Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Sawtooth, The  -  13,780 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Spalding, Mt  -  13,842 feet
Post Date:  07/11/2007
Modified:  08/04/2008
Date Climbed:   07/07/2007
Posted By:  RockParkour

 Noob and the Sawtooth   

Peak: MT Bierstadt (14,060), The Sawtooth (13,780), MT Evans (14,264), MT Spalding (13,842)
Date: Saturday, July 7th 2007, (0545-1230)
Team: RockParkour & Ernie
Trailhead: Guanella Pass
Route: West Slopes, Bierstadt, the Sawtooth, West Ridge, Evans, West Ridge, Spalding, Damn Willows.

This route has been hiked a gazillion times! However, since this was my first class 3 'climb' (scramble), I will try to concentrate this report on a first timers look at the Sawtooth. When I hiked this; there was a hiker missing from the day before, on this same route, and the SAR effort found his body the day after. I don't believe the Sawtooth is that dangerous if you stay on the correct route, and that is where I hope this report can help…

First thing this morning: we saw two moose from the boardwalk trail through the willows, the mother got up first, followed by her calf. They saw all the traffic accumulating at the trailhead and wasted no time fleeing the area.


The trail to the summit of MT Bierstadt was one of two areas today where we crossed through the snow, but it was easy. However, my now 'wet' vibram soles were now slipping on the following boulders. (The other small snow field that we crossed was on the east slope of Bierstadt.)


This was our first look off the summit of MT Bierstadt at the task ahead.



There was a Pika on the descent from MT Bierstadt to the Sawtooth. Be nice to these little guys; they are an endangered species!


The Sawtooth trail stays on the Abyss Lake side of the ridge until reaching this massive rock face. There are plenty of cairns on the way there, and one at the top of this short steep climb. When you reach the top, you will be on the Guanella Pass side of the Sawtooth.


This is after turning the corner to the Guanella Pass side of the ridge. You will be home free beyond this picture.



This picture was looking back at the trail after switching to the Guanella Pass side, and just prior to leaving the Sawtooth.



One more look at the madness we just traversed from the top of Evans' west ridge. After this shot, we descended to connect with the west ridge trail to the MT Evans summit.


MT Evans summit!


After descending MT Spalding, we headed for this trail into the willows towards Guanella Pass.


If we could have done it all over again; we would have stayed above this waterfall to reach the MT Bierstadt West Slopes trail above the tree line. The route we took is in the red. The route I recommend is in the blue. (Damn Willows!)



Overall, the hike beat us up! I wouldn't want it any other way…

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions
emcee smith

Thanks for the info     02/05/2011 00:22
Nice trip report. I appreciate the comments from a first timer, as that will likely be my second class 3. How did you find going across the sawtooth compared to coming down the Kelso Ridge?

I will likely be doing the sawtooth in two weeks.

Thanks again.


Quite the pace     07/12/2007 16:02
6:00 to 12:30, really? Wow, you must have been trucking. Interesting line on the Sawtooth as well; never would have thought to consider that. Thanks for the report.


I agree     07/12/2007 16:41
If I did this route a second time, I would definitely investigate the route you highlighted in blue. The willows are no fun. My legs looked like a cat scratching post when we finished.


Re.     11/30/2010 17:28
emcee smith, comparing apples and oranges! umm.. I would think that Kelso would be more work than the Sawtooth, but less exposure. If you choose the right route you should stay out of trouble. good luck!

krz2fer, we made it up Bierstadt by 0745, I didn't 'time' anything else but it was all downhill from there! I just looked at the route in your report. The major differences that I noticed: the descent from Bierstadt and that dashed line on the Sawtooth in your picture. We were following cairns in those two areas!


nice report     11/30/2010 17:28
I think krz2fer and I took the brute force approach and took a straight line right to the notch, didn't drop down at all...interesting how you stayed higher on the ledges, it looks like its much more narrower than the bottom route.

I was up on grays torreys last weekend and the kelso looks like a lot more exposure than the sawtooth, but thats just an observation, i guess I will find out once I get on it.

nice report though, very detailed

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