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Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby bflatsus » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:47 pm

Hi, my first post and I am trying not to be redundant of other posts about Bierstadt-Sawtooth-Evans.
I've been planning on hiking this solo for several months now and can think of little else. When I first read about this hike and planned my family's vaca around it, I did not realize the exposure. Now I've read a BUNCH, and I feel pretty prepared. At this point, looking for some encouragement and have a few specific questions.
I'm 43 in quite good shape. My 14er experience is summitting Mt. Princeton about 10 years ago, and to Long's Chasm Lake a few years ago. The plan is for my wife and kids to drive up Mt Evans and meet me at end of hike. If she struggles with the drive, I may need to depend on the kindness of strangers. We'll have been in colorado for a week by this time, so acclimation I think will be covered. I know I can do G&T for something easier if I eventually psych myself out, but I know I will regret it if I don't do Sawtooth.
I believe that I am not so much afraid of heights as I am afraid of the thing I'm standing on (bridges, tall buildings, ladders etc) giving way or of my own mis-step. But then again, I've never been in a situation like that of the Ledges, so we'll see about that I guess.
I've read about the "scary" "left hand turn" on the Sawtooth. Where is that? Is it the crossover, or the top of the exit ramp?
Also on the ramp, it appears quite large and I wonder is there a viable path to the right up and over that large boulder, and thereby staying the farthest away from the edge?
Would gloves (for scrambling) be recommended for this hike this time of year?
I tend to agree with some other threads I've read, that I'll have a decent idea of what I've gotten myself into after a little ways down off of Bierstadt, and if I'm really feeling unsure I can turn around at that point.
I expect I'll have plenty of company on an August Wed or Thur, right?
So if there's any advice thats not already been given in these forums, that might get me from about 80% confident I'm doing this to maybe 90%, I'd appreciate it. thanks!

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby aleugers » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:59 pm

The exposure really wasn't as bad as I was expecting before I did the Sawtooth. There was one narrow part as soon as you cross over which only seemed to last 10 feet or so. At that point I remember putting my hand up against the wall but it wasn't too necessary. Once you'repast thatt point the ledges are a bit wider and you aren't as close to the edge. At the exit ramp the ledge is pretty wide but there was some loose gravel. At that spot we moved to the upper portion of the ledge up higher in order to have something more substantial to hold on to. It was lots of fun and I'd definitely do it again. Coming off of Bierstadt to the ridge was a little loose so choose your steps carefully. The drive to Evans is no problem it's paved the whole way.

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby Ratlock » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:50 pm

I did the Sawtooth/Evans from the lake route last year. I am a 43 yr old total novice from the flatlands with a healthy fear of heights. It was my first weekend doing 14ers. I did Quandry the day before. While I was with an extremely experienced climber, it was not nearly as sketchy as I had expected. There was only one part on the ledges that I felt was very narrow. I told myself there was no way I was going to chicken out after travelling half way across the country to challenge myself on the Sawtooth. You will be glad you did it when you get to the top of the ramp. I can't wait to get back.

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby HuskyRunner » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:56 pm

+1 for aleugers comments. The ledges are wide enough you can stay away from the cliff edge and there's a fairly decent 'path' worn across them. Just keep your wits about, be a little careful not to stumble and you'll find your through the Sawtooth pretty quickly. I'm guessing the 'scary left hand turn' is the cross over, really no big deal if you're ok with a little exposure, the exit as well, really no big deal, just get some good hand holds, pick your footing and ease on through. Honestly I'm with aleugers, the descent on the talus down from Beirstadt was the most 'technical' part of the route and the area you're most likely to get hurt on, there are some little trails through the talus just right of the ridge that make the hiking a little easier. Be careful to stay off any snow or ice if there is any left when you go.

Personally don't like gloves for anything where I want a good grip on the terrain, being a climber I like to feel the rock, I've climbed up to easy 5th with gloves before but only because it was cold, and easy. I did see a couple of people wearing gloves on the Sawtooth and there is a thread here where you'll find various preferences, guess if it works for you go for it, not like it's going to hinder you much on this terrain.

