| East Ridge of Bierstadt and Sawtooth Traverse
So this climb was several weeks ago, and I've been meaning to post this trip report (my first) since then... But before I start I wanted to express my gratitude to this website, it is an amazing source of information that has served us well since moving here, I'm continually amazed at the comrodery and openness with route beta!
We spent the night in the back of my truck at the switchback at 13,000 feet on Mt. Evans road and woke the next morning just before sunrise to start our climb, here is a panoramic view of the east ridge from a bit down the gully. The previous description of Bierstadt's ridge I've read states the appropriate gully descent into the cirque between Evans and Bierstadt occurs at the low point of the saddle at 13,000. However there was a trail marker at the top of a gully just uphill (on the Evans side) from the lowest, which is were we chose to descend, with our path to the left of the central diamond shaped rock formation seen from across the cirque. The descent wasn't too bad, this is about 1/3 of the way down, there was a bit of wet rock that made for a few hairy moves but nothing too bad. In crossing the cirque over to the east ridge we were treated to this beautiful view of the first sunlight on the sawtooth.
The climb up the hillside to gain Bierstadt's east ridge was a bit steep so we stopped for a plain bagel chew-fest and enjoyed the view. As mentioned in the other TRs the first couple of gendarmes are easy to navigate and require little more than high stepping to overcome, however, and without a doubt, the third gendarme, point 13,641 was the crux of this entire route. Previous TRs indicate to stay to the right on grassy ramps and then cut back a bit on a ledge to regain the ridge. There is a portion of the eastern face of the gendarme that is 5th class and I think that's what we ended up on. Luckily we had made our way up high enough to where it was about two moves that were hard 4th class to easy 5th class, but with a couple hundred feet of air under the ol' arse that'll give you that classic pucker. After those moves we were back on the ridge and there was a significant amount of 3rd class moves as we followed the gendarme up and down, sometimes with a bit of exposure. After point 13,641 the hard part's over and it's just a final push to the summit of Bierstadt, here is looking back at the east ridge from towards from the summit.
The summit was a zoo so we forced down a sawdust bar and made our way down Bierstadt's north face towards the sawtooth.
I've read this before, but the appearance of the sawtooth, especially the exit ramps, is quite a bit more intimidating than the actual climb. Following the ridge prior to crossing over at the notch was more difficult technically than the exit ledges. Once at the notch, we crossed over to the other side (the exposed side) and started up. It was over before we knew it. The ledges are not quite a slopey as they look, but the rock/dirt is loose.
About the time we exited the sawtooth, the thunderstorms showed up, we decided to skip the summit of Evans, as we'd driven to the top the night before, and made our way back down to the saddle and our car.
I have to say, this was a pretty awesome climb. The east ridge is exciting, fun climbing on outstandingly solid and sticky rock. We only saw two other people, on the ridge, the whole morning and enjoyed the continuous views of the sawtooth, Evans, Abyss lake and the wonderful cirque. This was more or less our first 14ers since moving here but we're looking forward to doing some more classic lines just like this.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):