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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-05-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: Goal was to see the sunrise from the top of Mt. Bierstadt today, May 25. Left from closure at the campground at 1:45am. I didn't wear snowshoes or microspikes going up, had no problems with post holing the whole hike. The ascent was pretty straightforward - I had plenty of moon light, plus my lamp and plenty of tracks to lead the way, but there were plenty of "pick your own line" moments, particularly in the willows. The firm snow made it pretty easy to go wherever I wanted in terms of my route. Wind picked up significantly around 12,500', and then it really picked up when I reached the summit at 5:30, just in time to see the sun peeking over Evans. I snapped a picture I like to think is pretty cool, then got out of there due to the high wind. I wore microspikes for the first 500' of the descent then didn't need them or snowshoes the rest of the way down. Crust was supportive of my weight (165 + 20lb pack) coming back through the willows/Scott Gomer/the trailhead at 7:30am. The route from the trailhead is still about 90% snow covered, but it's getting pretty thin in most places. Personally, I don't think there's enough coverage to warrant schlepping your board or skis up there, but there are definitely a few lines from the summit down to 12,000'. I was back at my car by 8AM - hike stats were 9.8 miles in 6 hours 15 minutes, net elevation gain 3600'.
|2016-05-22||Route: West Slopes
Info: Headed up today and had a great time - bluebird to start and scattered clouds on the finish, snowpack was firm enough to forego snowshoes on the ascent. The decent was fine, only because I had snowshoes. Lots of groups were getting stuck post-holing their way out. So bring snowshoes or other floatation and have a blast.
|2016-05-21||Route: West Slopes
Info: Conditions are not to bad if you get an early start, i left lot below closed gate @ 6am and hit summit by 8:47am, the face was windy and on decent the tundra was beginning to soften and ended up post holing about 10ish times not enough to warrant me putting on my snow shoes i was at the parking lot by 11am below gate. i would foresee that as long as an early start is made it should be a decent endeavor the next few days (do not try and forge your own path across the meadow) saw a few trying and they were posthole masters by the end. as far as layers all i "needed and used" was rain/wind breaker, gators, trekking poles, hydro, long underwear, zip off leg pants, shades, hat, and a decent pair of boots...only thing i used out of my 27 lb. pack was the dang sign and thank you to whoever took the picture for me @ summit with my sign.
|2016-05-20||Route: West Slopes
Info: Road is dry to the TH but blocked at the winter closure. I believe Clear Creek County will open it next week. Good trench to the top. An early start is recommended as later in the day, the snow gets pretty soft and snowshoes are beneficial. I will post pics later.
|2016-05-14||Route: West Slopes
Info: *Falcor's owner - your picture is attached! Guanella Pass road is paved but the gate it still shut, so you'll need to park at the Guanella Pass Campground and walk 1.75 miles up to the Guanella Pass TH. You'll know you've reached the TH when you see bathrooms (inaccessible due to snow) on your right. The ascent is relatively easy but I recommend wearing snowshoes. I did not wear snowshoes on my ascent but was very happy to have them on my way down (snow can be slick and hard in some steep areas). Snow is packed but I was still post holing up to my shins in some areas. It was a pretty windy day but we were expecting storms by the afternoon. I recommend starting EARLY, giving yourself about 4 hours to summit if you're a slower hiker. If you're inexperienced with 14ers, be sure to prepare correctly! Even "easy" 14ers can be dangerous. Dress appropriately (waterproof gloves, hiking boots, lots of layers as the wind at the peak will freeze you), research if you need snowshoes or microspikes, invest in some trekking poles, etc. Better to be overprepared with a little extra gear than halfway up a mountain and miserable. Also, pack a snack!