Take your time, follow the cairns, and have a little care about where you step and enjoy being out in the mountains. As you said, if you're feeling a little unsure you can always turn back. I would suggest you at least see it through to the cross over, if you're comfortable up to there you'll have no problem with the rest, after all it's almost over at that point, well a few hundred yards more but no more technical that what you're already done.
"I made up my mind not to care so much about the destination, and simply enjoy the journey." David Archuleta
"And if they get out there they see, son of a bitch, this is a beautiful planet." Jim Whittaker

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby rmayer » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:13 pm

Sgt_Wilky, my wife and I went on this route Friday the 29th. It was my 1st class 3 with exposure. As everyone has said just be sure of your footing. It is narrow at first, but almost like walking on a sidewalk. The ledges aren't near as intimidating once you are on them. They look steep and off-camber as you step through and get a good look. As you go up the footing isn't as bad as it appears and you can almost always hang onto rock if you get nervous. The exposure is there, but if you concentrate on the task of getting up the slope it is not a problem. Thinking about it was much harder than doing it.
Randy

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby HuskyRunner » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:32 pm

Hi rmayer, I think we met on the Sawtooth last Friday, just before the first Gendarme. Glad you and your party had a good time, I certainly enjoyed being out. My wife wants to do the Sawtooth now so we'll head back up again sometime this summer.
"I made up my mind not to care so much about the destination, and simply enjoy the journey." David Archuleta
"And if they get out there they see, son of a bitch, this is a beautiful planet." Jim Whittaker

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby SolarAlex » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:25 pm

hey bro, i did the sawtooth for my first class 3 a couple weeks ago. i wrote a trip report if you want to check it out. it is definitely not as scary as it looks. dont get me wrong, the ledge demands your full attention, but it is wider than it looks. to me, the only really sketchy part was the 10 foot climb up gravel to the exit ramp. you dont want to slip here, but just pay attention to what you are doing, and you will be fine. once past that, the exit ramp is pretty wide and not too loose...before you know it, its over. that will be a great moment when you exit the sawtooth...it was for me!

trust me, i was super super nervous about it, hardly slept the night before. just take your time, look for the cairns and you will be fine. it was more fun to me than scary.

good luck!

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby BKS » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:33 pm

The ledges on the eastside of the crossover that are being discussed is merely a trail, mostly class 1. It is not class 3 scrambling. Just walking a trail with 500 ft. on one side. After the ledges, I think staying high on the loose angling dirt & scree ramp is the best way to go especially if you don't like being close to the edge of a dropoff in lose material.

The descent from Bierstadt is a loose, steep, tedious, talus slog, not over class 2, it just takes longer than it might seem. Once down that slope the hardest climbing is getting around the first gendarme. The lower you go, the easier the climbing. There is a high route cairned that ascends a chimney - its probably class 4. Drop down low and the difficult will drop below class 3. The chute up to the notch and crossover is easy to find and not that difficult.

Its a fun route. My son and I hitched a ride down from the top of Evans. He was having altitude problems due to the long time above 13K.

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby rmayer » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:41 pm

HuskyRunner, I remember you cruising right by. We are slow, but had a fun hike. :D

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby Sgt_Wilky » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:49 am

I second rmayer and solaralex's trip report! A shout out to huskyrunner as well! I thought the downclimb towards the Sawtooth was the most challenging, the Sawtooth itself for me was the highlight, the trip over to Evans was easy, albeit, a little dull. I'm still thinking about a trip report myself on that. Our group went the chimney route, and it was a little challenging, and I found it a little tedious, being that my upperbody strength isn't what it used to be. (Or more likely, isn't what it never was...) Anyway, make sure you drop below the snow field under the Bierstadt summit, do not attempt to go around it unless you have crampons. It was a fun hike though. Always good to get out and enjoy God's creation with good friends!

-Matt
"The merit of an action lies in finishing it to the end" -Genghis Khan

"I sat on top and was immediately addicted. I must do more of this." -SuperPolok

"A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another's." -Jean Paul Richter

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby a94buff » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:05 am

It's a great route and I echo everyone's comments. The views down into Te valley from along the ridge are spectacular.

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Re: Please pump me up for the Sawtooth

Postby Lemmiwinks » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:22 am

It looks worse than it actually is from Bierstadt's summit, so try not to psych yourself out too much. The entire route is very well-defined, so you can truely enjoy the views and the experience rather than worrying about getting lost off-route. The ledges are plenty wide and safe to cross. Just Do It!
“If you're bumming out, you're not gonna get to the top, so as long as we're up here we might as well make a point of grooving." -Scott Fischer

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