| Bierstadt - Sawtooth - Evans
Dodging huge potholes at 3 AM in a Honda Accord with only a fading Art Bell to keep one company is always fun, but it ended as I pulled into the parking lot at 0400 on the dot, 30 minuets out from Georgetown.
I was expecting to find a fence surrounding the parking lot, and one on the road to mark the start of adventure, but upon failing to see one in the pitch black I meandered around for 30 minuets until I was informed the path to the trail head for Mt Bierstadt starts just to the left of the restrooms.
Getting started at 0445 the air was cool, the sky was dark and the path was clear. I was the first (that I know of) to make the summit at 0745, the path from the trail head was free of snow and obstacles except for the few, avoidable, hard packed small snow areas. The early morning hike also gave great early morning photos:
The summit yielded my first CMC Register find placed there only a few days prior. Looking though the list, 225 people had signed in just 2 days, over 125 on the 23ed and the rest on the 24th.
The views from the summit were great, but what occupied most of my attention was the route to come.
This was only my 3ed peak, 4th summit, and first class three. I was eager to get started.
This was also my first experience dealing with exposure, and it went rather well. Staying to the right I slowly and carefully made my way down the ridge, always careful of where I placed my feet. The climb was a bit more difficult then I anticipated, and tons more fun! Before I knew it I was already quite a ways down.
Opting to take the Class 3 climb rather then descend was the most challenging part of the route, and also the most fun filled. Looking back at what I had just climbed put a smile on my face.
Now only the Sawtooth lay ahead. The ridge certainly looked intimidating in pictures, and still did in person. Most of the Sawtooth was completely devoid of snow, save for a small part to the right after you cross the narrow portion of the path.
Moving towards the upper area of the ridge I tried to stick mostly to the large steady rocks, but ended up having to quickly cross some patches of dirt, trying not to think of how far I might fall if I slipped. Reaching the last of the gravel area I tested a rock but apparently pulled a bit to hard as it came loose, as did the one behind it. That bastard rock went straight for the finger, and it wanted blood!
Ignoring the slight pain I continued onward towards the top of the Sawtooth and then set my sights on Evans. I must have missed the first cairns signaling the start of the trail again, because I was already half a mile across the rock scramble, and 500‘ below the first one when I saw it. After scrambling my way up and finding the path things became easier.
There were some bits of snow that had to be crossed in this area, some were hard packed and others I post holed though, but none were very large or difficult to maneuver.
I made the Evans Summit at 1130, and was surprised at the number of cars on the top for a Monday.
After a nice summit break I headed back towards the trail at 1200, across the rocks and with the Sawtooth in view headed to the gully. This is when things got worse.
I had no feelings of sickness at all throughout the trip, but when I started across towards the gully they began to start. I had been drinking, eating, and breaking regularly so I had no idea what the problem was. I began to have a "sick" feeling, worn out much quicker and dizzy when I stood up after a break. Longer breaks and more food seemed to cure it, but only for a short while. After some slow walking I arrived at the gully.
Going down took forever. I was moving slow, feeling bad, and it was quite long and steep. When after quite some time I finally got the bottom was feeling worse then ever. Crossing the steams I pressed on for a few hundred feet and took a break.
Then I knew it was coming, I had know for an hour but didn‘t want to admit it to myself. Not now! Not here! Its been so long, almost as long as Seinfeld! Then it happened, I spewed, then again, again and again. When finally everything was out I felt a little bit better, and happy to know I could have auditioned well for the exorcist. Naturally if this was not bad enough I was out of water. 100oz carelessly gone, and nothing to wash this nasty taste out of my mouth.
Cursing my present situation I pressed onward, ignorant to the fact that things were not going to get much better. Let me give a preemptive *Virtual Shake of the Fist* to the willows. Crossing them had been fine coming in, there was a nice trail and bridges to follow and all. But trying to go via the back way was a huge pain. Little trail, high brush, deep mud, water and along ways to go still feeling like crap made for one bad hour. When I finally emerged, Gore-Tex (winner) boots covered in dried mud, arms full of scratches, and a throat so dry I was wondering when they were going to declare drought of my mouth, I was somewhat happy once again.
Trudging along the path with awesome bridges for what seemed liked forever I finally made it to the trail head at 1630. Turning around to get a first look at what I had just done I smiled. My favorite portion of the climb was covered in sunlight, the view was simply breathtaking.
Even though the decent was terrible, I still had such a great time overall I was filled with joy. This was only my 4th trip to the top of a mountain, but I knew now, this is what makes me happy, what fulfills me, and ultimately what puts me at peace.
Descending the pass seemed to take forever, but once I arrived at the Georgetown convenient store, quickly downed an aquafina after a few sips of coke (my mothers old cure for the pukes, along with some chicken noodle soup) I was feeling much better physically.
"Wish You Were Here" blasting though the speakers I headed home, another great day, another great climb, another great mountain.
Thank you Bierstadt & Evans!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):