|2016-05-13||Route: West Slopes
Info: I wanted to write to add to savedbygrace's condition report because I am the guy with the dog they were referring to. I began my hike from the winter parking lot around 10:00 AM. I got a much later start than anticipated, and this will be the last time I ignore the rules about being off the mountain before afternoon. I always thought it was because the weather conditions can get bad, but failed to realize it is also so you can avoid post holing your way back out due to the snow/ice pack melt. From the trail head across the willows/marsh area I followed the footsteps through and everything went fine. I waited to put my snowshoes on until probably the last 1/4 of the hike to the summit. I got to the summit around 215-230, stayed for a short 15-20 minutes, and began my descent. The descent was a bit slick but nothing too bad, up until the valley/willows. This is where the trip became quite horrifying, and I am writing so no one makes the same mistake. It was around 4-430 when I began to try and make my way through the willows. I had gone about 1/4-1/2 a mile when I looked back and realized the last girl on the mountain was stuck behind me. I post holed back to her, and we tried to decide the best route to get out as I could see the beginning of the trail head. At this point it was 530, and I knew there was no time to play around. We followed the footsteps/trail out and postholed, crawled, etc. to the trail head/guanella pass road and got to it at around 8 pm. I had no water left from about 6 pm onward (I began the day with over 4 liters of water) and frostbite had set in on my feet and left hand/fingertips. I write this part because I want anyone attempting it in the current condition to be sure to bring enough water, and be sure to start EARLY so this doesn't happen to you. I could go into greater detail, but I just want the main point to be : start this hike early as possible, and keep in mind on your way out you may have to post hole quite a ways to get back to trail head (my estimate would be 1.5 miles). Snowshoes did not help in the willow tree area, in fact, it made it worse because getting stuck with snow shoes made it more difficult to get my feet back out of snow. Other Info : A man who was working on the roads told me as I was walking up the guanella pass road that the road should be opened up to the trail head very soon. This will aid in the hike only being 7 miles RT instead of 10.5-11. I don't want this report to deter anyone, as I made a big mistake in starting so late. Had I left at the correct time I think this would've all been avoided and the descent would have been just as pleasant as the ascent. So I I just wanted to leave a word of warning because, it could've proved to be a deadly mistake.
|2016-05-13||Route: West Slopes
Info: Went out to hike my first 14er with my wife yesterday on my 36th birthday. We were ill prepared to say the least. We had no snowshoes, no waterproof gloves, only running and hiking shoes. We started from the Naylor Lake Road parking lot as the gate was closed up to the trailhead for snow removal. The gate should be opened soon as they had cleared the road up while we were on our hike; road was without snow on our way down. We started out about 9:10 am; the trip across the valley was solid and safe; we had snow the whole way up, but not too difficult. There were some patches of dry ground and rock gardens to climb on as we got higher. We made the summit about 1:50 pm. Didn't stay long, had to get back down to get our kids from school. The trip down was fast; snow was getting slushier the closer we got to the bottom. We made it down to the valley in about an hour; it was about 3 pm, I think. This is where the trip turned into a nightmare. As we begin to start back down across the valley we start to sink 3-4 ft with every step we took. I decided to try to make some snowshoes by cutting a bunch of the willow branches off, and I luckily had some old boot laces in my pack; we tied them on the bottom of our shoes, but it was futile. The branches either just broke or sunk; either way, that was not going to work. This is the point my wife and I began to feel some panic. We did not panic though and stayed focused to make it back to the road. I could see the parking lot and bathrooms the entire time about 1.5 miles across the valley. We finally started crawling and rolling down into the valley to spots where the trees were not poking out as this seemed the only way to get footing. We got to walk a bit here and there, but mostly crawled and rolled for the 1.5 miles. It was brutal; it took 2 hrs to get across the valley back to the parking lot. We were sopping wet from above our waist to our shoes. My wife and I both had sunscreen on, but suffered some pretty severe burns. My wife also was getting the beginning of frost bite on her fingers. As of today she still has no feeling in her right hand fingertips. I'm all good, it turns out not wearing gloves at all was the best idea. There was one point where my wife had to dig her shoe out of the hole 3 ft down; it was crazy. We are just glad to be alive at this point. There were two other hikers behind us, a guy who did have snowshoes (granted, I'm not sure snowshoes were going to help in that mess or not) and his dog; there was also a girl who probably didn't summit until about 2:45 or so. We were not sure if she had snowshoes or not. We never saw her again, but we did see the guy with the dog starting across the valley as were were about 3/4 of the way across it. We are still worried about them. We called 911 to let them know about the girl up there, but haven't heard anything.
