Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Post Date:  05/20/2012
Date Climbed:   05/20/2012
Posted By:  zephyr_pelicante

 Bierstadt - West Ridge   

Some background:

I'm a 20yr-old CO native. This is my 4th 14er after Handies, Sunshine, and Redcloud. This is my first report on this website and my first solo hike. I think this is a pretty sweet website, I read a lot of reports so I figured I'd do one of my own.

To prepare for this I generally exercise several times a week doing weightlifting and cardio. I did this hike without any traction devices or poles and was completely fine. if it weren't for the snow about 2/3 the way up or the mud in the valley I'd say running shoes with good tread would be okay. As with any high-altitude hike, I dressed in layers and brought a jacket, hat, gloves, and plenty of water and protein bars. The weather was pretty good so I quickly stashed a the jacket and gloves in my bag.

I left Golden CO around 6:10 and got to the trailhead by 7:20. Guanella pass was open, paved, and I didn't see a single car until I got to the trailhead where there were ~15 vehicles.


The trail descends into the valley along some bridges before the steepness increases.

There is a creek that is pretty easy to cross

Class 1 hiking until the snow kicks in. After that there two different trails, one that went straight up the west side (steeper) and one that followed the conventional route. I took the west side going up then the southwest side going down.
Path splits temporarily

With the snow and the route I chose, there were a couple sections where it was rather steep that I would maybe have felt more comfortable on had I brought poles or micro-spikes, but not so bad as to warrant carrying them around the rest of the trip.
One of the steeper sections

Once I hiked up the steep section on the west side there was a ridge right below the summit where you could see pretty far south west and east. Then you turn and go north to get to the summit.
Looking north at summit trail while on ridge.

It gets rocky from here on up, not too bad but you might have to step over a rock or two. Then you get to the summit and can see the Evans to the east, and the "sawtooth" to the north, Grey's and Torreys to the west, and Lincoln and Quandary to the south.
Looking west, can see Grey's and Torreys

Mount Evans

Looking south. If you're good you can pick out a couple other 14ers (Quandary and Lincoln I believe)


I got up in 2:10 and down in 1:20 with about 20mins on top and 20 mins exploring a bit of the south ridge. I want to attempt sawtooth a little later with someone more experienced. It was a great day with mostly clear skies and a couple of clouds later on. On decent I was able to get creative with a little sledding and the snow was soft enough I was able to jog in my hiking boots without hurting my back. It got pretty muddy near the trailhead, but you can pick a less muddy route and there is a snowbank near the cars where you can clean off your boots. I brought a trash bag in preparation for this. Great warm-up hike for what I hope will be a great season of low-medium class peaks for me.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

good work     05/20/2012 22:42
Thanks for the TR. I'll be attempting the Bierstadt-Sawtooth-Evans combo on the 25th of May.


Nice 1st report!     05/21/2012 02:06
... and congrats on the summit!


Nice     05/21/2012 15:12
Looking forward to hiking this in late July.


Sawtooth/Evans Gully     05/22/2012 02:29
The other recent TR for Mt. Evans from Guanella pass mentioned that there might be more snow up the Evans gully (north of the Sawtooth, visible from Bierstadt's west ridge). Did you get a look at it? Is it hikable without an ice axe?


Re: Sawtooth/Evans Gully     05/22/2012 02:51
Do you mean this one?

If so I looked at it as a possible decent route in the event that I were to attempt the sawtooth. It had a decent amount of snow on it still, but I certainly wasn't close enough nor do I have the expertise to know if you'd need an ice axe or not, sorry. I didn't see anyone going that way nor did I see anyone on the sawtooth.

Take a look at this (although you may have seen it already):

Good luck!


Camping     05/25/2012 03:57
Thanks for the trip report! I was wanting to do Bierstadt this weekend. I'd like to camp out near the trailhead if at all possible. I was looking up the campsites near the trailhead and nothing seemed to be open yet. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I could possibly pitch a tent so I didn't have to get up so early and drive there? I've got a new tent and sleeping bag that I'm itching to try out.

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