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Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

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Pikes Peak is a mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

 in the Front Range
Front Range
The Front Range is a mountain range of the Southern Rocky Mountains of North America located in the north-central portion of the U.S. State of Colorado and southeastern portion of the U.S. State of Wyoming. It is the first mountain range encountered moving west along the 40th parallel north across...

 of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

, 10 miles (16.1 km) west of Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in South-Central Colorado, in the southern portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located south of the Colorado...

, in El Paso County
El Paso County, Colorado
El Paso County is the most populous of the 64 counties of the state of Colorado of the United States, now more populous than Denver County. The United States Census Bureau concluded that the county population was 622,371 in 2010. In recent years, the population had come closer to that of Denver...

 in the United States of America.

Originally called "El Capitan" by Spanish settlers, the mountain was renamed Pike's Peak after Zebulon Pike Jr.
Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Montgomery Pike Jr. was an American officer and explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. As a United States Army captain in 1806-1807, he led the Pike Expedition to explore and document the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase and to find the headwaters of the Red River,...

, an explorer who led an expedition to the southern Colorado area in 1806. At 14115 feet (4,302 m), it is one of Colorado's 54 fourteener
Fourteener
In mountaineering terminology in the United States, a fourteener is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet above mean sea level. There are 547 fourteeners in the world. The importance of fourteeners is greatest in Colorado, which has the majority of such peaks in North America...

s (mountains that rise more than 14,000 feet (4,267.2 m) above mean sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

). Pikes Peak rises over 8,000 feet above the city of Colorado Springs, and is a designated National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

.

Geography and geology


Pikes Peak is the easternmost fourteen thousand foot peak in the United States, located 10 miles (16.1 km) west of the city of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in South-Central Colorado, in the southern portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located south of the Colorado...

.

Pikes Peak is composed of a characteristic pink granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 called Pikes Peak granite
Pikes Peak granite
The Pikes Peak granite is a widespread geologic formation found in the central part of the Front Range of Colorado. The granite gets its name from the mountain Pikes Peak, which is made up almost entirely of the distinctive, brick-red rock...

. The color is due to a large amount of potassium feldspar
Orthoclase
Orthoclase is an important tectosilicate mineral which forms igneous rock. The name is from the Greek for "straight fracture," because its two cleavage planes are at right angles to each other. Alternate names are alkali feldspar and potassium feldspar...

. The granite was once magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

 that crystallized at least 20 miles (32.2 km) beneath the Earth's surface, formed by an igneous intrusion during the Precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

, approximately 1.05 billion years ago, during the Grenville orogeny
Grenville orogeny
The Grenville Orogeny was a long-lived Mesoproterozoic mountain-building event associated with the assembly of the supercontinent Rodinia. Its record is a prominent orogenic belt which spans a significant portion of the North American continent, from Labrador to Mexico, as well as to Scotland...

. Through the process of uplifting
Tectonic uplift
Tectonic uplift is a geological process most often caused by plate tectonics which increases elevation. The opposite of uplift is subsidence, which results in a decrease in elevation. Uplift may be orogenic or isostatic.-Orogenic uplift:...

, the hardened rock pushed through the Earth's crust and created a dome-like mountain, covered with less resistant rock. Years of erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 and weathering
Weathering
Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters...

 removed the soil and rock leaving the exposed mountain.

Discovery (by non-Native Americans)


The first American sighting is often credited to members of the Pike expedition
Pike expedition
The Pike Expedition was a military effort authorized by the United States government to explore the south and west of the recent Louisiana Purchase. Roughly contemporaneous with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was led by United States Army Captain Zebulon Pike, Jr...

, led by Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Montgomery Pike Jr. was an American officer and explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. As a United States Army captain in 1806-1807, he led the Pike Expedition to explore and document the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase and to find the headwaters of the Red River,...

. After a failed attempt to climb to the top in November 1806, Pike wrote in his journal:
"...here we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day's march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinical [sic]. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return."

History


The first European to climb the peak came 14 years after Pike in the summer of 1820. Edwin James, a young student who had just graduated from Middlebury College
Middlebury College
Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont, USA. Founded in 1800, it is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the United States. Drawing 2,400 undergraduates from all 50 United States and over 70 countries, Middlebury offers 44 majors in the arts,...

 in Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, signed on as the relief botanist for the Long Expedition after the first botanist had died. The expedition explored the South Platte River
South Platte River
The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River and itself a major river of the American Midwest and the American Southwest/Mountain West, located in the U.S. states of Colorado and Nebraska...

 up as far as present-day Denver, then turned south and passed close to what James called "Pike's highest peak." James and two other men left the expedition, camped on the plains, and climbed the peak in two days, encountering little difficulty. Along the way, he was the first to describe the blue columbine
Aquilegia caerulea
Aquilegia caerulea is a species of Aquilegia flower native to the Rocky Mountains from Montana south to New Mexico and west to Idaho and Arizona. Its common name is Colorado Blue Columbine; sometimes it is called "Rocky Mountain Columbine", but this properly refers to Aquilegia saximontana.It is a...

