Peak(s):  Sawtooth Mtn - 12,304 feet
Post Date:  12/17/2012
Date Climbed:   12/15/2012
Posted By:  Kevin Baker
Additional Members:   wooderson, Monster5, sstratta, Furthermore, dsunwall, Papillon, SarahT

 The 3 Sarah's Hike on Sawtooth  

Sawtooth Mtn (12304’)
Indian Peaks Wilderness
12.5 miles RT, 3200’ gain
From Beaver Reservoir (9200’)
December 15, 2012

Participants: Derek Wolfe, Ryan Marsters, Dominic and Sarah Meiser, Sarah Strattan, Kevin Pustulka, Sarah Behnke, Dwight Sunwall, & Kevin Baker

I was looking to do something high since I’ll be back at home next weekend for Christmas. The forecast didn’t look to great anywhere, but the Front Range didn’t look too bad. Over the past 4 years, I have come to know and hike with 3 different Sarah’s who enjoy similar mountain adventures as I. What are the odds of that? I thought it would be pretty cool to get them all together for a “Sarah” hike! I started hiking with Sarah M (SarahT) in 2008, Sarah B (wooderson) in 2010, and Sarah S (sstratta) this year. Sarah M and I invited others, and the group ballooned to 9 strong hikers! We settled on 12er Sawtooth in the IPW even though a few people had already done it in summer. Sawtooth is a cool IPW peak with sweeping south face that is visible from many vantage points in Boulder county.

Sawtooth’s east ridge offers a nice scramble that is reasonable with snow as there are just a few 3rd class sections with some exposure here and there. It would make things more interesting than a standard slog in the snow. We all met at the north end of Beaver Reservoir where the 4WD road to Coney Flats starts at 9200’. Temps were actually quite balmy in the mid 20’s. The road had been tracked, but the snow was less than a foot deep early on.

Marching through the pretty forest

We enjoyed the social aspect of a group hike in the trees, knowing that higher up it would likely be tough to talk with some moderate winds in the forecast. The sun flirted with coming out, but it looked like the clouds were here to stay today.

The sun flirting with coming out

We crossed a frozen pond in which the ice wasn't that deep, but it was deep enough that cars had recently crossed!

Crossing a frozen pond

We were able to get by without snowshoes until just before treeline. We were glad we brought them as there was more snow than expected.

Dwight amidst the pretty trees

Sstratta, a skier defecting to the slowshoe ranks today

The trailbreaking wasn’t too tough though, other than some wallowing in the willows after we cutoff the trail to head for the east ridge. The banshees were as advertised, a headwind gusting to 30-35 mph. Everybody was ready for a battle though, and it actually didn’t feel too bad once we got on the ridge proper.

Heading up the east ridge

Sawtooth provided a bit of a wind shadow in spots, so conditions for the scramble were reasonable. The ridge was a lot of fun with the snow as there were a few sections of 3rd class with some ups and downs.

Let the fun begin!

Frost on the rocks

We stayed on the ridge crest except for one little tower that looked to be low 5th class, which we skirted on the left.

A little 3rd class action

Dominic and Sarah M on another bump on the east ridge.

The crux of the hike physically was the last 500 feet as the ridge dumps you on the northeast face, which was tough going wallowing in a couple feet of trap door snow amidst the talus. Derek led the last bit, and it was a lot of effort to follow!

Conga line up the northeast face to the summit

There was enough rock islands sticking out that we felt comfortable with the conditions, although I could see this face loading up pretty good in winter since it is northeast facing. There was some scrambling to be had just below the summit, and I topped out around 12:20.

Last bit of scrambling to the top

The wind was moving pretty good on the summit with a temp of 13 degrees, so we didn’t hang around long. There was some cool rime ice on the rocks to make it finally feel like Christmas.

The 3 Sarah's and me. Tough chicks for sure!

