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A look at the first recorded summit of Pikes Peak

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Every day dozens of people visit Pikes Peak. This past Fourth of July the renowned mountain broke a record. Almost seven thousand people spent the day at 14 thousand feet.

And this week we remember the first recorded summit that happened 199 years ago. A local historian takes us down memory lane and shows us how the mountain has transcended time. 

In 1806, Zebulon Pike was the first American to spot Pikes Peak. But he failed to reach the top.

"He got halfway up, ran into a November snowstorm and couldn't make it," says Lobello, the head of regional history and genealogy at Pikes Peak Library District.

It was 14 years later, on July 14, 1820 when Edwin James recorded the first ascent to the summit of Pikes Peak.

"[What] everything looks like now was different, they didn't know what was on the other side of this mountain," says Lobello. "They didn't know anything about this so getting to the top of the mountain was a way to look around and sort of figure out where they were at."

Lobello says climbing this 14er back in the 1800s was extremely challenging. 

"And they didn't have any idea all the technology and maps that we have today," says Lobello. "They were in the process of charting those maps so this was a pretty substantial climb."

An accomplishment that has only grown in the past two centuries.

"They could have never even imagined how much of a tourist draw this would have been."

But it's not just tourists. Over the years people have constantly come up with creative ways to climb the mountain.

"With Pikes Peak being such a prestigious peak here in the United States is that people want to do things the first time," says Lobello. "The first woman to climb Pikes Peak, the first person to do it blindfolded, the first person to do it walking backwards up it, this fella pushed a wheelbarrow up it." 

The man you see in that picture is Larry Hightower. KRDO is seen interviewing him in 1950 after completing his trip.

"You've got your anchor there probably at the top, they are all bundled up and this is big news," says Lobello. 

So what do the next 199 years look like for the mountain?

"The impact will only get bigger. If it's 7 thousand people on the 4th of July it's only going to get bigger," says Lobello. "This is such an icon not just for Colorado Springs but for America that people will still continue to flock to this mountain. It just rings America and the west to people."

Another fun fact about Pikes Peak, there's a crayon named after it. In 2004, Crayola produced a limited edition color box. In the collection were colors for all the states. The color chosen for Colorado was Pikes Peak purple.


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