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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-06-24||Route: West Slopes
Info: ***Items to bring: Yack Tracks, hiking boots (no keens), lightweight hat, lightweight gloves, long-sleeve shirt, wind-guard, and lightweight puffer jacket, and bandanna for your nose and mouth and sunglasses through the willows- the bugs are AWFUL (but not for too long). Wish everyone posted like this... I forgot my Yack tracks, hat, and gloves and they would have been nice to have had because it was COLD up top! The route is CLEAR of most snow. Only a little at about 13,000 feet for a little while and yack tracks would be helpful. Start early to avoid it turning into slippery mush- which it started to by 11 am. Took me 4 hours and I consider myself in decent shape! It was hard! 14ers are no joke! ***1/2 mile in, the trail is covered by a rushing stream. There are good enough social trails to get you around it though. Look for the two newly carved logs placed across the stream and go OVER the large rock instead of jumping around the nearby islands to avoid accidental plumage! you can read my blog for more details on this peak and others as I attempt to climb all the 14ers this summer. Read at sunshineof1985.com.
|2015-06-20||Route: West Slopes
Info: The same conditions apply as previous updates. The creek is still running full; having waterproof footwear is good for the mud in the willows. The only thing I‘d advise is that some form of traction (whether Microspikes or Yaktrax) would be helpful with the snow around 13,000‘. If you go early enough in the day, it‘s easy to just throw your traction on and climb up. Some people were having difficulty with this early on in the day.
|2015-06-19||Route: West Slopes
Info: Snow above 13,000‘. Light freeze overnight kept things solid until about 0830. Overall mostly melted out and dry. Go get it!
|2015-06-17||Route: West Slopes
Info: Got to the Guanella Pass parking lot around 9:30am, turned on my etrex there. The first portion of the hike through the willows to Scott Gomer Creek is fine in the morning, but parts were totally flooded on the back, lots of slippery mud. Scott Gomer Creek itself is running large and in charge, so much so in fact that the actual crossing is about 50-75 yards to the left of where the trail takes you through (unless you want to wade a creek, I saw people doing this) at a chokepoint of willow marshes where you can make a jump across. The next portion of the willows is easy and in good order. When I reached the snowline there was some thigh-deep postholing the first 100 yards but the snow was firm the rest of the way up, quite windy at times, I carried snowshoes but never saw the need for them as rocky outcroppings every couple hundred feet made them useless as the snow was only shin deep at points. The bootpack up the very clear and easy to follow at all times. Hit the summit around 11:30, amazing views, saw many families and dogs (so many dogs, awesome) making the summit so I would say this is a great early season choice if you can get a decently early start on a nice day, most should summit. Summit conditions were were firm snow and strong winds were present but nothing concerning. On the way down the bootpack goes left or right, I personally glissaded down the right and had a lot of fun, the snow turned slushy quick on the face on the way down, and sliding on my butt I made it down much quicker than I had ascended. Left or right the trail goes along the ridgeline and the hike back is simple as long as you remembered where you jumped the river (I totally forgot and people were following me like I had it in the bank). When I got back to my car I checked my etrex and the trip had taken me 5hrs5min with the total round trip from the parking lot at 7.05 miles and a peak elevation at 14,086ft when I checked at the summit. Camped at Guanella Pass Campgrounds for the day, pretty nice spot despite beings so close to the road, every spot has a fire pit and an outdoor grill. Just don‘t forget to wear sunscreen like I did
|2015-06-17||Route: West Slopes
Info: I did this with my husband today and it was our first 14‘er. We arrived at 6 to start our adventure The walk down to Scott Gomer creek was pleasant if you like walking in mud soup and trying to respect the trail by staying on the trail and not walking around the mud soup. Which brings me to the "raging" creek.. We looked for at least 45 minutes for a "safe" spot to cross and finally found a spot about 25 yards downstream where a big Boulder is and we hiked up our pants took boots and socks off and waded across. I am not going to lie it was freezing in the early morning but somewhat tolerable by 1:00 when we headed back across. We both had extra socks packed and ready to go. We continued up the very muddy trail and about 12,800 is where the snow hit. We put on our microspikes. From here you can see posthole tracks all the way up but I don‘t think they were anywhere near where the trail actually is. I would say I am in reasonable shape and my husband is in excellent shape. It was a straight up vertical climb in snow as deep as above the knee at times. Not easy! Most people were going much slower from here to the top. I did see a girl off to the right and I am thinking she was the only one who knew where the trail actually was as she looked to climb the boulders and we did not. Beautiful up top! Going down was not as easy.... Slushy by 11:30 and I cannot say I stayed vertical the whole time. We made it back to our vehicle all muddy and excited that we did it. If this is your first 14‘er my advice is to wait for the snow to melt away some. Good luck!
