| Bierstadt > Sawtooth > Evans
Sawtooth via Abyss TH
So I started out the trip on Sunday 23-June at 1700 on the Abyss Lake TH (Scott Gomer Creek Trail). Hiked in about 5 miles to set up camp just below tree line at about 2100 on Bierstadt's SE Spur. A hail storm with lightening was there to greet me with a smile... oh happy days. Woke up at 0330 and started my ascent by 0400. Made Bierstadt summit at 0720. There isn't a whole lot of elevation gain from the TH so you will pay for it when you start to ascend the SE Spur. It kinda sux... it's straight up and you get into a lot of class 2 scrambling once you get to the top of the ridgeline. Shortly after summit, I chatted with a gentleman and his two dogs who reported leaving Guanella Pass TH at 0500. He gave me some of his nuts (trail mix), and then I headed off to the Sawtooth.
This route is really fun. It's not nearly as dangerous or intimidating as the pictures look. The beginning of the descent is a little steep. And there is a little bit of snow when you start to drop in to traverse the Sawtooth. I was on the snow at about 0800, so it was still firm and holding well. I didn't put on my crampons, but I did use my ice axe for stabilization. As long as your careful and you place each step, you'll be fine. *Alternate routes: Climb the rocks above the snow -OR- descend below the snow and contour around and climb back up into the Sawtooth.* It's definitely a Class 3 scramble, but nothing extreme. There are a few spots where you need to be careful and decide if there is a safer avenue to cross certain spots. I kept on wondering, "when the hell do I transition to the west side of this thing?" Just hang in there and eventually you will find your way. Look high / Look low for the cairns. They will guide you through your path. Once you transition to the West side, you will be pleased to find NO SNOW. I found one small patch of snow, but it didn't complicate things or make it any more dangerous. Like I said before, pictures of the West traverse look kinda scary. But once your in it, doing it, it's nothing seriously dangerous. As long as you exercise CAUTION and you place each step carefully, its just a matter of getting through it. Try to keep a mental note of always leaning into the mountain. Now don't get me wrong. A slip, trip, or fall on the Sawtooth could definitely be fatal at the wrong place. the West side of your Travers has a straight drop off that you must take seriously. But it's not like your gonna be second guessing yourself as to weather or not you should take this risk.
So after getting through the Sawtooth, your excited because the hard part is over. All you have to do it Summit Evans, which is the easiest part of this route. I Summited Evans by 12Noon. Try not to resent the tourist who get out of their cars and sprint up to the top of Evans with their flippy floppies. Just in time for lunch, I gobble down a sammich and some Mike 'n Ikes for the LONG hike back to the TH. An elderly gentleman asked me if I wanted a ride back to my car, and I just couldn't bring myself to say yes.
So I start my 7 hour hike back to TH. Which seemed like a whole separate trip in itself. You start by descending Evans to the south. Follow the edge of the cliffs and rest up before you start your last, painful ascent to get over this hill that seems like a monster. It's a necessary evil. Your legs are fried, and you hate that you must go up in order to get back down. Once on top of this boulder hill, you can look south down the valley, way off in the distance where you must get back to the Rosalie Abyss Trail split. Good luck finding the trail through the valley. I stayed on high ground as long as I could, until I had to descend into the valley to make my way back home.
The Abyss Lake Trail is fun & long. 16 miles round trip. Way better than taking the Guanella Pass TH. And also, keep in mind, the Sawtooth only looks intimidating. Once your in it, you'll be surprised how easy it is. Good Luck.
Here's a video link for Youtube:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):