Mount Evans has the distinction of having the highest road(paved) in the United States. An observatory sits on it's barren summit. I took a trip with Justin to Colorado in August of '98, but it wasn't really for mountain climbing purposes, it was more to visit Colorado Springs. Nevertheless, I found enough time to manage the short ascent of this peak from Summit Lake.
We arrived at 12,850 foot summit lake around 11am with pretty clear skies above. Justin, with a good case of bronchitis going elected not to make the climb but rather drive up and meet me at the peak. I planned on a quick ascent of the peak and trip back down to Summit Lake. Our rental car was struggling mightily with the steep grades and altitude, and Justin remarked that on the final climb he wasn't sure it was going to make it.
At the lake, vegitation is already very sparse. The rocky cliffs of Mount Evans' west face directly behind the lake. The north slope was the route I was taking, and it climbs only 1,400 feet up grassy slopes and intermittent boulders to the summit. I figured it would be a breeze, but still, just a few hundred feet up the climb I was feeling the typical effects of altitude, primarilly slight headache and more trouble regaining my breath than I'd usually have. Another advantage of climbing Evans was that a month earlier I'd failed on my first Mount Whitney attempt. Evans was a chance to still get a "14'er" in 1998 (even if it was possibly the easiest 14'er in the country).
Most of the climb was steep grass with rocks, but nearer the end it was becoming mostly rock, but no real scrambling. I opted to take the route out closer to the ridge for better photo opportunities of the west facing cliff. A short climb led me to the summit crowded with tourists on this day. Far below in the haze to the east I could barely make out the buildings of downtown Denver. The view west was much better of mountains as far as the eyes could see. Grays and Torreys Peaks were visible and obvious. To the north was the lonely Longs Peak, the obvious monarch of that region. The observatory sits about 150 feet below the true summit, and after spending 15 minutes on the highpoint with no sign of Justin I headed for the observatory.
All around the summit of this peak were mountain goats, and getting pictures of them was easy. Many times on the drive we were stopped to let packs of them cross the road. A group of Harley Davidson riders emerged onto the summit as I reached the parking lot. Justin was struggling with the thin air (primarilly from his bout with bronchitis) and we decided not to stay long. After our trip up Evans we drove through Leadville and eventually to Colorado Springs for a few days.
While my ascent of Evans was almost painfully easy compared to other major peaks (1,400 foot climb in just over a mile), there are ways to make the climb much longer, I was just on a short schedule this day. Evans is a beautiful area, and I thought prettier than the Pikes Peak region. I'd love to come back to the Denver area and climb both Grays and Torreys together, as well as the standard climb of the much more difficult Longs Peak (a classic climb).