Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mt. Pittsburg (8,197 ft.)
UN 8203C

31 January, 2009: After our checkered performance on the Turkey Creek peaks, Doug, Susan and I were nevertheless determined to try bagging the two southernmost ranked peaks in El Paso County. The trailhead for this one is at a campground on Barrett Road off of Highway 115. Doug had had some previous contact with the owners, so we were confident of at least getting permission to park there to start our hike.
When we arrived, just before 8 am, we found the office vacant and no one stirring anywhere. Susan got on her cell phone and called the number posted in the window, but could only leave a message. So, Doug parked at the north end of the campground, just a few yards from where the trail takes off northward, and we set off.
A decent trail leads up along the ridge crest for some distance before kind of petering out. After that, we dropped off the ridge on the west side, to stay out of sight from the handful of homes located on the east side. This got us into some steep sidehilling, combined with serious bushwhacking. It was slow going in places.
The last big obstacle was a house which sits facing south on the south face of Mt. Pittsburg. (Yes, I'm spelling that right.) To avoid it, we dropped off to the west yet again, and clawed our way up through scrub brush and timber to a point on the ridge crest somewhat above and north of it. There we came with spitting distance of the radio tower installation which sits just south of the summit (see photos). There didn't seem to be anyone about; it probably runs on auto-pilot most of the time.
From there, the summit was just a short distance away, and probably no more than 150 feet vertically. The ever-present scrub oak, however, made it a rather slow march. The true summit is the more northerly of two high points, and actually has a fairly large area that is open, tree-free, and reasonably flat. Once there, we got the nicest surprise of the day: There was a register, and it had been placed there in 1980 by the "Brown Bear Mountaineering Club" of Denver! There were only about two dozen entries, many of them made by people who live (or lived) in the immediate vicinity. This is truly an obscure, and rarely-climbed, peak!
I should mention that the weather was gorgeous, and we were already shedding clothing in the clear sunshine. After some food, water, and pictures, we dropped off the northwest ridge for the trek over to 8203C, which is the line parent of Pittsburg. The descent was steep, and we dodged both rock outcroppings and brush to get to the saddle, some 450 feet below. The climb on the other side was much gentler, but also considerably longer.
We followed the twisted ridge crest as best we could for over an hour before finally coming to the little rocky high point which GPS data confirmed was the summit we were seeking. Here, we didn't find a register, so we installed one. This summit is just barely within El Paso County: You could literally throw a stone westward, and have it land in Fremont County.
Rather than re-trace our steps, we only followed the ridge down partway, then we descended into the Red Creek drainage, trying to intersect the road that comes up to a quarry southwest of Pittsburg. It worked, but probably didn't really save us any time, compared to going back over Pittsburg. This was because we had to climb over half a dozen small ridges along the way, complete with the ubiquitous scrub brush.
We did finally arrive at the south end of the quarry, and the road, however, and followed it back to the campground. We got back to the car just before 4 pm, about eight hours after setting out. No gates blocked our way out this time, and we drove back to town in glorious sunshine, quite content with our twofer of obscure peaks.
Photos are at:

Long life and many peaks!


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