, Colorado's state flower.

Gold was discovered in the area of present-day Denver in 1858, and newspapers referred to the gold-mining area as "Pike's Peak." Pike's Peak or Bust became the slogan of the Colorado Gold Rush (see also Fifty-Niner
Fifty-Niner
The Fifty-Niners were the gold seekers who streamed into the Pike's Peak Country of western Kansas Territory and southwestern Nebraska Territory in 1859...

). This was more due to Pikes Peak's visibility to gold seekers traveling west across the plains than any actual significant gold find anywhere near Pikes Peak. Major gold deposits were not discovered in the Pikes Peak area until the Cripple Creek
Cripple Creek, Colorado
The City of Cripple Creek is a Statutory City that is the county seat of Teller County, Colorado, United States. Cripple Creek is a former gold mining camp located southwest of Colorado Springs near the base of Pikes Peak. The Cripple Creek Historic District, which received National Historic...

 Mining District was discovered southwest of Pikes Peak, and led in 1893 to one of the last major gold rushes in the lower forty-eight states.

In July 1860, Clark, Gruber and Company
Clark, Gruber and Company
Clark, Gruber and Co. was the first official mint in Colorado. It was later bought by the United States Mint and turned into the Denver Mint....

 commenced minting gold coins in Denver bearing the phrase "Pike's Peak Gold" and an artist's rendering of the peak (site unseen) on the obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

. In 1863 the U.S. Treasury
United States Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...

 purchased the minting equipment for $25,000 to open the Denver Mint
Denver Mint
The Denver Mint is a branch of the United States Mint that struck its first coins on February 1, 1906. The mint is still operating and producing coins for circulation, as well as mint sets and commemorative coins. Coins produced at the Denver Mint bear a D mint mark...

.

In July 1893, Katharine Lee Bates
Katharine Lee Bates
Katharine Lee Bates was an American songwriter. She is remembered as the author of the words to the anthem "America the Beautiful". She popularized "Mrs. Santa Claus" through her poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride .-Life and career:Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of a...

 wrote the song "America the Beautiful
America the Beautiful
"America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward....

", after having admired the view from the top of Pikes Peak. It appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. A plaque commemorating the words to the song was placed at the summit.

In 1899 Pikes Peak became the location for experiments conducted by the famous electrician and inventor Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

. The area was chosen for its remoteness and adjacency to the El Paso Power Company of Colorado Springs. Tesla attempted to send the first radio signal sent from Colorado to Paris, France, but the experiment created havoc and caused the entire city of Colorado Springs to lose power and damaged the El Paso Power Company. Despite this setback Tesla continued his work, eventually returning to New York City in 1900.

The uppermost portion of Pikes Peak (above 14000 feet (4,267.2 m) elevation) was declared a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 in 1961.

Pikes Peak today


There are several visitor centers on Pikes Peak, some with a gift shop and restaurant. These centers are located at 6 mile, 12 miles (19.3 km) and the summit itself, and there are several ways to ascend the mountain. The Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway
Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway
The Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway is an Abt rack system cog railway in Colorado, USA, climbing the well-known mountain Pikes Peak. The base station is in Manitou Springs, Colorado near Colorado Springs....

 is a cog railroad
Rack railway
A rack-and-pinion railway is a railway with a toothed rack rail, usually between the running rails. The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels or pinions that mesh with this rack rail...

 operating from Manitou Springs
Manitou Springs, Colorado
The city of Manitou Springs is a Home Rule Municipality located in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. The population was 4,980 at the 2000 census.Students are served by Manitou Springs School District 14 and Manitou Springs High School....

 to the summit year-round, conditions permitting. Automobiles can be driven to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway
Pikes Peak Highway
The Pikes Peak Highway is a toll road that runs from Cascade, Colorado to the summit of Pikes Peak in El Paso County, Colorado, at an altitude of...

, a 19 mile (31 km) road that starts a few miles up Ute Pass
Ute Pass
Ute Pass is a mountain pass west of Colorado Springs, near Divide.The climate is arid, so many plants that grow here are adapted to low water usage. The pass at one time was used by stage coach and equestrian traffic. It is steep on the east side. The pass is traversed by U.S. Highway 24....

 at Cascade
Cascade, Colorado
Cascade is an unincorporated town and U.S. Post Office in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. The ZIP Code of the Cascade Post Office is 80809.-History:...