|2015-06-15||Route: West Slopes
Info: Muddy and sloppy. There is still some snow in spots along the boardwalk in the willows but it‘s melting fast. Follow the trail along the creek upstream about 100 yards and there‘s an easy skip across. No need to go wading. Lots of snow still on the last couple hundred feet. We were there late in the morning and hikers were sinking in up to their rears. It‘s melting quickly but will still be a difficult climb for the rest of the week. Several without the proper gear turned back at these last snow fields. Be prepared and you can make the summit.
|2015-06-14||Route: West Slopes
Info: Hiked and skied Bierstadt today. It was absolutely excellent skiing. It was as good as it gets for June 14. I did three laps on the top 1000‘ (the only part of the trip that has continuous snow). There is still a lot of snow up there, but the conditions will rapidly deteriorate this week. Extremely muddy through the willows. The snow bridge is gone (or at least I couldn‘t find it), so we waded through the knee deep creek along the normal trail path. It was cold, but if you take your shoes and socks off and have wool socks, it is fine because its only about 10‘ across and less than knee deep. The top is completely filled in with snow, so no boulders to climb over, but its basically a staircase of snow for the last 200‘ or so. Its doable without snowshoes (lots of people did it today), but snowshoes help. The snow skied more like spring powder than summer corn today (at least at the top) and it was excellent.
|2015-06-13||Route: West Slopes
Info: Arrived at 7:30am for my first 14er! Was super excited, but the trail condition was not what I anticipated from a previous climbers report on 6/12. There‘s still some snow on the initial trail, not bad, but I did sink once or twice. The path was super muddy and slippery. However, the real downfall was the lack of a trail by the river. There was no way to get over the river safely to finish making the hike up to the summit. In one area there were two tall rocks that you could jump across to, but they were not flat rocks you could jump onto easily. You literally had to jump up and across (not good for short legs!) and grab the top of the rock and without upper body strength or a good latch onto that rock you would have landed in the river. I watched several younger ladies make this jump, although it took them 10 minutes to muster up the courage! I was not going to attempt it so I turned around and headed back for the hour and a half drive home.
|2015-06-09||Route: West Slopes
Info: Hi guys, wanted to share some recent beta of Bierstadt‘s west slope. Left Trailhead: 8:50AM Summit: 11:20AM The willows are filled with on/off snow all the way to the river crossing and then some. You will need snowshoes if you do not wish to posthole. Upon reaching the creek, turn left and go about 300 feet to a snow crossing over the river, once across, turn right and head back to the main route. Until treeline, when you are not walking on snow, you are most likely in some nasty mud. Things are in ultra meltdown right now - so expect some groggy conditions (even early, as a freeze at night is rare). Once at treeline, things are pretty nice, the snow is firm and there are many human trails to follow. In the morning, you snow is hard enough for you to walk on without snowshoes, in the afternoon, it is not. sooooo...bring your snowshoes! I skid the route and it was fantastic! I‘ve attached a link to my youtube video below....take a look! The snow was awesome, some nice spring corn. I had to walk about an hour to get back to the car, but it was worth it. Overall the route is totally doable, just bring your snowshoes and be prepared to take them off/put them on a few times. And don‘t wear shoes you don‘t want to get muddy haha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc-E0NUDvZ4
|2015-06-09||Route: West Slopes
Info: Bierstadt is in great shape for an enjoyable snow climb provided you get an early start. Upper portion still almost entirely covered. Microspikes were definitely helpful on the upper slopes allowing for a fairly direct approach to the summit. First couple of miles from the TH is rapidly turning into posthole hell and mud soup. That said, with an early start today (6:30am) I didn‘t need any flotation at all. Returned to my Jeep at 11 and didn‘t posthole once. Early start right now=really fun climb.
