Peak(s):  "West Evans" - 14,256 feet
Spalding, Mt  -  13,842 feet
Post Date:  05/11/2009
Date Climbed:   05/09/2009
Posted By:  DHatfield

 Fantastic day in the mountains on "West Evans" and Spalding   

Mount Spalding (13,842') and "West Evans" (14,256')
Partner(s): Susan Paul and Espen Jansen
Trailhead: Winter Closure for Guanella Pass
Distance:Approx. 10.50 miles
Elevation Gain: Approx. 3,900'

The weather forecast looked pretty good for this time of the year: mostly cloudy, high of 38 degrees, and 20-30 mph winds with 50 mph gusts, so Susan and I decided to continue our quest to summit the 22 unranked Colorado 14ers, or points above 14,000' that don't really qualify as ranked peaks due to the limited drop in elevation between them and their more famous big brothers. These little adventures were giving us a lot of great training opportunities at high altitude, on steep snow – and we didn't have to do a lot of "repeaking." It was the perfect training plan for our impending higher altitude outings. Our friend Espen joined us on this hike to help break trail - got to love that!

Guanella Pass has a fair amount of construction going on, and we were surprised to see two sets of lights in use, to manage traffic along the single lane sections of road, on the way up to the winter closure at the Naylor Lake turnoff.

Gosh I hate all the traffic.

There were several vehicles in the parking lot and it was great to see others taking advantage of the great weather!

We hiked up the well-packed road with our snowshoes in tow for the much anticipated willow-fest getting through Scott Gomer Creek. Along the road we had occasional views of the Sawtooth, which looked incredible with snow on it. We proceeded up the road for three switchbacks, then departed at treeline to head across the willows. At first we were able to use a nice ski track, but that only slightly postponed the inevitable, and we were soon putting on the snowshoes.

Me, Sawtooth, and Espen.

A couple of guys had started up before us, so we followed their path through most of the willows, making our effort a little less exhausting (though we still post-holed a lot).

You gonna run right up that couloir, Susan?

The views of the Sawtooth were awesome from this vantage point, as well as most of the way up Spalding.

Looking down the east ridge of Spalding with Square Top Mountain (13,794' – just left of center), Argentine Peak (13,738'), Mount Wilcox (13,408' – just right of Argentine), Grays Peak (14,270') and Torreys Peak (14,267') on far right.

The Sawtooth, me, and Mount Bierstadt.

Approaching Mount Spalding.

Not the summit. Susan just likes to be on top of everything!

At Scott Gomer Creek we headed north fighting through the nasty willows and eventually gained the east ridge of Mount Spalding and followed that all the way to the summit.

The views from Mount Spalding were incredible, especially toward the dramatic north face of Mount Evans. We also had a perfect view of "West Evans," our ultimate goal for the day. Due to the wind and time we only took a few photos and a quick snack break before moving on to the next summit.

Looking southeast at Mount Evans (14,258') and "West Evans" (14,256') – which is the bump in the middle. There's a distinct notch to the right of our summit and a false summit just to the right of that.

From Mount Spalding we headed toward the Evans/Spalding saddle and reconnected with the summer trail to Mount Evans; here we spotted the two hikers that had so graciously broken trail for us earlier that day – thanks to whomever you are!

Looking back at Mount Spalding.

Hiking on the trail was great at first, but as we started our traverse below the ridge our progress got a little slower due to snow, rocks, holes, and some steep side-hilling, and with all our focus on the terrain I was afraid we might miss the turnoff for "West Evans."

Got a little steep and rocky along the traverse.

Going up.

We knew our summit was a bump beyond the big notch, so I headed up to the ridge a couple of times to get my bearings and make sure we were still on track. We did bypass it, but only by a little bit, so we corrected ourselves, looped back and headed right on up to the summit.

"West Evans".

It's hard to believe that "West Evans" is so close to the trail – within 100 feet or so – however from the trail you can't even see it.

Approaching the summit with Mount Evans to the east.

Looking west at Mount Bierstadt (14,060' – left) and The Sawtooth.

Looking northwest at Grays Peak and Torreys Peak (center), Mount Parnassus (13,574' – just above and right of rock outcrop in foreground), and Bard Peak (13,641' – right of Parnassus).

Espen Say Relax. Looking northwest at Mount Spalding (13,842' – center) and Gray Wolf Mountain (13,602' – just behind and right of Spalding).

