Morse Code

Growing up in Colorado had many perks. One of which was greeting the New Year. 

As a youngster, I was always fascinated by a group of mountaineers that would spend their holiday climbing the Peak as we called it; Pikes Peak with an elevation of 14,114 feet above Sea Level. They were climbers named "The AdAmAn Club", my introduction to them was in the somewhat later than the historical founding members of 1922. A unique group of mountaineers, who each year on December 30th and 31st, climb the icy slopes of Barr Trail on the east face of world famous Mountain.

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On a cold December morning, these original five fun-seekers began their journey up the steep slopes of the Cog Railway tracks and they picked up flares along the way, left there by railroad workers. Historically, at Windy Point, 12000 feet high, conditions were almost impossible, as the wind had pushed huge snow drifts over the right of way. One slip might have meant a slide of several hundred feet down into huge boulders.

 cog railway removing snow, operating in April to late June depending on the weather

cog railway removing snow, operating in April to late June depending on the weather

Hours later, the “frozen five” as they would later be named, sighted the huge tower of the old summit house as it moaned and groaned in the bitter cold wind. Snow had drifted so deep near the huge steel doors of the summit house, that they entered through a second floor entrance. Once inside they managed to start a fire in the old potbellied stove and soon frozen eyelashes, noses, fingers and toes began to thaw and their faces began to glow with the thought of their accomplishment. They ate, sang songs, and waited for the midnight hour. Then at the stroke of midnight, they lit their flares and the other fireworks they had hauled up the mountain, and built a huge bonfire of old railroad ties. They celebrated New Year’s 1923 from the summit of America’s mountain as they do today.

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That night was the beginning of a Colorado tradition, which is now more than 90 years strong. That following spring of 1923, this little group of five adventurers organized their new club. Fred and Ed Morath suggested the name “AdAmAn” and the five ruled that only one new member could be added each year. 

Today, the public is invited to watch the progression from afar and as a child I was enamored. Every few hours they would signal by reflecting the sun's rays or strike a flair and communicate to the lookers on below. My mother and I would use a mirror outdoors to signal back and track their progression. I swear our "homemade" Morse Code made all the sense in the world at the time as I knew they were signaling me in return. We measured and guessed how far they could climb before the next check in. What a thrill.  

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Usually, when they hit the tree line, where only rock, snow and ice can be found they could be seen a bit easier from the townspeople below. I always imagined how brave talented and a little crazy the AdAmAn group was.  

On the afternoon of the 31st, the signaling stopped. I would wonder if they made it. That is until the fireworks at midnight would begin. My parents were correct, "just wait, a little magic is sure to happen"  

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Cheers to our pioneers and new beginnings.