Thursday, February 23, 2017
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AdAmAn Club Forced to Turn Back For First Time in 88 Years!
Canadian Cold Front Makes for Frigid Climb
Twenty-two members and twelve guest climbers faced with subzero temperatures, 70+ mph wind gusts, freshly drifting snow and high humidity are forced to turn around a little over a mile above timberline. With approximately 1.75 miles left to go to the top, and some members already showing significant signs of frost bite, the decision to turn around for the safety of the group was made. As one might imagine, this decision was not taken lightly due to the long, proud tradition of the club. Several members agree that due to that tradition, they pushed higher on the mountain than they would have on any other climb given similar weather conditions. It’s a testament to the club that they didn’t let the tradition cloud their judgment and get the group into serious trouble in which members would have most certainly lost fingers or toes to frostbite and possibly someone’s life to hypothermia.
Our new member, Bill Lahman, led the climbers to the 12,700’ level and the 12 miles back to the trailhead. Day one started with comfortable temperatures in the 20’s. As the cold front moved in, temperatures quickly dropped to below 0 and it began snowing on the group before they reached Barr Camp. Snow accumulated at Barr Camp through the afternoon and night. The second day the Club left Barr Camp in approximately 10 inches of snow and a temperature of -8.5 F. At timberline, due to the high winds, they avoided the open area in which they usually have lunch and flash mirrors at Colorado Springs. Instead, under shelter of the trees, they very quickly adjusted clothing and grabbed a quick bite to eat. It was too cold to stand for long. Above the ‘Two Miles to Go” sign, the club was slowed in deep freshly drifted snow and struggling headlong into high winds. Past President Ted Lindeman, says these were the worst conditions he has experienced in his 41 climbs with the club. As a result of even the limited exposure above timberline, several climbers got frostbite. Fortunately none is too severe.
Once again the club attempted to post regular status reports and photos to facebook and twitter as they progressed up the mountain. This use of social networking technology has been a hit with the facebook fans as well as the climbing party. As the conditions worsened, the posts dropped off, as it was too cold to work a phone and most member’s phone batteries failed. To view the facebook posts click on the facebook icon at
Our newest AdAmAn Club member, Bill Lahman, is the 93rd member inducted into the AdAmAn Club, a Pikes Peak area tradition since 1922. He has made the trek up Barr Trail ten previous times as a guest, so the climbing party this year was in experienced hands.
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Background photo courtesy of The Gazette/Mark Reis.