Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  09/03/2011
Date Climbed:   08/25/2011
Author:  mc24337
 Bierstadt - Normal Route  

This was our first 14er attempt during a two-week hiking trip this last August - during which we reached the summits of Bierstadt, Grays and Torreys, Elbert, and Massive.
We camped at the Guanella Pass campground a couple of days earlier and hiked to the Silver Dollar lake to get acclimated the day before attempting Bierstadt. The campground is located in a wonderful spot. We got there very early on Tuesday because of the road closure and got a nice campsite.
The day before the hike we surveyed the trailhead and drove to the upper parking lot, from where you can see pretty much the entire trail.
The day of the hike, we set forth at around 7:15 AM, on a Thursday morning. There were only a few people at the trail head (probably 5-6 small groups).
The sun was rising behind the Sawtooth (that connects Bierstadt and Evans).
The Sawtooth at sunrise from the Bierstadt trail head

The trail is really obvious and really flat throughout the initial part. After about an hour at a very relaxed pace, we had reached about 12,500 ft.
Here's a view of the lower part of the trail from there towards the parking lot.
The trail then gradually increases its steepness, until it becomes somewhat harder to follow in the final rocky stretch that takes you to the summit - however, it's a fairly easy climb overall. As you reach the basis of the final ascent to the summit, the view opens up towards the East slopes, and Frozen Lake became visible underneath a patch of snow:
Frozen Lake from the trail just before reaching the summit.

We reached the summit in about 3.5 hours, hiking at a very moderate pace:
My son and I on the summit of Bierstadt

It was a warm and very clear morning, and the view from the top was grand:
Looking SW from the top of Bierstadt

It started to become cloudier as we descended. We spent a good deal of time on the summit area and started descending only after noon.
Looking back at the summit as we descend Bierstadt.

Overall, I would recommend Bierstadt as a starting point for those who have 14ers ambitions. The elevation gain is relatively manageable (less than 3000 ft), the trail is good and simple to follow, the exposure minimal. Getting acclimated is - of course - of the essence: the trail head is located at a very high 11,600 ft. Camping nearby allows you to acclimate and to get an early start.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

09/11/2011 23:53
My husband and I are planning this one for that last jaunt of the season.... Thanks for the helpful info and terrific photos!
Congrats on all of the summits. That is quite the accomplishment in only 2 weeks! Happy Trails!

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