. This road, which was unpaved after the halfway point, was made famous worldwide by the short film Climb Dance
Climb Dance
Climb Dance is a famous cinéma vérité short film, which features Finnish rally driver Ari Vatanen setting a record time in a highly modified four-wheel drive, all-wheel steering Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 GR at the 1988 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in Colorado, USA. The film was produced by Peugeot...

featuring Ari Vatanen
Ari Vatanen
Ari Pieti Uolevi Vatanen is a Finnish rally driver turned politician and Member of the European Parliament 1999–2009. Vatanen won the World Rally Championship drivers' title in 1981 and the Paris Dakar Rally four times....

 racing his Peugeot
Peugeot
Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion...

 automobile up the steep, twisty slopes as part of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race. The road has a series of switchbacks, treacherous at high speed, called "The W's" for their shape on the side of the mountain. The road is maintained by the city of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in South-Central Colorado, in the southern portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located south of the Colorado...

 as a toll road
Toll road
A toll road is a privately or publicly built road for which a driver pays a toll for use. Structures for which tolls are charged include toll bridges and toll tunnels. Non-toll roads are financed using other sources of revenue, most typically fuel tax or general tax funds...

.

A project to pave the remainder of the road is scheduled to be completed by 2012. The project is in response to a suit by the Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

 over damage caused by the gravel and sediment that is constantly washed off the road into the alpine environment.
The road remains open during construction. As of September 11, 2011, only 0.7 miles of the road remains unpaved.

The most popular hiking route to the top is called Barr Trail
Barr Trail
Barr Trail is a popular trail that climbs from Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA to the top of Pikes Peak. The trail is rated more difficult because of its long sustained grade rising to an especially high elevation...

, which approaches the summit from the east. The trailhead is just past the cog railway depot in Manitou Springs. Visitors can walk, hike, or bike the trail. Runners race to the top and back on Barr Trail in the annual Pikes Peak Marathon
Pikes Peak Marathon
The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is a racing event that begins at the base of Pikes Peak, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and climbs over 7,700 feet to the top of the 14,115 foot peak...

. Another route begins at Crags Campground, approaching the summit from the west.

Conditions at the top are typical of a high alpine environment. The thin air contains only 60% of the oxygen available at sea level. Snow is a possibility any time year-round, and thunderstorms are common in the summer, bringing hail and wind gusts occasionally of over 100 mph (160 km/h).
Since 1969, the summit of Pikes Peak has been the site of the United States Army Pike’s Peak Research Laboratory
United States Army Pike’s Peak Research Laboratory
The United States Army Pikes Peak Research Laboratory, or simply the “Pikes Peak Lab”, is a modern medical research laboratory for the assessment of the impact of high altitude on human physiological and medical parameters of military interest. It is a satellite facility of the U.S. Army Research...

, a medical research laboratory for the assessment of the impact of high altitude on human physiological and medical parameters of military interest.

Pikes Peak was the home of a ski resort from 1939 until 1984.

The mountain is also the site of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon
Pikes Peak Marathon
The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is a racing event that begins at the base of Pikes Peak, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and climbs over 7,700 feet to the top of the 14,115 foot peak...

 foot races on Barr Trail
Barr Trail
Barr Trail is a popular trail that climbs from Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA to the top of Pikes Peak. The trail is rated more difficult because of its long sustained grade rising to an especially high elevation...

.

See also


  • Manitou Springs, Colorado
    Manitou Springs, Colorado
    The city of Manitou Springs is a Home Rule Municipality located in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. The population was 4,980 at the 2000 census.Students are served by Manitou Springs School District 14 and Manitou Springs High School....

  • Barr Trail
    Barr Trail
    Barr Trail is a popular trail that climbs from Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA to the top of Pikes Peak. The trail is rated more difficult because of its long sustained grade rising to an especially high elevation...

  • Colorado 4000 meter peaks
  • Front Range
    Front Range
    The Front Range is a mountain range of the Southern Rocky Mountains of North America located in the north-central portion of the U.S. State of Colorado and southeastern portion of the U.S. State of Wyoming. It is the first mountain range encountered moving west along the 40th parallel north across...

  • List of Colorado fourteeners

  • Mountain peaks of the Rocky Mountains
    Mountain peaks of the Rocky Mountains
    This article comprises three sortable tables of major mountain peaks of the Rocky Mountains of North America.Topographic elevation is the vertical distance above the reference geoid, a precise mathematical model of the Earth's sea level as an equipotential gravitational surface...

  • Pike expedition
    Pike expedition
    The Pike Expedition was a military effort authorized by the United States government to explore the south and west of the recent Louisiana Purchase. Roughly contemporaneous with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was led by United States Army Captain Zebulon Pike, Jr...

  • Pike's Peak Gold Rush
  • Pikes Peak International Hill Climb


Further reading

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: High Peaks: The Climber's Guide, Bernard Gillett, (Earthbound Sports; 2001) ISBN 0-9643698-5-0
  • Rock and Ice Climbing Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks, Richard Rossiter, (Falcon; 1996) ISBN 0-934641-66-8

External links



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