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First Time Climbing Pikes Peak? Know Before You Go!

Pikes Peak towers over Colorado Springs at an altitude of 14,114 feet and is considered America’s Mountain. The peak has snow on it for most of the year and hiking to the summit via Barr Trail is an awesome challenge. Expect to encounter breathtaking scenery, a variety of terrain and changing weather conditions when traveling up the mountain. Be prepared and bring plenty of food, water, and the proper gear for safety. (U.S. Air Force photo Illustration by Rob Bussard)

Pikes Peak towers over Colorado Springs at an altitude of 14,114 feet and is considered America’s Mountain. The peak has snow on it for most of the year and hiking to the summit via Barr Trail is an awesome challenge. Expect to encounter breathtaking scenery, a variety of terrain and changing weather conditions when traveling up the mountain. Be prepared and bring plenty of food, water, and the proper gear for safety. (U.S. Air Force photo Illustration by Rob Bussard)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault, 21st Space Wing public affairs specialist, and Austin Lundberg are always looking for a good challenge. They didn't have to look very far to realize they see a huge challenge almost every day--Pikes Peak.

The pair decided to prepare themselves to climb this 14,114 foot mountain by hiking in Utah and participating in three different Spartan Races, with the longest race totaling 14 miles.

DeNault and Lundberg, friends and first time climbers of America's Mountain, performed several important safety tasks before starting to climb. They checked the weather, let others know where they were going, and packed a variety of gear, water, and food for energy. Starting their journey at 6:30 a.m., they summited Pikes Peak, then hiked down and completed their 26- mile challenge around 8 p.m.

During their route up Barr Trail, they met a fellow hiker who was also headed to the summit. He had very little food and gear with him and after completing the climb, he decided to catch a ride down. This is a good reminder that weather can change rapidly at altitude and being unprepared could make for a very difficult and dangerous climb.

"Being able to finish it, being able to go up and down in one day, completing the full 26 miles for the first time (were the highlights of the climb)," DeNault said.

Because of the altitude, they realized on the way up, the climb felt like it was getting longer and longer. DeNault said the view near the top was beautiful, but her least favorite part of the climb was the last three miles outside the tree line, because it was the most strenuous to get up.

"It was steeper, rockier, there was snow, you could see the top and you could smell the donuts," she said "but you're still forever away."

Denault's recommendations to those planning to climb Pikes Peak would be to start early and bring a water filter. The hike can also be split up into a two day adventure. Remember to pack enough, but don't over pack because you have to carry all that gear up and down the mountain.

"You don't want to under pack and be without something that you absolutely need," she said.

If you don't want to hike down, you can use the Cog Railway, but you must reserve a seat in advance. Hikers can only use the first and last train of the day if they want a special discounted rate.

"The whole experience was great," said DeNault. "Before I joined the Air Force, I probably would not have had the strength or endurance to make that kind of a climb. The physical requirements of the Air Force has definitely pushed me to be more outgoing, to see a challenge and to actually complete it."

For those considering Pikes Peak as a challenge, Peterson Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation is planning a Pikes Peak Adventure. The dates for this trip are Oct. 17-18 and costs $150.00 per person. The adventure includes: transportation, experienced guides, overnight at Barr Camp, breakfast, lunch, and a ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to descend the mountain. Outdoor Recreation also has gear lists to ensure you are safe and well prepared.

For reservations and more information, call: (719) 556-4867 or check out their web site at: http://www.21fss.com/about/outdoor-recreation/

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