Midnight on New Year’s Eve can be a nail-biter.
Not for those whose backsides become one with their couches, as they watch the televised version of the glittery ball drop in New York City, but for those who patiently wait outside in the frigid December air or hover inside at their windows, eyes glued to Pikes Peak.
Would the AdAmAn Club once again succeed at setting off the fireworks waiting for them at the top of the mountain, after spending two days struggling through sleet, snow, ice and wind to ring in the New Year with ephemeral constellations of light?
They would and they did.
“It was lots of fun,” said the club’s president Dan Stuart. “The first day was pleasant. We hiked to Barr Camp and spent the night. The second day’s weather report was more challenging.”
The two-day adventure began Dec. 30, with all of the hikers arriving at Barr Camp, where they spend the night every year. In the morning, four of them turned back, due to a variety of reasons, but the remaining 28 set out to tangle with the mountain in below-zero temperatures. After hiking through falling snow throughout the day, one hiker began to have difficulty and the pack broke into a couple of groups to help support him to the top.
The first group reached the summit around 3:30 p.m. Dec. 31 and the second arrived 30 minutes later; Stuart estimates the wind chill was about 30 below. He’s hard-pressed to say whether it was colder than past years but believes the wind wasn’t as strong as predicted.
It was that last mile that posed the greatest challenge to the longtime hiker, as he navigated the hip-deep snow after a long day, and the sun dipped behind the mountain. Encountering a few bighorn sheep, probably the third such occurrence during his club tenure, helped mitigate the grueling physical challenge. That, and his affection for Mother Nature.
“That’s why we go,” he said. He’s only missed a couple of hikes in his 27 years of membership. “We like being outside.”
This year’s hike was dedicated to former club member Sean O’Donnell, who died in May. His wife and and two of his sons joined the group at the summit to remember the 83rd AdAmAn member and his contributions to the club.