| The Tour d'Abyss
I got to the parking lot on the Evans road at 13,300', and started descending a gully at about 6:15am. I believe I took the wrong gully; I didn't go to the low point of the saddle, but rather went straight down from the parking lot. I didn't realize this until I got to the valley floor.
I went down on the left, and I think the correct gulley is to the right.
Hiking across the valley toward the Bierstadt ridge is pleasant, and crossing the stream was no biggie.
Gaining the ridge involves a pretty taxing little climb; there's no trail, so I was making my own switchbacks to cut down on the pace of elevation gain.
On the slope up to the East Ridge, looking at the Sawtooth
Once on the ridge, the first obstacle is right before you, and is fairly easy to traverse.
The first batch of rock to scramble over
The crux of this ridge was the most sketchy part. I had a hard time understanding how to get past it as explained on this site's description. I think you're supposed to descend quite a bit, and then climb up to the left at some point and get to the top. I went left too early, and had to make up my own route around the left side of the rock. It got a little hairy over there, but I made it over.
Not quite sure where to go from here.
Once past this point, all that remained until Bierstadt was some fun scrambling on good rock.
At Bierstadt's summit, I was surprised to see only 4 other people! Furthermore, these were the first people I had seen all day, and the last I would see until just before reaching the summit of Evans.
The traverse across the Sawtooth ridge was tough, as again, I wasn't sure whether or not I was on the right route until I got just below the notch to cross over. There's a huge snowfield below Bierstadt's summit, and it looked as though someone had crossed it several days before. I was following those footprints, but I strongly recommend snowshoes or crampons. The snow was slushy enough to go slowly across by the time I hit it, but it was still slick in most parts. I did slip and fall once, and started sliding toward some rocks but was able to dig my foot in to self-arrest. Honestly, I had no business being on that snowfield, since I'm not that experienced with glissading and I had no snow gear. Lesson learned, and I'm glad nothing serious happened.
Toward Bierstadt from the Sawtooth ledges. Don't take that snowfield lightly.
Conditions-wise, the route only has the huge snowfield below Bierstadt, and a couple of patches on the Evans ridge about a half mile before the summit. The snow patches on Evans are easily avoidable, and you don't have to lose sight of any cairns to get around them.
(P.S. Thanks to dnye for emailing me pics of the Sawtooth earlier this week!)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):