|2015-06-07||Route: West Slopes
Info: Intermittent snow with prevalent posthole destruction from TH to 12,200‘, small detour north required to cross Scott Gomer on a snow bridge, continuous snow from 12,300‘ (above Northwest Shoulder in Photo #6 of Bill‘s route description) to summit, definitely skiable, getting extremely sloppy in the willows. I‘ll try to get pictures up later. Feel free to PM me for more info! Some opinions: Coverage might be good enough to ski the top ~1,500‘ through the weekend of 6/13, but probably less than that. The creek crossing will likely be an issue, as I bet the snow bridge will be gone. I would recommend against hiking Bierstadt for a couple weeks until the willows dry out (see thread on damaging trails). If you‘re looking for a ski descent, I would recommend skiing early after a good freeze in order to minimize issues in the willows. Or bring shoes and soak your feet on the way out.
|2015-06-05||Route: West Slopes
Info: Relatively straightforward climb unfortunately cut short near the final boulder hopping area at the top due to nasty weather. I would recommend snowshoes unless you want to porthole a bunch. I spoke with a skier on the way down who said that conditions for skiing were not ideal. I guess the snow was too crusty for his liking. Avalanche danger did not seem a problem on the standard route. Finally, the regular river crossing is not crossable. Instead, just go farther left at the and there will be a slab of snow that you can walk on
|2015-06-03||Route: West Slopes
Info: Got to the parking lot at about 0730 and started hiking. I didn‘t use any flotation through the whole hike (I did have snowshoes in case). The snow stayed hard packed until about 1100. Much past that, flotation is definitely advisable. Also, the skiing would have been incredible. It took bout two and a half hours up, a half hour at the top, and an hour and a half down. All said and done, 6.3 miles and about 2400‘ elevation gain in . As a note since there were young kids on the trail, Bierstadt is an easy peak to climb but snow changes everything. If hiking with younger kids, wait until July or August when you won‘t have to deal with the snow. BE ADVISED: Guanella pass is not paved from 285 for ten miles. Two miles from the summit (on the 285 side) the road is paved and stays paved all the way to Georgetown. Also, check to make sure that the road will be open on the way out. I came off the summit (down the 285 side) at about 1230 and was told that the road would be closed at 1300.
|2015-05-30||Route: West Slopes
Info: As noted last week, the area between the trailhead and the snowfield is treacherous without flotation. We started early in the morning and paved the snowshoe trail running up the west slope. We used snowshoes from the parking lot up to the first snowfield because of the thin crust, and anyone without flotation should be prepared to posthole most of the way up. The snowfield is a bit more compacted, and by the time we left there had been ~30 people on the trail. I‘d recommend traction going up as the surface layer is a bit loose, especially once the sun hits it. There are some small cornices the last 50‘ to the peak which took weight early in the morning, but are likely getting looser as things warm up. On the way back the midday sun was turning the lower trail into slush. A few more warm clear days and the lower trail will be mud. Skiing conditions are still excellent on the west face. I highly recommend hitting this one right at sunrise to avoid wet snow and frustrating postholing. Don‘t even bother with the Sawtooth to Evans unless you‘re a serious climber, as the route appears buried and unstable from Bierstadt.
|2015-05-24||Route: West Slopes
Info: Road is plowed from both sides all the way to Guanella Pass. We drove up from Grant, and on the weekend the construction crews are not working thus we had no issues on the drive in. Parked in the standard summer lot, put on skis and started skinning. The willows are almost completely covered with snow, except the tip top, but if you don‘t wear flotation you may posthole 2-3ft down on occasion. For now, snowshoes or skis recommended. Slight dusting of new snow over a well consolidated layer, and the upper slopes are completely filled in, most snow I‘ve seen on the peak all year by far. Skinned all the way to the summit, skied from the summit back to the car on nice spring powder. Most others had snowshoes or skis on, the one guy without flotation postholed knee-quad deep all the way up the skin track (stupid), effectively taking out part of the worn in trail. Lots and lots of snow, great for skiing, not so good for hiking on foot though.
