Day two of our Peakbagging weekend saw Bierstadt and Evans via the Sawtooth. I know this TR is also a week late but I'm hoping it'll help those who want to try the traverse in the near future. Wait, what's the deal with the Guanella Pass road and construction, when is it open?
We left the trailhead at 4:15am, and ran into Noelle who joined us for the entire day. It was her first class 3 and she did awesome!
The Bierstadt trail is easy to follow and features very good footing. A little sore from our big Saturday, we reached the summit at 6:15am. It was another beautiful morning in the Front Range.
Reaching the Bierstadt summit
Tyler and Noelle on a beautiful morning
I've done class 5 before, but the Sawtooth looked a little intimidating from the summit. However, once we started down it unfolded into a fairly straightforward traverse that we didn't think was all that challenging. Very fun though!
First view of the Sawtooth from Bierstadt
Front Range waking up
Scrambling down good rock from the Bierstadt summit
The descent from Bierstadt was simple, and there were cairns the entire way. Some good talus hopping and two small snowfields to cross that are probably melted by now. While there is big exposure on the left side of the ridge, you are never forced to get very close to it as you meander through the rock.
Nearing the lower portion of the ridge
Tyler loving the fun scrambling on good rock!
It is fun to lean over the edge as long as you don't get too close!
There is exposure to the left but you are never forced to get too close to the drop
Looking back up to Bierstadt
The big gendarme is pretty straighforward as well, and there are two ways around it as depicted in the route description on this site. We stayed left and never climbed near the top of it. Eventually you come around to the other side and the ledge traverse stares you in the face. It looks like a loose nightmare but actually isn't bad once you get to it.
Approaching the ledge traverse
I can see how the ledge would give some people shivers if you are uneasy about exposure, but it was a very fun climb. The broader, looser section near the end seems to have a few different routes, and this picture makes it look worse than it actually is.
Climbing up the ledge.
How does this happen?
An interesting situation...
We rounded the corner coming off of the ledge traverse and the broad summit plateau of Evans lay before us. Initially there is no trail, but the ground it tame and we made quick time along the ridge, eventually picking up the trail as we headed for Evans.
Some of the local residents.
Cruising up the plateau below Evans.
Eventually you reach a trail junction where the route drops right around the ridge. It doesn't loose much elevation, and there is a good trail from here around to the true summit of Evans.
After traversing below the ridgeline, we rounded a corner and knew the summit was close:
Eventually you come around a corner and see this.
It was this kind of weekend.
7 peaks in 29 hours!
Looking back at Bierstadt from Evans
There has been lots of activity on the forum regarding the descent from Evans back to Guanella Pass, and it is pretty much as described on this site. We descended the plateau toward the natural gully, where there was a good yet somewhat loose trail the whole way down. When the gully finally ends, the trail contours left and weaves through the hot, wet, buggy willows until it joins the main Bierstadt trail. It was very wet and muddy, but relatively easy to follow. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures during this section.
At the bottom of the gully
This basin is beautiful
Hiking out through the willows.
Once we hit the Bierstadt trail, Dales Pale Ale floated in our minds and we scurried up to the car.
Car in sight!
Required after a huge weekend.
Contemplating what had just happened.
This was a really fun day on a solid, exciting traverse. The weekend as a whole was also spectacular. I think the stats were 7 14ers in 29 hours, 25 miles hiked and just over 11,000' vertical gained. As long as you have good weather it makes for a great outing close to Denver.
If anyone has any questions about these peaks or routes, feel free to PM me.
Thanks for reading, and hope to see you in the hills!