Fireworks O’er America’s Peak
There are many ways to celebrate the New Year around the world. And…there are a surprising number of similarities – family and friends, good food, fireworks, reflection, etc.
In East Asia, many celebrate hope and renewal by watching the sunrise on New Year’s Day. This is typically done in large groups on mountaintops, beaches or scenic valleys.
In Japan (and other mountainous countries of East Asia), large groups will endure the bitter cold to summit a mountain and greet the rising sun. It is called Hatsuhinode, and is Japanese for the welcoming of the first sunrise of the New Year.
A group around Colorado Springs in southwest Colorado has a similar practice of enduring the cold to hike to the top of a mountain. The group is called the AdAmAn Club (http://adaman.org). Rather than watch the sunrise, the group’s purpose is to light fireworks at the summit at midnight.
The AdAmAn Club was formed in 1923 after a group of 5 men dubbed “The Frozen Five” decided to hike to the top of Pikes Peak to set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve. The five men were Fred and Ed Morath, Fred Barr, Willis Magee and Harry Standley.
So it was, that on December 31st, 1922, the Frozen Five created “fire on the mountaintop” that could be seen for miles around and created quite a stir. Two of the original five, brothers Fred and Ed Morath suggested the name “AdAmAn” for a rule that only one new member could be added each year. The tradition has lasted for over 90 years and the club gets bigger.
Pikes Peak is “America’s Mountain”, one of the 53 Colorado 14ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) and tallest of the southern Front Range at 14,115 feet. Pikes is named from explorer/adventurer Zebulon Pike, who interestingly enough, did not summit the peak. (Side note: This author thinks Zebulon is such a cool name, that if he had another son, he’d seriously consider naming him Zebulon.)
The summit is accessible by a cog railway, a paved road and Barr hiking trail. Pikes Peak is only one of two 14ers accessible by paved road. The other is Mount Evans.
Pikes Peak earns the moniker “America’s Mountain” from its’ sheer popularity - hosting tourists, climbers, researchers and racing fans. The Pikes Peak road is famous for the International Pikes Peak Hill Climb motor race, USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships and Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb.
The icy Barr Trail is the eastern route the AdAmAn Club takes to reach the top and is accessible to the public for climbing most of the year. Fireworks in the splendor that is America’s Mountain celebrates the majesty of our great country and gives fitting backdrop to occasion. Happy New Year!
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