This is my third Tour De Abyss, and if you’ve done this route, you can probably understand why. There isn’t much simple walking, it’s got a couple of downclimbs that can be tedious, but the rest of the day is highly enjoyable. Mostly, it drops you into a charming basin, and you climb up the other side and do a full “U” around it, left to right, gaining, in order, Bierstadt’s south ridge, Bierstadt’s summit, the Sawtooth, Evans’ north ridge, and Evans’ summit. If you ‘re lucky, you can get a ride from Evans’ summit back to your car, making this about the only summit that marks the end of the climb.
A couple friends asked about doing Longs Peak later in the summer, and I suggested this route as a warm up- the technical climbing is similar, the exposure is similar, and it would be a great work out to get ready for Longs. Ashley and Holly both came through like Champs, handling their first class three scrambling with confidence and without incident. This was the first time I went up and over all the teeth on the Sawtooth without dropping down.
The most frightening part of the climb was looking back at the snow apron coming down off Bierstadt. While on it, the snow was soft but secure, and even though we went slow, it wasn’t too jarring. From the Sawtooth, that snow looked extremely steep and dangerous, and we all had a hard time believing we had just traversed it. The climbing on the Sawtooth was energizing, and the ledges are wide enough that the extreme drop off didn’t get into our head, and the beer at Tommyknockers was excellent as always.
Am I the only one who is bothered that people are leaving Which Wich sandwich wrappers on summits under rocks? It’s an amusing promotion, but I wonder how many of the Colorado summits are now graced with wrappers so everyone can get their free sandwiches. It’s also ironic how the people driving to the top of Evans and walking the last 200 feet are also snapping their summit Which Wich pictures for the free sandwich for summiting a 14er. I wonder how long this promotion will last.
Epulet saddle under layer of fog
Bierstadt south ridge from Evans/ Epulet saddle
Holly and Ashley in the coulior
mountain goat in coulior
into the Abyss basin
Abyss Lake, Sawtooth in background
Holly making her way up to the ridge
Ashley getting to ridge with Sawtooth in background
along the south ridge of Bierstadt
Ashley's first summit, Holly's third!
Sawtooth- easier than it looks
making our way down Bierstadt to Sawtooth
coming down off the second tooth
third tooth- crux of the climbing
Ashley on the third tooth
Holly topping out on the third tooth
Ashley in the chimney
nearing the saddle turnoff
along the ledges
Ashley ignoring the extreme drop off below her
beyond the Sawtooth
Holly and Ashley relaxing - "We climbed that!"
Evans summit- James
Evans summit- Holly
Evans summit- Ashley