Looking northeast Rogers Peak (13,391') and Mount Warren (13,307') in center.

And "West Evans" makes 10.

Peace (of cake).

I think I need to sharpen my axe.

We nourished up enjoying our successful day before starting the long slog down.

Susan, cairn marking the point at which you should go up, and Rosalie Peak (13,575').

Down and out.

Mount Bierstadt and the Sawtooth.

We pretty much went down the same way we came up, other than skirting Mount Spalding since none of us really wanted to reclimb it.

At this point we were actually looking forward to the willows. Huh?

The willows down in Scott Gomer to the road were ridiculous as the warm temperature had softened things up so much that the snowshoes were practically worthless. That big soupy mess made for a tremendous return effort, so we rotated leads back to the road, and tried not to drown while wading patiently through the willow-wallow. All in all it was a fantastic day!!!

Our route.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Get out enough?!?!     02/05/2011 00:22
Man ya'll get out a lot! And I thought you‘d avoid the irritating willows in the winter/spring.


Thanks for the photos!!     05/12/2009 01:52
Based on your photo #14, looks like there‘s enough snow for a ski from the summit of Bierstadt down to Abyss Lake. Might be time for a Front Range ski.


Training?     05/12/2009 02:01
You two sure came up with a cool training program so far.
I‘ll be real curious to find out what you came up with for the next couple weeks!


Thanks for the comments and quickly too     05/12/2009 02:29
Baumgara - Yea we get out every chance we can get. The willows were much better then I thought and those willows are what had me the most concerned about doing this trip this time of the year.

Bill - Plenty snow and skiing it sounds like a fun way to do the peak. Definitely quicker.

Cheeseburglar - We think so too!! We still have few good trips up our sleeves yet for the coming weeks to stay on task and still keep altitude and not repeat peaks. Should be a great couple weeks!!


The willows are the crux...     05/12/2009 03:21
Every time I‘m up there I plan to hit West Evans and/or Gray Wolf but never do. The Evans massif can be a nice place to visit provided one hits it before the cologne and cotton candy crowds show up. Thanks for sharing.


Full Frontal     05/12/2009 03:46
What a truly pleasant day - the willows, temps and wind were all much tamer than I had anticipated. Or maybe I was high...

Kevin Baker

glutton for punishment     05/12/2009 04:55
You sure are a glutton for punishment, Doug. Remember the hell we went through to summit Spaulding the first time? Sounds like your repeat visit wallowing through Scott Gomer drainage was a bit more pleasant.


Oh yea     11/30/2010 17:28
it's all coming to me Kevin That first time was far more brutal and wasn't sure I was going to make it out of there that night. It was indeed much better this time.


nice     05/12/2009 16:43
I was gonna head up there, ideally before the road opens from Echo Lake, but most likely wait till it opens to summit around the projected date of May 22. Were you able to get a look at any of the routes down the North Face for a ski? Also, the sunrise couloir on Spaulding just west of the lake? Thanks.

I‘ve always wondered what a secluded Evans massif feels like.


Lordhelmet     05/12/2009 18:00
I really didn‘t looking down any of the north face routes unfortunately. I will add though the all the other couliors that we around that I could see had good amount of snow and with those routes being north faces I would imagine its good. As to Spalding, I‘m not sure off the top of my head where Sunrise Couloir is. Picture #16 doesn‘t help you any? It looks pretty continuous.


DHatfield     05/13/2009 00:15
Thanks. I was up at 3 Sisters Park in Evergreen today and had a decent, long distance look at Sunrise (the obvious couloir looking west from summit lake, due south from Spaulding, along the ridge towards Evans, usually heavily corniced). It looked decent. You guys probably skirted right by it without even knowing I imagine, since its corniced. Good to know regarding north facing gullies. Have a good one.


Your welcome     05/13/2009 13:25
lordhelment and you have a good one too!!


Broke trail?     05/14/2009 05:18
I was wondering who else was crazy enough to head for Evans saturday. We (eagle06 and I) went over the sawtooth and then had a true willow experience to get back to the road. I wish I would have found your tracks on the way out (maybe you found ours?). Great day!


Makin‘ Tracks     05/14/2009 13:36
I think we used some old ones on the way in, and you followed our incoming tracks on the way out, then we followed yours. That mess needed a team effort!

We did see your tracks from Bierstadt, high up on the ridge. I remember Doug saying something like, ”Holy crap - somebody did the Sawtooth!” Impressive :-)

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