Since my last trip report on Yale, we climbed Huron June 9 and La Plata June 15. Neither were too worthy of a trip report, although I did summit Huron with a full jar of pickles in hopes of receiving a "pickle sponsorship." I'm still waiting to hear back from Vlasic... Anyways, I figured my first class 3 (and first combo) would be appropriate to pick back up with.
We left Denver at 3:45 am, a bit late due to me taking forever and forgetting my sunglasses, which I was scolded incessantly for. For no reason. Jerk. Anyway, it's funny, when camping I can wake up and be dressed, tent packed up, and eating a breakfast burrito in 15 minutes, but when I have to get out of bed, it's like pulling teeth. Nevertheless, we made it to our trailhead just after mile marker 11 on Mt Evans Road and pulled off. It was about 4:45 am when I realized that I had forgotten my orthotics for my boots... which didn't even have the original soles in them. Due to my already forgetful morning, I said nothing because I knew I'd hear whining about it all day. I just doubled up my socks and toughed it out. It can't be THAT bad, right?? We began our descent down into the valley (STRAIGHT down), crossed the field, and then went up (STRAIGHT up) to begin the east ridge approach to Mt Bierstadt. That whole straight up part can kiss my Marmot-pantsed backside, that's for sure. I'm not sure if it was the 6 miles I ran the day before that gave me jello legs or the fact I was walking on what felt like paper mache, but I was a wildfire of fury climbing that crap. Despite my incredibly controlled silent rage, we made it to the top, and everything in the universe somehow centered itself again.
Our descent began near that lowest dip across the valley (this was taken from the east ridge)
Boy that sun felt nice. Boy I wish I didn't forget my sunglasses twice.
It was at this moment the sunshine poured over the rocks like trickling happiness. It felt so good after all the miserable wind that laughed in our faces in the valley. It was at this magic moment (you must sing those words) that I realized I forgot something else. Again. My sunglasses that I had already turned around for earlier were now sitting idly in the car. The scene from "Touching the Void" where the lost climber screams, "STUPID!!!!!!" came to mind. *sigh* Sole-less and with sunburnt eyeballs, we carried on our merry way.
Beastmode in full swing
Oh guide me, fearless leader!
Waiting while he let Mt Bierstadt know what he thinks of it...
The east ridge was a blast and we were making great time. I decided there was nothing left to do but laugh at myself for my mistakes and enjoy the views. We were in high spirits and the weather was great, which was our biggest concern. If I were to be completely honest, the east ridge was more fun than challenging. As long as you go at a comfortable pace and are SAFE, it really feels more like an obstacle course than a class 3 climb.
With a smile from ear to ear I scrambled to the summit of Mt Bierstadt to join the masses. It took all of four minutes up there to snap some pictures before we began our descent towards the Sawtooth. Something about large groups of people on mountains makes us suddenly feel like we have altitude sickness. It's the weirdest thing.
'Nother notch on the ol' belt!
And then.... THE SAWTOOTH RIDGE.
Dun dun dunnnn
So remember my cocky statement about how Bierstadt's east ridge is "fun" and "not that challenging?" The Sawtooth is nothing like that. Well, we did have a lot of fun, but it's that kind of fun where you're like, "Man, if I die at least it's doing something awesome" kind of fun. Yeah, it was hard as hell, to put it lightly and politely. We don't have as many pictures actually ON the Sawtooth, seeing as we were making certain to not fall off a rock and splat like a water balloon, but we did it. And that's kind of cool I guess. 8)
That final pitch is avoidable, but we chose to add a little class 4 into our lives ;)
Veni, vidi, vici!
Bierstadt and the Sawtooth
As we climbed up, down, up, down all the way across, the clouds loomed ominously over our heads. We thought for sure we'd have to hijack some marmot's humble abode and hunker down for a bit, but the weather held up and was gorgeous for us. I had been in Florida for a wedding all last week, so I got a bit of a headache halfway through the ridge, but drinking more water kept it tolerable until we could stop. By the time we finished the Sawtooth and stopped for our first real break, it was 10:30 am. Pretty good timing, I was told, since I'm still new to this climbing stuff. We had a snack and sat down for about 5 minutes, then continued on towards Mt Evans. It was SO nice to walk on grass again. We met up with a nice couple from Minneapolis and chatted with them off and on until we decided to throw it into high gear again and FINISH.
14er #5 in a month!
It's amazing we got a shot without people in the background. I'm all for sharing the views, but this "tourist attraction summit" brought back those intense spontaneous waves of AMS. We literally got bumped into/bumped off the trail because no one was aware there is such thing as hiker etiquette. There were many LOLs to be had as we snapped our picture next to the herds, and then we quickly headed to the road. Alas! I saw my first mountain goats! Well, the first ones we saw we decided had to be the product of some kind of inbred deer-goat-dog. They were hard to classify as one animal... so we went with that.
The indigenous deer-goat-dog
But then, alas! The white mountain goats arrived! And with them, THE BABIES!!!! I squealed with joy uncontrollably when I heard their little bleating. They looked like baby polar bears.
However, during the face-off between their older siblings, I was denied.
I'm gonna steal your baby...
No? Welp, see ya later!
All in all, a FANTASTIC day! Be watching for a detailed trip report next week from me, as we are heading to Durango Saturday-Wednesday to conquer the Chicago Basin (Windom, Sunlight, Eolus, N Eolus, and hopefully my first 13er, Jupiter!). Thanks for reading, and keep on climbin'!
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