|2016-04-19||Route: West Slopes
Info: Hiked all the way to the summit in snowshoes. Brought microspikes but didn't need them. There were enough snow for me to stay in snowshoes the whole way. Breakable crust below treeline, between 7-8 am I was sinking to shin to knee deep even with snowshoes on. The willows had a weight supporting crust around 9-10 am, it was actually much easier to cross the willows than hiking up Guanella Pass Road. I did not follow the summer trail because at the steepest part between 12,000 and 12,200 feet it looks like the trail crossed some small wind loaded slope around some rock outcroppings. I chose to go far (climber's) right of the rock band to an open slope with minimal wind loading. Snow condition between the willow and the summit is variable, some thin sections, some powder, some crust. But overall there were surprising amount of powder. A motivated skier that doesn't mind dealing with some thin sections can definitely find enough snow to go top-to-bottom in skis.
|2016-04-19||Route: West Slopes
Info: Skiied from the winter trailhead this morning. Broke trail through some heinous breakable crust up to the willows around 11,500ft. Continued to find a crust on most, if not all, aspects. Bierstadt still looked to be a little bony for skiing from the summit. A few snowshoers were going up as I was coming down, so there should be an even better trail/trench by now on the road. Take flotation of some sort, or be hating your life.
|2016-04-15||Route: West Slopes
Info: Solo climber -- First attempts. Two devastating days on Mt. Bierstadt resulted in 2 failed summit attempts. Guanella Pass is closed at the junction of Silver Dollar Road. It's about 1.7 miles to the trailhead along the abandoned road. Day 1 -- Generally favorable weather, partly cloudy & light winds, at times. Unfortunately, the post-holing along the willows portion of the foothills hike was so severe it permanently torn out one of the buckle fasteners from the snow shoe. Still with energy & drive, attempted to continue on without the snow shoes just shy of the shoulder, which become futile. During the retreat, the post-holing became so severe, had to crawl on hands & knees at times for nearly a mile back to the trailhead. Brutal. Day 2 -- Overnight was spent in the back of the SUV in freezing temps to get an earlier start around 6:30am. Breezed up Guanella Pass & through the initial willows portion. Breezed across Scott Gomer Creek to the shoulder. Confident of a summit bid! And maybe a two-fer of Mt. Evans?! Although the trail is nearly indiscernible, other climbers' tracks, skis & snow shoes are relatively vivid. It becomes a little tricky at the shoulder, so you may have to pick your route. Overcast skies & light snow fall had been threatening during the early morning, but a major front moved in just as I cleared 12,700. Trouble! At 12,779 ft, white-out conditions, the valley in a mist, pelted with snowfall & knocked back by strong wind gusts. Had to seek shelter behind a rock. Temps dropped enough to have to switch into heavy duty jacket & gloves. Suddenly, it became dangerous. Swift retreat down the shoulder when BOOM! from a thunderstorm. The skies nearly turned black. It was a harrowing 4 miles retreat across the creek and back to Guanella Pass. Nearly 3-4 inches of snow accumulated within 30-45 min. Harrowing.
|2016-04-09||Route: West Slopes
Info: Summited Bierstadt today - all around great hike. But make certain to bring those snowshoes, especially if the day is sunny. The road was just fine without snowshoes both ways - but the top layer was slushy in the afternoon. Trail was easy enough to follow above the road, through the willows, and so on. Through willows was definitely a major annoyance, especially on the return. Deep postholes with snowshoes even. Above the willows, scattered snow fields mean snowshoes are optional. Have a great time out there!! Did I mention - those willows REALLY suck? In other news....water is wet and snow is cold.
|2016-04-06||Route: West Slopes
Info: Wintery solo ascent; 3.5 hour up, 7 return. Road to Guanella Pass in good shape to closure, some icy sections. Easy travel through the infamous willows on variable wind-driven snow for the ascent and return; trail discernable most of the way. Snowshoes from parking lot to summit, even talus slope, and return.
