Bob Salem joins an elite group of those who have pushed a peanut up Pikes Peak

A 53-year-old man who pushed a peanut up the rocky face of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak says that, when he reached the summit after nearly a week of crawling, he badly needed water.

But as Bob Salem stood at the summit house shortly after sunrise, an employee refused to open the door or fill his bottle, he said.

“That was kind of a harsh thing.”

A stay-at-home father and lover of antique local history photos, Salem said he was motivated to complete his feat partly by the promise of immortality — people in the future might hear of what he did and smile. He also wanted to help Manitou Springs, a Victorian-era health resort at the base of Pikes Peak, celebrate its 150th anniversary. And, he had in mind drawing attention to a charity project to build affordable dome houses in the San Luis Valley.

Three men pushed peanuts to the top of Pikes Peak before him, in 1929, 1963 and 1976. A museum exhibit in the Manitou Springs Heritage Center provides details.

“It’s just good old-fashioned fun,” said heritage center president Michael Maio, who had solicited a 21st-century attempt. “One of those small-town things.”

Now the museum exhibit will expand, featuring a photo of Salem along with the peanut he had at the summit the morning of July 15 and a face mask contraption he wore, made with spoons purchased at a dollar store, for flicking peanuts up his 12.6-mile Barr Trail route and minimizing peanut back-sliding due to gravity.

“People will come by and see my funny face. It is cool,” said Salem, who moved to Colorado Springs from Cleveland in 2008. “I am weird. I thought, ‘If you have the ability to do it, there could be benefits.’ I love this area. And now my name is there.”

A Manitou Springs resolution in the works will honor him. Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs, adjacent to Manitou Springs, issued a citation delivered to Salem at the summit.

Peanut-pushing up Pikes Peak ranks among Manitou Springs’ other enduring civic events including the Emma Crawford Coffin Race (commemorating a woman buried in three places) and a fruit cake throwing competition. Maybe, Maio said, the Hormel Foods Planters Peanut NUTmobile will soon pay a visit.

As Salem was heading into the steepest, rockiest part of his ascent, he ran out of water. And with roughly a quarter mile left to crawl, he said, he realized he was severely dehydrated.

He pushed through, reaching the summit around sunrise. He went to the doors of the $65 million summit house that Colorado Springs opened in June 2021. An employee appeared inside at 7:30 am, which Salem understood to be the official opening time.

“I said, ‘Hey, do you have some water?’ ” Salem said. “He said the city had changed the opening time to 8:30. He said I had to wait.”

Another man outside the door informed the employee that this was “the peanut pusher” who had just completed his ascent.

“He shut the door, locked it, and turned away,” Salem said.

A staffer at the Pikes Peak summit house on Thursday said “it usually opens by 8 o’clock and, yes, there is water available.”

Salem suggested installing a tap outside giving access for thirsty hikers. “Otherwise, somebody’s going to end up dead right outside the doors.”

He said he weighed 158 pounds at the start of his 6-day, 20-hour ordeal and finished at 146 pounds. Now rested, he said he plans to climb Pikes Peak again, walking this time on Saturday with his spouse, weather permitting.

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