Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Sawtooth, The  -  13,780 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  08/19/2011
Date Climbed:   08/17/2011
Author:  e_rock1111
 Bierstadt, Sawtooth and Evans  

For a while, I had been thinking about this hike, I just didn't have the time or partners. Finally, I decided to set a date and go out and do it. I recruited my friend and father-in-law to come along with me. Unfortunately, my friend texted me the night before the hike and told me he was sick and wouldn't be able to make it. Minus one in are party, I decided to wake up and do the hike anyway.

I met my father-in-law at the park & ride outside Golden, at the Lookout Mountain exit at 6:15. He was a few minutes late, but we would still miss the road closures that happen during the day at Guanella Pass. Right before the parking area for the trailhead, we had to wait a few minutes for workers to clear the road of a few machines. After a brief wait, we were in the parking lot, sunscreened and ready to hit the trail at 7:45. It was a little later than what we had wanted, but the weather forecast looked promising and we thought we would give it a shot. Looking up at the path that laid ahead of us looked fairly daunting.Image
THe trail ahead

The trail up to Mt. Bierstadt was fairly busy. The walk through the wooden bridges was welcome, so our feet weren't wet and muddy for what was in front of us. After the willows there were some gentle switchbacks that helped ease us into the altitude. Many people were stopping along the way for extended breaks and great views of the mountains to the west.

The trail was nice and gentle until we climbed out of the valley. Once on the actually ridge line area, we were hopping across some boulders and deciding our own trails towards the summit.Image
Looking up towards the summit of Mt. Bierstadt
After a few minutes of walking across the boulders, we reached a very crowded summit. It took us roughly two hours to reach the top. We sat for a few minutes, ate a light snack and took in the sights. Grays and Torreys looks huge when on the summit.Image
Me on the summit of Bierstadt

Finally, we headed to the north side of the summit and started our descent towards Sawtooth Ridge. Some people looked at us like we were crazy as we headed over. We quickly picked up the cairns and slowly made our way down the boulders. Image
Me heading towards the ridge
The scramble was pretty slow going, as we tried to determine if it was best to go high or low. After a few failed attempts, we picked a great line and made our way towards the large gendarme.Image
The large gendarme

Before attempting our climb over it, we quickly refueled and met up with another hiker. We decided to team up through this difficult climb. After a few maneuvers, which really didn't make me too nervous, we were up and over. Quickly, we passed through the notch and looked up at our next challenge, a nice steep chute up the Sawtooth. I stayed on the inside, as close the rock wall as I could, I didn't have any problems. My f-i-l stayed outside, since he was a little too tall to get underneath the rock. The footing wasn't as good on the outside, but nothing too tricky. Image
Me gearing up for the chute

Once on top of the chute, we checked back towards the ridge and it was shocking to see how dramatic the exposure to the west was.Image
Looking back towards the ridge
After taking in the view, we headed towards the top of the Sawtooth. We jumped some boulders and quickly reached the top. We snapped a few photos and looked towards Mt. Evans.Image
My father-in-law on top of the Sawtooth

The path to Mt. Evans was fairly straight forward. We just followed cairns, jumped some boulders and took in some great views of Abyss Lake.Image
Looking towards West Evans
We only ran into a few people at this point, but could hear the voices growing as we got closer to the parking lot. Getting towards Evans, I went into a zombie mode. I just wanted to get to the summit. We made the summit and relaxed. I popped a few ibuprofen and snapped out of my zombie like state. Image
F-I-L on top of Evans

After taking in the views and impressing the people that drove up by showing them the path we took, we headed back down the same path. It looked a little different coming back, but we just followed the cairns. Once we got off the side of Evans, we headed towards the gully. On our way towards the descent, we saw seven mountain goats just eating some the grass. Image
The mountain goats grazing
As we got even closer to the steam, we got in a good look at the sheep. Image
Sheep staring

The descent through the gully was pretty nasty.Image
Looking towards the descent
It was very steep and loose. We slipped coming down a few times, but nothing too serious. It was incredible how much altitude you lost so quickly. Once out of the gully we reached the willows. It was fairly mucky and the path finding was a little tricky at times, but overall I found it enjoyable. My feet needed to be cooled off after all that hiking.

We plodded through the trail until we eventually met back up the Mt. Bierstadt trail. We crossed back over some of the bridges and eventually made it back to the car at 4:45. In all it was nine hours of hiking, with some difficult terrain and spectacular views. To celebrate our victory, we stopped in at Tommyknockers in Idaho Springs going back to the cars.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great report & pictures!
08/19/2011 22:21
Thanks for an awesome report. My son and I are heading up there tomorrow and weren't really sure how long the hike was going to take. Although after looking at your pictures, we might skip the sawtooth this time.

Ks Flatlander

Bierstadt from G Pass
08/21/2011 16:46
I've been thinking of doing Bierstadt for some time. In the trail description (from Guanella Pass) on this site it says there is now a boardwalk over the willows swamp. Is that the case and does it cover the whole swampy area or do you still have to slog thru some mud etc? I just want to be prepared and have the right gear for the conditions. Thanks!!!


Ks Flatlander
08/21/2011 16:49
The path to Bierstadt from Guanella Pass is covered with boardwalks, no muddy mess. It was coming down after doing the Sawtooth and Evans that contains the mud.

Ks Flatlander

Bierstadt access from Georgetown
08/21/2011 16:50
Another question: Is the road open to Guanella pass from Georgetown? From what I've read it sounds like it might be at least part of the time. Can anybody verify? I'm headed out to Colorado this coming Friday and plan to hike Lincoln and maybe Bierstadt.


Ks Flatlander
08/22/2011 15:48
The road is open at all time on the weekend and Monday-Friday the posted times that it is closed is fairly accurate. We did have to wait for about 25 minutes around 5:15 heading back towards Georgetown.

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