I was hoping to add 12er Red Deer to the north, but a couple of us had time commitments including my ride, so we headed back down the east ridge. Wallowing down the northeast face wasn’t a whole lot of fun as we wiped out a few times with the inconsistencies of going down shallow snow on a talus field, but it was smooth sailing once we got back on the ridge. There were a couple exposed spots where extra care had to be taken.

Heading back down

The wind seemed to pick up a bit on the descent and we were glad to get back to the trees. The road walk back seemed to take forever, but it was nice catching up with folks to pass the time. We got back to the trailhead at around 4:30. Excellent outing with a strong group of partners! And yes, 12ers are cool too, especially in the IPW.

Looking back at the east ridge

Cool couloir below the ridge

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Can't remember the last time i saw snowshoes..
12/18/2012 04:47 a TR. Nice report Kevin. I guess 3 Sarah's are better than one! looks like a fun scramble in the IPW.

Svenski Norski

Great low-Vis Pics-
12/18/2012 13:02
Nice trip!


Nice TR K-to-the-evin!
12/18/2012 13:28
It was a fun day out for sure, even though Mr. Bluebird didn't come through! Nice to finally meet everyone. Team Sarah cubed rules!


Nice work everyone!
12/18/2012 16:23
Looks like a fun group.

I Man

Nice job to all!
12/18/2012 17:09
Looks like a fun day, wish I could have gone.

My ”Slowshoes” look so nice in pic #5


Mr. Bluebird disappoints...
12/18/2012 17:59
Unfortunately, no monetary reimbursement is forthcoming for the weather. Nice report and it was great to meet/hike again with you(s).


What, You didn't go to Coney Island!
12/18/2012 20:36
Nice trip guys, finally got some weather to tease you a little!


My first peak in Colorado
12/18/2012 21:06
I climbed Sawtooth less than a week after moving to Denver from Chicago, waaaaay back in 1981, just after graduating high school. Seeing all of the IPW peaks and far off 14ers got me hooked on mountaineering. Thanks for the report!


12/18/2012 21:31
for letting me tag along. It was a great way to spend the day. It was nice to meet everyone that I haven't climbed with.


All-Star Cast
12/18/2012 22:37
Why does it seem your social gatherings always seem to attract this kind of weather, Mr. Bluebird?


Aha, there you were!
12/18/2012 23:12
We kept wondering where those ”big foot prints” went on Sunday. We were the skiers on the trail, made it to Coney flats and then back and never saw a soul, but we did see the cars and foot prints. Good job guys, it was a cold and windy day up there!

Kevin Baker

Bluebird stats
12/19/2012 12:42
Thanks for the comments, folks. Back in mid-Nov, I did a little research on my 2012 hikes to see exactly which ones could be considered bluebird. Here are the stats I posted on Facebook. I think it's more a matter of picking the right place to hike, and last weekend it was snowing everywhere!

Here are some interesting hiking stats related to my nickname of Mr. Bluebird. I tend to bring good weather when I hike. Maybe it's good luck or the fact that I hike in Colorado! I've been out 61 times this year, and 45 of those hikes could be classified as bluebird (no significant precip, hot weather, or high winds). That's a success rate of 73.8 %. If you only count the outings where it precipitated for more than 15 minutes, it only happened 7 times, good for a 88.5% success rate. Most of those were on the way down! Only from an accountant of course.


re: stats
12/19/2012 16:16
Only 61 outings this year, eh Kevin? What's with the slacking?? Clearly you're just cherry picking the good forecasts.

Very glad the Three Sarahs hike finally came to fruition. We should do it again sometime! It was great getting out with such a fun group and meeting some folks I've been wanting to hike with. Thanks for organizing!


You and Davenport should hang out
12/21/2012 14:52
Then you'll have a 100% bluebird rate!

Looks like a grunt of a day. Thats a special part of the IPW nonetheless.


Cool trip
12/26/2012 15:24
Tough chicks is right! Great TR and great climb

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