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Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Post Date:  12/13/2011
Date Climbed:   12/12/2011
Posted By:  WDavis

 First Winter 14er   

I had done a good bit of hiking and mountaineering but mostly in the summer months. I had never done anything in the winter. I decided to give Bierstadt a shot and 2 of my friends ended up coming with me.

Guanella Pass was accessible 2WD from Georgetown and we had no issues getting up it. We arrived at the Lake Naylor gate and parked at 7:30am. It took us an hour to snowshoe up the road to the trailhead. One member in our group had come from sea level and the other 2 of us were content with an easy pace.

The weather was mild, not too cold or too windy when we reached the trailhead.

Weather on our approach was cloudy.

Halfway up the first ridge the girls contemplated turning around. I was glad they didn't because it turned out to be a beautiful day and we had a blast on the summit and coming down.

Trying to decide if they should turn around or keep going.

After we made the first ridge everyone was feeling good.

First ridge was easily accessible and the wind was calm.

The cruz of this climb was getting up the second ridge. It seemed like if we had stayed west and just aimed for the top of the second ridge we could have possibly had an easier time getting up. Instead we ended up moving east up to the second ridge and topped out right below the summit and then turned east and went up. Someone had left an ice cave. Someone help me out whats the correct term for these?

Ice wind block.

Our final push to the summit. It was nice to have an ice axe for this although it was doable without one. Yaktrax or microspikes would have been fine.

Final push to the summit.

I summited before the girls did but we all made it. It took us about 4.5 hours.

Amy on the summit.

The wind was only blowing 20mph but that was still enough to blow a tripod over. I anchored it as well as I could in the snow and we got a good group shot.

Group shot. Wind almost blew the tripod over.

The sun came out in the middle of the day for about 4 hours and the scenery was beautiful. This is looking west.

Beautiful weather. Looking to the West.

Looking Southwest.

Looking to the Southwest.

Looking South.

Looking South.

Taking the view in.


We were all in awe of how the weather had cleared up and how beautiful it was. We had some fun glissading on the way down.



We got back to the car at 3:15 hungry but very happy with how the day had turned out. We stopped at Azteca's in Idaho Springs on the way home to get some calories in.


It was a great first winter 14er for me and a lot of fun with the girls. I had rented snowshoes and ice axes not knowing what kind of conditions to expect. The snowshoes were nice going up. Microspikes or yaktrax would have been fine as well. The trail was way more packed than I expected. We ditched the snowshoes above the first ridge because the snow was thinning out. The ice axes were not a necessity but nice to have.

Great day in the mountains. Looking forward to the next one. Possibly Quandry or Sherman hopefully before the new year.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions
emcee smith

Nice report     2011-12-13 12:08:31
Welcome to the site, and great report; everyone likes to see condition shots off season. Folks around here definitely like to kid, so I'll be the first to remind you that you had a great fall hike, but winter doesn't start for another few days.

Just an excuse to get back out there in a few weeks.


image #4     2011-12-13 12:14:02
Maybe someone constructed a wind-block for camping up high.
Congratulations on your hike, fall or winter-like, good effort!
But what was glissading in jeans like? A little extra wet and cold after?!


December     2011-12-13 13:47:07
Might not have been true calendar winter, but a mid-December hike of a 14er is still something to hang your hat on. I doubt conditions will change all that much in the next 10 days, anyway. Nice work! I'm also interested in how glissading in jeans went. My butt is numb just thinking about it.


Jeans Huh?!?!     2011-12-13 15:26:56
Thankfully it wasn’t too cold and you didn’t get too wet glissading that could a been a recipe for disaster wearing Jeans in those kind of conditions.


jeans     2011-12-13 22:08:00
Yeah I just moved to Denver and I failed to bring my snow stuff with me. In August it didnt seem that important. Anyway I skiied at copper in jeans last week and it was not an issue. It was cold and dry enough that the snow didn't melt so I stayed dry. Thanks for the comments.


Dungarees     2011-12-16 08:21:38
Atta boy, but as everyone else mentioned, super dangerous wearing jeans. Even $40 rain pants...anything. Scary...

But nice job on the summit, keep on climbing.


igloo     2011-12-17 18:13:39
'Someone help me out whats the correct term for these? '

igloo? ;)


Congratulations !!     2011-12-27 03:22:13
Bierstadt was my first 14er. IT WAS AMAZING ! Sounded like a great time. Thank you for your trip report.! - John

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