This was my 1st 14er. An overnight boy scout trip when I was 12 years old. A passion ignited.
It is a very different climb in the winter - the willows don't come into effect. Basically just a long snowshoe to the top. Can't beat the solitude, though!
You'll have to read the trip report once it is posted. Quite an adventure via the Sawtooth to Mt. Evans.
My wife Mary Jane, six friends, and I climbed Bierstadt from Guanella Pass. Fortunately it had stopped raining by the time we started. However, there was light fog and fresh snow above 13,000 feet; because of the snow we lost the trail in places, but several cairns helped show us the way. Saw two mountain goats. My fourth Fourteener, at age 70; my wife's third, but she has done several difficult Thirteeners this summer that I did not attempt.
Great hike, good weather, suprisingly few people on the summit at 9:30 on a Saturday. To make it more interesting we descended via The Sawtooth and the gully north of The Sawtooth. Check out my trip report for more details. Check out my website for a complete set of the photos I took during the trip: www.leachfam.com.
Fun trip, my first 14er, hiked with my friend Andy. The boardwalks through the willows and swamplands (very wet even during this year's drought!) were a most welcome alternative to the horror stories we've heard about the trudging through the mud before they were built. Past the willows the trail gets fairly steep; nothing at all difficult but it was strenuous. Once we got to the top of the ridge, we were rewarded with a fun boulder climb to the peak. We signed the registry and talked with some folks at the top; met a 72 year old man whom I found most inspirational. His being at the top means I could have more than 40 more years of hiking/climbing ahead of me! Yep, I'm hooked. We spent 2 hours at the top and even got some time on the peak all to ourselves. Ventured out towards the sawtooth just to check it out. Looks challenging and fun; might have to try it sometime. Hike down was uneventful, but very fast. Can't wait to do Quandary next week!
Traversed the Sawtooth from the Evans summit and back with David, Cyndie, and Joseph. David and Cyndie were moving slowly, so they descended to Guanilla Pass while Joseph and I returned to the car on Evans (2 hours) and drove 50 miles to Guanilla (1:30) just in time to meet them. I wore sandals, which worked fine even though it rained for the return traverse.
"One of the easiest fourteeners," my book says. Just goes to show you that you shouldn't believe everything you read. Of course I take a little credit for making this hike a lot harder than it should have been. My ascent started normally from Guanella Pass at 7 am. The hike to Bierstadt summit was easy and uneventful, especially with the new boardwalks strategically placed in the infamous Willows. One note is that smoke from the Hayman fire made the sky hazy and the air taste burnt. Made summit at 9:30 am.
Then, things started to go down hill -- literally. I traversed the Sawtooth ridge toward Evans. The class 3 ridge takes quite a bit out of you, but I have to believe that going this direction is a lot easier than the other way around since you are climbing up the steepest parts of the ridge. There were a couple of scary spots, but nothing to worry too much about. The long trek from just past the Sawtooth toward Evans is a killer though. Long and demoralizing. On top of that, the weather started to turn windy and cold.
Made summit of Evans by 13:20. By then, the wind is really howling, and I had to put on all my cold weather gear. It was disheartening to see all those energetic tourists driving around the peak in their shiny SUVs, and even more tempting to hitch a ride down with one of them! Had I not come from Bierstadt, I probably would have tried.
Hiking back, I decided not to tackle the Sawtooth again. Instead, I went straight after the saddle and took an alternate route down and across the Willows. Mistake! The Willows sucks all energy out of you. In places, the plants were taller than me and so thick, I had to raise my arms and force my way through using my body. Millions of aphids flying around, I probably inhaled at least 20. The marsh beneath my feet was soggy and soaked my shoes, not to mention made me weary of quicksand. I had to use the branches of the willows that I displaced as "stepping stones" to keep from sinking. Took me about 2 hours to get out of the Willows. Fortunately, I can see the top of Guanella Pass most of the time. Otherwise I would have gotten lost for sure.
