Mt. Bierstadt

Mt. Bierstadt (Front Range, Guanella Pass TH)

  • Attempted 8/31/14
  • 7 miles round trip
  • Apprx 4-5 hr hike
  • Easy 14er (Class 2 – Standard West Slopes approach)
  • +2,850′ net elevation gain to peak (14,060′)
  • Equipment:
    • sunblock (at that elevation, you’ll feel the sun)
    • tech shell (you will want a shell to protect you from the wind, which was 50+ mph at the peak when I went)
    • Soft shell (always layer when attempting a 14er)
    • headlamp (you always start a 14er in the early morning if you intend to summit)

Some friends and I decided to take a trip for labor day weekend at summit a 14er to start off our trip.  We intended to complete the Mt. Bierstadt (class 2) and Mt. Evans (class 2) combo via the sawtooth connection (class 3).  We left Boulder around 3:30a with all of our hiking gear.  We then likely started hiking around 5:30a or so.

Just for reference, this is how dark it was when we started - a headlamp was more than necessary.
Just for reference, this is how dark it was when we started – a headlamp was more than necessary.

Once the sun came out to say hello, we could see our intended route!

I think this picture captures just how beautiful the sun was to us!
I think this picture captures just how beautiful the sun was to us!

It felt like this valley was never going to reach the 14ers!

It was a bit misty, to say the least!
It was a bit misty, to say the least!
This picture illustrates our intended route better.  The tall rounded peak on the right is Mt. Bierstadt and the sawtooth is right in the middle (I wonder where it got its name).  Mt. Evans is behind the sawtooth, so we cannot see it from here.
This picture illustrates our intended route better. The tall rounded peak on the right is Mt. Bierstadt and the sawtooth is right in the middle (I wonder where it got its name). Mt. Evans is behind the sawtooth, so we cannot see it from here.  The combo would have made for a 10.25 mile RT hike.

It takes awhile before you actually begin gaining elevation, but it all happens pretty quick once you reach the ascent up the mountain!

Finally made it to some elevation gain!
Finally made it to some elevation gain!

The hike of a 14er always begins to take a toll on the lungs around 13,500′ or so.  In our case, the wind and sleet picked up right around then, adding even further to the challenge of summitting!

This captures the trail heading up to the peak.  One can take a scramble up the rocks, basically the center of this picture, for a difficult class 2 hike.  I didn't see anyone attempt this today, and I wouldn't think it is worth it until you get bored of the standard route.
This captures the trail heading up to the peak. One can take a scramble up the rocks, basically the center of this picture, for a difficult class 2 hike. I didn’t see anyone attempt this today, and I wouldn’t think it is worth it until you get bored of the standard route.

A small rock scramble is necessary to reach the peak!

A little bit of snow at the top, which could be evaded by scrambling the rocks.
A little bit of snow at the top, which could be evaded by scrambling the rocks.
This illustrates just what makes the sawtooth a class 3, as some exposure will be found gaining the ridge of the large mountain that the sawtooth connects to.
This illustrates just what makes the sawtooth a class 3, as some exposure will be found gaining the ridge of the large mountain that the sawtooth connects to.
Of course, a panoramic shot at the top!
Of course, a panoramic shot at the top!
What is a 14er until you have a picture with your group holding up a makeshift
What is a 14er until you have a picture with your group holding up a makeshift “summit sign?!”
View of the backside of Mt. Bierstadt.  Looks great to ski down, if it wasn't for hiking back up again!
View of the backside of Mt. Bierstadt. Looks great to ski down, if it wasn’t for hiking back up again!
The seal at the top of Mt. Bierstadt.
The seal at the top of Mt. Bierstadt.

While we intended to do the combo, common sense told us that it was far too windy and wet to begin to attempt the dangerous class 3 sawtooth (too much exposure for wetness or wind to be safe).  Overall, I really want to attempt this again this summer on a day I know I can make it over the sawtooth over to Mt. Evans (because taking a car to the peak of Evan’s DOES NOT count).  Great 14er if you are looking for something easier but still in the front range.

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