|2016-03-01||Route: West Slopes
Info: Guanella Pass was clear all the way to the winter trail head. I left the lot at 7:50 and put on my snowshoes as soon as I got to the snow packed road. There was a nice 2-4 inches of fresh powder, but I could still make out previous tracks. I am sure that spikes would have been fine, but I didn't want to have to carry my snowshoes - and it was just easier to have them on. The 1.25 miles up the road was beautiful and quiet, with occasional gusts of wind and snow. As soon as I reached the Bierstadt Trail parking lot, the wind was about as brutal as I have seen here. As usual, it was blowing directly from the east - bringing some extra power this morning. The trail was easy to find for the short trek to the large sign, but was nearly impossible to find after that due to the constantly moving snow drifts. I occasionally found some previous snowshoe tracks (I was the only car and only person out here today) and did my best to follow them. Since the wind was mostly at my back, I was able to see a decent distance in front of me. From mile 1.3 to about 2.5, I struggled often to find the trail, but only had a few post holes here and there. From mile 2.5 the trail was easily visible, and around mile 4, the snowshoe trail deviated left of the actual trail. I realized that I was off the official trail, but I was on firm snow and cutting off some distance by following the previous tracks. I did this for about half a mile where I ended up tacking off the snowshoes since I was traversing almost completely on the rocks (I probably could have taken them off earlier, but I wanted to see what the snow was like near the top). With the snowshoes off and the wind blasting harder than ever, the peak was in sight and I joyfully hiked the final pitch. Although I did have spikes with me, the wind was too brutal for me to stop and put them on. (It was so cold, my GoPro and iPhone both were not able to turn on.) I hung out at the top for just enough time for a few pictures, and then headed back down. Usually this is the easiest part of the hike, but I now had to endure four miles of 50+ mph head winds blasting snow and ice in my face making it near impossible to see more than a few feet in front of me. I maintained my original trail for only a short time where I soon found myself far off path and post holing far more than I wanted to. At around mile 5.6, I deviated SW of the trail and ended up finding the trail again around mile 6.4 - to where the original trail was nearly impossible to spot due to the ever blowing snow. Overal, it was an easy hike with difficult elements. Snowshoes were a must and goggles would have helped greatly. Link to my Garmin Report: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1070038339
|2016-02-28||Route: West Slopes
Info: Firstly the guanella pass is closed 1.7 miles from trailhead (3.4 miles added to total route). But anyways we started at 7 a.m. and didn't finish for 11 hours! We stopped and relaxed a lot but if you are doing this in the winter, give yourself time!! Snow shoes in the meadows would have been extremely helpful but not necessity and boot spikes were a plus. I personally didn't wear mine and I did just fine. The snow adds one hell of an extra element but all in all if you are looking for a challenging but safe winter 14er, this is it!
|2016-02-20||Route: West Slopes
Info: Started at 8:30ish. 12 miles round trip exactly from parking lot. Trail was good all the way (minor post holing), brought snowshoes and didn't need them at all! Very windy, especially on top. Felt like 50+ mph constant winds. Wind didn't bother us, we dressed appropriately. Gear: Microspikes, Gortex windbreaker outshells, ski mask and ski goggles with warm boots and gloves made it all happen comfortably. Pictures show trail conditions.
|2016-02-20||Route: West Slopes
Info: Snowshoes aren't necessary but are recommended. I used them for about 2/3rds of the trail. Microspikes might be nice afterwords as there is lots of hard, windblown snow towards the top.
|2016-02-14||Route: West Slopes
Info: Cold.... The road is closed at the Guanella Pass Campground exactly 1.7 miles from the summer TH. 3.4 extra round trip. Reached the summer TH at 4:30am. Continued on with our headlamps following a slightly visible snow-packed trail. The winds were strong even from the very start. We brought snowshoes, but actually didn‘t use them the entire trip. If you did venture off the trail, you found yourself in knee deep of snow. We got to the peak of Bierstadt just before 7am as the sun was rising. The last few hundred feet to the top was definitely the most treacherous as we were scrambling from rock-to-rock nearly getting pushed over a few times. The plan was also to attempt Mt. Evans via Sawtooth, but the brutal winds made us weary and the route unappealing. Once, we got back below treeline, the winds had tapered off alittle and it actually was a beautiful day. BH
|2016-02-06||Route: West Slopes
Info: I wore spikes up Guanella road just for extra grip. Not needed but stay on the packed route or you may fall into knee deep snow. From the TH on, snowshoes are good to have. Postholing even a few inches the whole way will wear you down. It was pretty windy and miserable yesterday.
|2016-01-23||Route: West Slopes
Info: Road closed at campground. Hard packed snow up to Guanella Pass, fine without traction / flotation. Snowshoes needed for willows and beyond.
|2016-01-11||Route: West Slopes
Info: The road is closed at the Guanella Pass Campground exactly 1.7 miles from the summer TH. 3.4 extra round trip. The road is easy to walk. I did not get the summit because I did not bring snow shoes which are absolutely necessary to get through the willows to the base of the west slopes. Bring snow shoes or some sort of flotation device.