| Noob's 1st 14er (standard route)
We, my friend LW from Houston, Texas who lived in the same dorm when we both attended UT @ Austin flew in with ambitious goal of doing some 14ers. He's an IT desk jockey who loves Taichi and hot-tubbing who thinks because he summited Kilimanjaro with me last year in Afrika, he can take on the 14ers in Colorado. I have lived in north Colorado Springs for 1 year now, sleeping around 7200 feet every night, so I feel like I am in pretty good shape especially after finishing few cycles of P90X+ and 2 weeks of Insanity workout. We had high ambitions to do Bierstadt via Sawtooth to Evans today.
We left house ~ 400am and got to the trail head ~ 640am and the sun was already gleaming down at us; temperature in the crisp mid 50s and felt like Spring. Guanella pass from Georgetown was closed so we took the unpaved road from the south. It was a bumpy ride with plenty of hidden potholes, good thing that my Outback's struts were needing to be replaced anyways.
Now my engineer friend way over-packed, freakin' had 2 jackets, 6 liters of water and like 6 energy bars. I told him all that was going to weigh him down, but he didn't listen. We were moving turtle speed out of the marsh land. I kept yelling, I don't want grandpa (behind us) lapping us, dude!
It's now roughly 2 hrs into the hike, we are finally above the tree lines and have a clear view of Sawtooth as more hikers zip by us. I offered to carry my friends backpack, but he wanted to be tough and gave me only his extra 2 liter of water to carry, he still had 3.5 liters left and tons of energy bars.
LW now slows almost to a halt, but still crawls onward... I nap and await him for an hour just before the scrambling point ~ 13,000 feet and weather feels a bit colder like starting of fall, I put all my layers on (light fleece and light Arc'terex Gore-tex shell). As I sit there on my sun baked rock, I wonder why people prefer to come down an icy and slippery path? Little did I know I will be doing it later on down Sawtooth...
Finally LW arrives at class 2 scrambling part ~ 1015am, the trail is not clear, as he takes the tougher way to the summit (pictures makes it look more scary than it actually is). My GPS points guides me around to the left and it's an easy ascent.
We summit ~ 1110 am, finally, not a bad start and the sky looks good with plenty of time to scramble across Sawtooth towards Evans.
Unfortunately I think I followed the wrong way-points; instead of taking us across Sawtooth, I took us straight down, scrambling while small pebbles of hail starts hitting us from above as the sky turns angry. We hear thunder and see lightening in the distance and pray they stay away. It was a pretty miserable 2000 feet of rapid descent to avoid getting stoned to death by our own loose rocks as well as the hail .... Winter just creeped on us.
Scrambling down the junction of Sawtooth and Bierstadt at certain points seemed a bit more than class 3 and 70 degree pitch, but then again we were off the grid. Reminds me of the time I took the goat path in Snowdon in Wales, scary...
By 1pm, we had finally managed to scramble out of the mess I created and back to flatter terrain. By then we were the only 2 idiots left on the whole mountain as the sky cleared and the temperature warmed up to balmy 80s like a good summer day. The trail back now were muddy.
Well, I was bit disappointed not being able to do Evans on the same day, but at least I live to try it again another day.
We left the parking lot ~ 330 pm to prepare for our next day's Torreys and Grays.
Lesson learned: 1. Pack light and go swift 2. Learn how to read a GPS. 3. If no one else is on your trail, you should probably turn back. 4. Gotta love the weather in Colorado!
PS. If anyone who lives along the Front Ranges especially near Colorado Springs / Castle Rock area and share similar ambition of completing all the 14ers and want to share a ride / overnight trip to conquer some of the Elks and San Juans, PM me!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):