Ever climb a 14er, when that wasn't the original plan for the day? I did this once in April of 1980-something. I had gone up to Guanella Pass with the intent to do a little late-season cross country skiing (Guanella Pass was kept open through the winter back then). The weather was sunny and warm, and when I got there, I saw that the west ridge of Bierstadt was snow-free, and said to myself, what the heck? I'm gonna go for it. I ascended to the top of the snow, stashed my skis, and hiked up the grassy ridge to the summit. I had it to myself.
As was typically the case before the current trail was built, the crux of the climb (and descent) of Bierstadt was getting through the willows. You kids don't know how easy you have it. Get off my lawn! Snow helped on the ascent, as I did not have to contend with the mud. Not so much on the descent, as I had not only the willows to contend with, but on that warm, sunny spring day, the "snow" in the willows had turned to rotten slush, so I was postholing on skis. This was my first non-summer peak climb, though the conditions on the upper part of the route were not much different (except for the lack of a crowd) than they would have been in the summer.
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