Teller County High Point Trip Report

Devil's Playground (13,060 ft)

Date: September 26, 1999
Author: Dave Covill

On Sunday, September 26th, 1999, in the company of Charlie & Diane Winger, George Vandersluis (nattily attired in 40-year-old wool "climbers" suit) & Mary Maurer, David Olson, John Mitchler & Wendy Hecht, Steve Mueller, Mary Anne Hunt, Ruth & Ray Covill, and Beckie Covill, I stepped on top of the highest boulder at the Devil's Playground, highpoint of Teller County CO, 13,060', high on the Pikes Peak Auto Toll Road, thus becoming the 5th person to complete the 63 county highpoints of Colorado.

It was a bit crisp, temp in the 40's perhaps, high winds, but still relatively nice. Ruth & Ray, having come from sea level on Wednesday, experienced a spot of altitude sickness, and retreated down to Glen Cove at ~11,000' shortly thereafter.

Most others visited Pikes Peak itself, a few miles further uphill. We enjoyed a fine picnic, complete with beer, soft drinks, and champagne, and a special 63-county cookie. I was honored to be accompanied by 3 50-state completers, a 46'er, a 44'er, a 37'er, a 29'er, a 28'er, a 23'er, an 18'er, a 5'er, and a 1'er.

I was also honored to be in the company of 2 CO completers, David & John, and several others who are around halfway or further, including Steve, George, Charlie and Beckie. Wow! Stratospheric company, huh? Bet 'ole Bob Packard never completed a state in such grand fashion! Although, having said that, I'll bet he's getting together with Fred, Andy, Bob M. et al to plan something truly spectacular.

Well, it took 4 1/2 years of work, having started in Feb '95 with the company of John, and with David & Andy's list, and with about a 12-county headstart via fortuitously summited 14'ers. I got to 53 in 1997, and to 60 in 1998, and had only Crestone Peak & East Crestone to do, along with the Devil's Playground. Beckie & I attempted an assault from the east, via the Colony Lakes 4WD road, on 4th of July, but were confronted by high winds the entire weekend. We attempted to do the same thing on the weekend of August 28th, but the clouds hung low and it rained a bit, so we settled for Humboldt, a class 2 14'er.

On Labor Day Weekend, with Steve Mueller, we approached from the San Luis valley side, and backpacked in 4,000' in 5 miles from the Cottonwood Creek TH, on a faint to non-existent trail, and set up camp at Cottonwood Lake at 12,400'. We had relatively little trouble with the south, red, couloir, and joined about 30 people on top. There were reports of up to 200 hikers camped in the Colony Lakes drainage, but we shared the west side with only 2 other parties. We found the East sub-peak to be only 3-4' lower than the main peak, via hand-level. One hell of a drop-off down the thousand foot northeast cliff of Crestone Peak down to the upper Colony Lake, though.

We snoozed on sleeping pads on a rock outcrop all afternoon instead of packing out, saving that for Monday morning.

Being successful on my 4th attempt at Crestone, that set up the Teller County grand finale. Besides the afore-mentioned folks, I summited for the 1st time at least 1 of the 63 CO county HP's with at least 20 other friends, including Dawn Howard, Chris Covill, Helen MacVicar, Skid Rowe, Steve Doppler, Larry Ottoson, Jim Weissman, Diana Christopher, Matt Royster, Walt O'Neil, Ken Akerman, Kim Galbraith, Kyle, a dozen CMC members on a trip up Buffalo Peak, and a few others I've forgotten. I soloed at least 5 counties topped by 14'ers years ago, but the toughest ones I did with John Mitchler and Steve Mueller and my wife Beckie. I'm just glad I saved an easy one for last, as my parents got to be there with us.

Well, now that it's over, I don't have an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, or relief, or anything, just glad it's finally done, as John and I wrote in the guidebook that I did it in 1999, and I wouldn't want to be in contradiction there, at least in print. Wyoming and South Dakota loom in the distance, and I have a nice start there. Beckie has quite a few easier hikes she'd like to do, many in the Rocky Mtn NP area, so perhaps we'll stay around home for a while. I've got a handful of state HP's and 14'ers in my sights, so there's never an end to hiking, is there? (witness the Bobs) See you on top!