So take my advice, if you decide to do what I did, go back on the Sawtooth. It may be steep, but it'll save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run!
#3 of 6 fourteeners in 4 days of hiking.
Started from Summit Lake and ascended to Mt. Spaulding. From there, we traversed to the Sawtooth Ridge starting point. Traversed the Sawtooth and summitted Bierstadt for the second time.
Troy, Patrick and I climbed this peak together. It's my second time climbing Biersadt. We were glad to see the bridges over the willows, that sure makes crossing the "willows" easer with less erosion. Thanks. Also the realingment of the trail is great. The old route wasn't good, too steep which allowed for lots of erosion. The new route adds distance but is much better for the environment. We counted over 100 people who passed us (I'm very slow). Most of these were great. A few had dogs which were mostly well behaved but there was only one on a leash. That's against the law. Patrick got a $50 fine when he got a ticket from a Game Warden who was at the top of Mt. Massive when we got up there. Also, there were two climbers, a guy in a yellow t-shire and his girl friend who were trying to catch friends coming down the mountain. The problem was they were off trail on the tundra all the way. The girl got back on the trail but the guy didn't. That's poor trail etiquette. Saw a herd of goats but they were far away. Troy summited at 11:15, Patrick at 11:45, and I summited at 12:10. I said I was slow.
My beautiful wife Carol climbed with me. We got a late start and the willows were their normal quagmire. There were many people on the trail as usual and the normal number of mountain goats. We could have petted a kid but thought better of it. Even with our late start we summited before noon. The weather was great. It's a much easer climb now that they have bridged the muckie willows. They did a great job.
Lots of mud and willows. Touched the top and ran - lightining and hail before noon.
As a climber from California I noticed things are different in Colorado. The first difference is: NO PERMITS REQUIRED. The second is that there are a lot of roads, and they go high. My climb from the pass started at 7:40 a.m., and took three hours to cover the three miles from the car and about 2,800' of elevation gain. A nice, civilized pace :-). The weather was clear, the winds were dead calm, the temperature was about 45 degrees, and the view was fantastic. I could see east over the plains and west across the broad valley of Rocky Mountain National Park to the mountain ranges beyond. To the north and south, there were mountains, mountains everywhere. We were the first to the summit that day, which since we started from the parking lot first, was gratifying. After about 20 minutes at the top we started down. We met about 15 other climbers below us as we descended, and three mountaineering dogs, which sort of put things in perspective. The uphill slog back through the now sloppy mud, slush and willows was dreadful and it was with a great deal of relief that I finally reached the car at 1:00 p.m.
I just arrived from Florida (17 ft) the day before, so I started getting an altitude headache on the summit and had to abandon the Sawtooth to Evans. Back at the car I felt a bit drunk (although I had no alcohol) which I recognized as the onset of cerebral edema, but I recovered quickly once I descended further.
I climbed Bierstadt once before from Evans when I was better acclimated, making a big circle around the Sawtooth, up the north ridge and down the south, past Abyss Lake and up class 3 boulders back to Evans. A hard but fun hike.
The sawtooth ridge was fun, and, I though exciting for 3rd class. This was before I did Kelso Ridge on Torreys peak, and the incredible ridge on Quandary peak. Still Bierstadt is a fun climb, and interesting enough that you need to pay attention.
Have done this peak many times from all directions.
Highly recomend the Sawtooth ridge climb while your up there and the S. Ridge climg too.
check out Roaches 14er book for a great round trip from Evans.
Nice Quiet Climb
Cold blustery day. Summit had intermittant sleet. Summit boulders much like Democrat Ridge. Sawtooth was enjoyable with some exposure. Climbed from Evans and threaded through mountain goats and sheep on return. Guanella side looked like a golf course.
Very very crowded being a Sunday and all. Second 14er on my list and was pretty easy. Was able to get from the top to the bottom in less than 2 hours.
Very easy climb, best done as a "while I'm in the neighborhood" peak. Avoid the dreaded willows