Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Post Date:  02/15/2012
Date Climbed:   02/11/2012
Posted By:  Dancesatmoonrise

 Winter Dayhike: Mt. Evans   

Winter Dayhike: Mt. Evans

Approach: Duck Lake, Guanella Pass Road
Date: 2-11-12
Length: 14 miles RT
Vertical: 3700 feet
Ascent Party: Greg, Andy, Jim

Avalanche risk has been considerable over the last three to four weeks this winter, so there was some concern for approach from the Georgetown side, where one would have to travel below a steep NE-facing slope near treeline. Steep, NE, and treeline have been problematic in the area, so we opted for the Grant side. After some inquiries we learned that the road should be more or less clear to the usual Duck Lake closure. We found about four inches of snow starting at the six to seven mile point, which presented little difficulty. The switchbacks were dry. There were drifts at the corner below Duck Lake, so we turned around and parked the cars on the last good stretch, which was at about the 10.5 mile point, or about a half mile below the usual Duck Lake gated closure.

Starting the day’s drive in the pre-dawn freezing drizzle nearly derailed plans. We chose to wait it out and give it another shot after an hour, knowing we’d be getting a late start. We snowshoeing up the road at 9:30 am.

There was some theoretical concern for remote triggering below steep west-facing slopes on the road, but the snowpack was fortunately discontiguous across the road, alleviating concerns, though we still carried avy gear for the remainder of the day’s trip.

Weather looked somewhat threatening throughout the day. None of us had a GPS, so we were anticipating pushing map and compass skills to the limit in the event of a white out, and were hoping to be back down before dark if weather came in.

At the summer TH, three reasonably avy-safe lines presented. We chose the line to the right side of the Gomer gulley. We were soon to learn that the route Brad’s crew took the day before coincided with our plans. Thanks, Brad! During the ascent, we did have some post-holing in the willows, but there were no tactile or audible clues to instability. We encountered a minimum of snow in the alpine on this route.

With reasonable visibility, the point at about 13,900 could be easily seen to guide the way up the slopes and onto Evan’s summit ridge. Taking the ridge directly would be time consuming and involve a greater degree of technical difficulty. Large cairns are easily visible on the south aspect of this west summit ridge. Most of the route follows along the south side, below the actual ridgecrest. The ridge seems longer than it is.

Curiously, when one reaches the road and the buildings, one is not on the actual summit, which is perhaps another 50 vertical feet above and to the west of the buildings. My only ascent of Evans was a bike race many years ago. It occurred to me that today could actually have been my 14er finisher, if I did not go all the way to the summit back at the time of the bike race. Hmm… a winter finisher after all?

Weather threatened most of the day, and with the late start, things were looking fairly dark on the summit. I was virtually certain we’d be finding our way back in a white-out. Or worse, a black-out. No moon in the sky, either. No matter, we had a great, level-headed crew and I was sure we’d be fine.

Not unexpectedly, it got dark before we were down to the pass, though we did manage to get off the summit ridge before sundown. Sunset in the clouds gave us some fine views and photos, and to our surprise, the evening then became clear, warm, and calm. We made it back to the cars by about 7:30 pm, for roughly a ten-hour round trip.

Anyone who is interested in this route, the track is fairly solid at this time, though you will likely want snowshoes for the willows. Snowshoes can be stashed upon leaving the willows in the upper Gomer drainage area.



  • Comments or Questions

The hits keep coming and coming...     02/16/2012 12:45
Another great photo journey, Jim.


Sawtooth     02/16/2012 13:29
I like the pics of Sawtooth. Kind of makes me wonder how I ”manned up” for that as part of my second and third 14ers. It looks particularly menacing in B&W!


Like     02/16/2012 13:53
I like the last shot.


Nice Work     02/16/2012 14:33
Love the third to last shot, makes the descent off of Bierstadt look pretty steep. Congrats gentlemen!


Awesome and thank you     02/16/2012 15:09
for the updates. Great pictures once again.


great work boys     02/16/2012 15:19
Another solid winter ascent, Jim. Shots of the Sawtooth look great.

I Man

Great Job     06/20/2012 13:38
Excellent pictures, my friend. Sorry I had to bail last minute, but it looks like we both quite enjoyed our Saturdays


Sweet     02/16/2012 16:37
I wasn't there, but as usual Jim you make it feel like I was. Congrats on another winter summit. I swear, we'll link up at some point this winter...eventually...


You have such an eye for the lense     02/16/2012 16:46
A beautiful photo journey. Well done.


....     02/16/2012 17:09
Well done doc.


Kuddos     09/24/2012 15:44
Thanks Jim for bringing your camera and taking the time to upload a trip report for our little hiking party.


Bierstadt     02/16/2012 18:22
Love the Photos of Bierstadt. It looks a whole different from Evans & the East than it does from the TH or on the way up it.


Congrats     02/17/2012 00:15
Nice pics Jim of the NE face of Bierstadt and sawtooth. A little more snow and that line of B will be skiable in spring.


Magical snow     02/17/2012 04:40
Its not false to say these TRs and photos have motivated some of us to try this winter stuff! Congrats on the finisher


Photo 14     02/17/2012 13:59
Very nice. Can you tell me, in your 14th photo, what is the peak on the distant horizon? I tried to figure it out by considering the frozen lakes in the foreground, etc., but I'm at a loss for which direction this photo looks out to.


Lone Star     02/17/2012 15:11
The photo loooks SSE. The lake is Abyss Lake, that is the East ridge of Bierstadt above it on the right, and on the distant horizon it is none other than good ol' Pikes Peak .


Nice photos     04/19/2012 22:15
Great us of B&W. Inspiring!

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