So after a few weeks of watching the nasty weather, a couple friends and I picked a date to hike Mt. Bierstadt. There were a couple days of good weather after a week or so of rain and snow and Thursday, Sept. 22nd seemed to be perfect.
We parked at the guanella pass parking lot and started the hike up the west slopes at 6:00am. The temperature was 33 degrees with a bit of a breeze. After getting our gear ready we started the hike. My friend Nikko brought her dog Suti with her, and she wrapped the leash around her waist and let her dog take off up the trail. Suti pulled Nikko the way a sled dog would in the Iditarod, which kept our pace quick enough to stay warm.
Soon we could see the sky getting lighter as the sun was rising in the east.
The sun is rising somewhere But most of our hike was in the shadow of Mt. Bierstadt, which definitely kept things chilly. By the time we got out of the willows and started gaining elevation it got even windier.
Me and Suti Once we got somewhere between 12,500 and 13,000 feet we got into the snow, and the wind had picked up considerably. Must've been around 15-20mph which made things a bit tougher. The temperature had also dropped, my camelbak tube was 90% ice and sucking water through it was a bit difficult. After about 15 minutes of these conditions I had to pull out my soft shell and put on my balaclava. Soon after that I could feel my face again.
Suti sees a pika
Hiking up in the snow wasn't all that bad. It was solid snow and you could walk on top of it. It had plenty of grip so slipping wasn't a huge hazard. The trail seemed to disappear a bit, but finding your own way wasn't too hard, Suti decided that chasing pikas was the best route. By this time we could see the sun trying to peak its head over the ridge, and we were trying to get there quickly. We finally got to the sunshine around 13,000' and it felt great. The rest of the hike to the summit, although a bit slower, was definitely warmer and by this time the wind had calmed down.
Sun on the ridge!We summited at around 9:40am and enjoyed warmer temps and almost no wind. Which made hanging out at the summit much more comfortable. After about 20 minutes, a couple photo ops, some snacks, and getting some good looks at the sawtooth for future hikes we decided to head down.
After Suti almost chased a pika off a cliff, Nikko decided it was best to keep her leashed up. We made our way down the mountain but by this time the sun had warmed up the mountain a bit too much. This made the snow and ice much more slippery. So we mostly descended from one dry rock to the next. Would definitely have helped if we had microspikes, although Suti never had a problem with it. By the time we made it down to the willows it was much warmer and everyone had shed all of their winter wear. We arrived back at the car at noon and enjoyed the rest of a beautiful and sunny day. Nikko took a nap in the parking lot while Suti curled up in the back seat of the car.