AdAmAn addition admires New Year's Eve tradition on Pikes Peak

By Lance Benzel Updated: December 31, 2013 at 12:05 am • Published: December 30, 2013 | 8:20 am 0

Hiking a frozen Pikes Peak courts primal dangers - subzero winds, volatile weather, and brutal terrain made worse by snow and ice.

But for mountaineers in Colorado Springs' AdAmAn Club, which has bagged the peak nearly every New Year's Eve since 1922, the lure is no less elemental.

"It's the exhilaration of being up there," said Nick Baki, the newest member of a group that caps its high-altitude trek with a fireworks show from 14,115 feet, set off at the stroke of midnight while the city watches from below.

"Just being able to see the whole Front Range all lit up with the light of the fireworks around us - words can't describe it," he said.

Baki, a 32-year-old Colorado Springs native, became the 96th member of AdAmAn this month, in keeping with the club's tradition of adding one member per year. Ad-AmAn was founded in 1922 by Pikes Peak region icon Fred Barr and the Frozen Five, who marked their trip to the summit with a bonfire that could be spotted by revelers below, inspiring the tradition.

As the new guy, Baki will be tasked with breaking trail when the group departs at 9 a.m. Monday from the Barr Trail trailhead in Manitou Springs.

The climbers, equipped with arctic-grade expeditionary gear, will spend the night at Barr Camp halfway up the mountain, and they expect to reach the summit Tuesday night.

If weather permits, the mountaineers will light five fireworks at 9 p.m., to be followed by a full display at midnight.

The National Weather Service is calling for a cloudy New Year's Eve on the peak, with a low of 6 degrees and winds gusting up to 35 mph.

"It looks like it's going to be comfortable hiking weather both days," Baki said.

That wasn't the case in 2010 when the club - with Baki accompanying as a guest - turned back amid minus-35-degree temperatures and 75 mph winds.

Baki, a carpenter by trade and married father of two, is no stranger to mountain extremes.

He began climbing peaks at age 8, progressed to technical rock climbing at 12 and has stood atop the summits of 94 of the 100 tallest mountains in Colorado.

His introduction to the club came courtesy of Paul Bjork, a member he befriended on a climb 11 years ago.

Invited to check out the group as a guest, Baki has completed seven trips, and he said joining AdAmAn fulfills a lifelong dream.

Growing up on the city's west side, Baki watched the New Year's Eve fireworks show every year, even tracking the climbers' ascent by the mirrors they flash above tree line during the day.

This year, he'll be the one flashing the mirror, and his children, 12-year-old Lauren and 5-year-old Caleb, will be among those watching.

"I think it's important for the community to have a tradition like this continue," he said.

Click here to find New Year's Eve events around the Colorado Springs area.

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