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Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Post Date:  06/04/2011
Modified:  12/23/2013
Date Climbed:   06/04/2011
Posted By:  mountainmicah83

 Bierstadt Smokey Sky and Willows Nightmare   

Bierstadt Smokey Sky and Willows Nightmare

Attempt #1- January 9, 2011- Bailed at 13,300ish’ due to Blizzard Conditions
Ben Howland

Willows Nightmare-

I had been saving Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans for winter attempts in my 14er quest and doing harder ones in the summer. Another of my goals is to do the Sawtooth in calendar winter as well so January presented a first shot at it. With the Georgetown side of Guanella pass being closed down low to a rock slide at the time, we drove in Ben’s 4-runner up from the grant side on Saturday January 8 and made it to about half a mile below duck lake after digging ourselves out a couple of times down lower. Matt, on his new AT setup was acquainting himself and trying to learn a new skill quite different from snowboarding.


The snow was windblown and packed where some steps with the skis and skins would sometimes stay on top and sometimes sink up to a couple of feet. It was quite labor intensive and quite annoying as we made our way up to where we would later camp.


As we made our way a few miles up the road to the summer trailhead at the top of the pass, it began to snow as a storm came in appearing much worse than predicted on NOAA. Our original goal was to actually camp on the summit of Bierstadt as Matt and I did on Torrey’s last winter but weather and energy levels caused us to begrudgingly pitch the tent somewhere down in the willows not too far from the summer start. The snow in the willows was completely unconsolidated and even with skis, every step was cutting trail a couple of feet down and the fierce wind was cutting right into us. It didn’t help either that Matt had blowout diarrhea and really shouldn’t have went on that trip in the first place. We eventually packed down a spot as flat as we could and parked it for the night. Yes we squeeze 3 of us in that small tent. It keeps is extra warm thataway.


After waking and surviving the night of matt flying out of the tent to blow his guts, we melted snow for our water, cooked oatmeal (while still lying in the bags to keep toasty) and we were out and about readying for the day. While Bierstadt is still a 14er and still commands its own respect, we felt comfortable pushing for a summit in the weather.

for the remainder of the report see my blog HERE

Until next time…

See you at the top!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Congrats!     2011-06-05 22:41:18
Awesome report. Tried Evans today and postholed into a stream just before the gully. The final river before the parking lot was a huge obstacle for me too. Probably would have slipped backward after the jump if not for my trekking poles. Gonna try Bierstadt this weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to find a spot to traverse the river.


Great Report     2011-06-06 06:23:18
I really enjoyed reading both of your TRs from Bierstadt. I have been looking for updates and this one provides some great pics and info regarding conditions - I hadn't realized the AZ smoke was so far north. Thanks!


Sawtooth     2011-06-06 09:37:36
Perhaps when you return for the Sawtooth, you can try the Tour D' Abyss route from the Mt. Evans Highway. I did this last summer and really enjoyed it.


Willow wallowing     2011-06-06 10:54:13
The key to crossing the willows later in the day was to follow others and let them do the postholing first.


Love it.     2011-06-06 13:26:22
Image 7 says it all.

Nice job, Micah.


sawtooth     2011-06-07 16:28:23
Nice jod on getting the summit but do you think that the sawtooth is do able?


Thanks for the comments all     2011-06-08 08:37:07
I 100% think the sawtooth is doable for me but I don't know your skill level Flyingfish. I was ready to go for it and we dropped down the first 100' or so before my partner decided to bail. I wasn't even worried about my dog but he is a bit abnormal for dog standards.

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