barr Camp, the overnight stop-over halfway up the mountain.
She said in an e-mail Tuesday that only one person had been above the camp, which is at 10,200 feet, since the storm.
“I ran up in his tracks and the snow is much deeper just a mile up the trail than here,” she said.
Sanborn said the fireworks were taken to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway Tuesday. The upper 6 miles of the road remain closed by snow, so a grader had to be used to punch through the drifts, and the gaps quickly closed behind them.
Breaking trail in showshoes is nothing new for the AdAmAn hikers. After spending the night at Barr Camp Friday, they’ll flash mirrors from near timberline between 10:30 and 11 a.m., to let followers in town know they’ve made it that far – assuming the sun is out.
But there are easier ways to track their progress than gazing endlessly west. They’ll post updates and photos on the club’s Facebook and Twitter pages and for the first time will post a live streaming video of the fireworks at their website, adaman.org.
Then the climbers will catch a ride down with a local four-wheel-drive club. Champagne is too heavy to carry up – alcohol and fireworks don’t mix anyway, especially at high altitude – so they will celebrate without.
It will be Sanborn’s 16th AdAmAn climb, and while he is optimistic about good weather and clear skies, with mountain weather it’s always cautious optimism.
“Every time I say, ‘It looks like we’re going to have good weather’ I have to knock on wood and my knuckles are getting kind of worn out.”