|2015-05-18||Route: West Slopes
Info: Went for a stroll up Bierstadt this morning. I got to the winter closure at about 5am. The road was dry on the way up. I made it to the summer trailhead as the light was coming through the clouds. The trail was magnificently sturdy, I didn‘t post hole a single time. I‘m sure the post hole gods will punish me for typing that, but it really was pleasant across the willows. The weather wasn‘t as pleasant, alternating between calm and snow showers. As I started to gain elevation, the weather began to worsen and I considered turning around. I huddled behind some rocks and ate my PB&J for about 5 minute. The wind lightened and the sun tried to push through the clouds. It was pretty neat to see the Sawtooth looming behind the fog. I couldn‘t get any good pictures due to the low light though. The coverage was excellent until the final ridge push to the summit. Despite the snow coming down, the wind was too much to keep it around. The last few hundred feet up was dotted with rocks. I didn‘t want to risk my boards core, I‘ve already had plenty of run ins with sharks this season, so I booted down a bit before strapping in. I hiked up in winter boots and had to switch to snowboard boots so that was interesting to do in the snow. The descent was amazingly fast!! This was my first winter 14er and it was so awesome to be down the mountain in 20 minutes. There were about 2" of fresh snow at the deepest. By the time I got back to Scott Gomer creek, it was really starting to come down. I was losing the trail out, but the crust supported my weight so it wasn‘t much of an issue. I took shortcuts on the way down the road and got back to the car at about 9:15. Summary/Tips: -Great coverage for most of the mountain, excluding near the summit. -The willows supported my 195lbs plus my pack/board which was nice. -It was dumping when I left so there‘s probably more snow up there now.
|2015-05-14||Route: West Slopes
Info: As could probably be imagined with all the snow lately, Bierstadt has remarkably good coverage. Skied it last night after work. No rocks were hit, nor was much effort required to avoid them. Just a pleasant evening ski on a route noted for its dryness. Willows were mostly supportable, with just minor postholing. Suface conditions varied from wind blown crust to nice fresh snow. This will change quickly with wind and snow.
|2015-04-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: Not a detailed report but this photo shows the current snow coverage on Bierstadt and the west slopes area. This was taken from the summit of Geneva Peak (13,266‘) looking east-northeast. Clearly, the recent storms dropped a lot of new snow in the area. I drew the approximate location of Bierstadt‘s standard trail, in red.
|2015-04-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: Conditions are great for a summit ski. Cold recycled powder still to be found up high and in N facing lines into Scott Gomer. 5 hours round trip.
|2015-04-11||Route: West Slopes
Info: Beware the snowshoe tracks! The road from Naylor Lake to Guanella Pass is tracked and consolidated enough we didn’t need snowshoes. It was mostly snow covered with a few blown bare spots. When we did Bierstadt about 2 months ago the trail from the summer parking lot to above the willows was well tracked, consolidated and easy to follow. Unfortunately there are now several snowshoe tracks that blast through the willows with big postholes that completely ignore the summer trail route. The problem is, people are following the obvious snowshoe tracks across the willows on routes that will never completely consolidate because of the willows. This is simulating the pre-boardwalk well established trail days! So your best course is to sharpen your eyes and try to identify the trail – because that is where the continuous line of consolidated snow is. We were able to find the trail on the return the whole way from the top of the willows to Scott Gomer Creek. From Scott Gomer Creek back to the Guanella Pass it was more of a challenge, but we managed to be on the trail about half the way. You will get good Karma if you help reestablish the trail! Used a pole. Had MicroSpikes along but didn’t use them. The snow was frozen in the morning when we followed the snowshoe tracks on bad routes. In the afternoon we avoided postholing by sniffing out the consolidated trail. For much of the way our’s were the only fresh tracks on the actual trail. As MissH said the cloudy skies much of the day helped.