COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Hikers who climb to Pikes Peak's summit but don't feel up to walking the 12 miles back down could soon have to pay for their ride.
The Colorado Springs city council is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal from Pikes Peak Highway officials that would charge up to $500 for each uninjured hiker who calls 911 for a ride down.
The city runs the toll road up the 14,115-foot peak, but the U.S. Forest Service owns the land.
"Some of the people just say 'I want to get to the top of this mountain,' and they don't realize they have to get back down," highway manager Jack Glavan told The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.
The likelihood of the council's approval was not immediately known. Forest Service spokeswoman Barbara Timock said the agency is not involved in rescue operations and had no opinion on the proposal.
Some 15,000 people a year attempt to climb Pikes Peak, the second-most visited mountain in the world behind Japan's Mount Fuji.
Under the proposal, hikers who call for a ride before highway workers have gone home would pay $100. The fee could go up to $500 when hikers call 911 after hours, and it could increase if the road has to be plowed to fetch the caller.
It wasn't immediately clear how many such hikers call for emergency rides each year, but local rescue groups say they've stopped providing rides and instead refer calls to highway rangers.
"It got to be kind of onerous, because it basically is a two-and-a-half-hour effort to pick up a vehicle, drive to the summit, pick up someone who didn't do any planning and drive them back down," said Reg Francklyn, spokesman for the volunteer El Paso County Search and Rescue.
In December, an unidentified hiker who arrived at the summit after dark and broke into the Summit House restaurant and gift shop to avoid freezing was charged $500 for a ride down and a window he broke.