Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  10/02/2011
Date Climbed:   10/02/2011
Author:  SolarAlex
 a soggy hike up bierstadt  

wanted to try writing one of these, so here goes. today a couple buddies and I all decided to take a nice fall hike up mt bierstadt...i have done it once before and absolutely loved the hike, so i was psyched to go do it again. there was also talk of doing the sawtooth + mt evans, but that didnt end up happening. We left denver around 5 and hit the trailhead about 615, right around sunrise. it was a beautiful morning, a little dusting of snow on the upper elevations (probably 13000'+) and a relatively small crowd. spirits were high as we started through the willows.

Now you may be wondering why the title of this report is "a soggy hike up bierstadt". I'll tell you. there is a little stream crossing with some rocks that make a little crossing. its kind of awkward when the water is higher like it was today, but i did it a couple months ago with no problems. it was cold this morning, right around freezing, and i was aware of this fact as I started to make my way across the creek. I stepped on a big rock and was faced with a decision: go left, step on the small rock and probably put my toe in the water, or go right, and hope that the bigger rock was just wet and not icy. I knew it was going to be slippery, and i even said to myself "you better go right or you are going for a swim" as i went right, and slipped and ended up on my ass in the water. I jumped out quickly, but the damage was done. I was soaked from the waist down, shoes, socks etc. thankfully i wasn't hurt, I banged my elbow and my hip but i think ill live. the camera and all my stuff survived intact, thanks to my backpack. My friends asked me if I wanted to call it a day. I said hell no... I took the soaked sweats off (another lesson learned) and took off my soggy gloves and socks, and continued up the mountain barefoot in my boots and wearing basketball shorts. my feet were soaked, i was cold due to wearing shorts in the morning cold...i was pretty miserable, and kinda dreading the rest of the day. my friend apparently cant use the easy photo setting Image
freshly soaked

which brings me to my next point: no more cotton. this is my first year in colorado and my first year of hiking 14ers (which has been probably one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life). I have been blessed with good weather and dry conditions on all of my hikes, so I would just wear my cotton hoodie, a cotton tshirt and basketball shorts with cotton sweats over them. i knew i was stupid for doing that, but today definitely put it in perspective. Had it been 20 degrees colder I could have had a real problem. so definitely no more cotton anything!

back to the hike, i sloshed on and we were actually making good time. Juan managed to rip his fingertip on a rock somehow and due to the fact we were all huffing and puffing, it bled like crazy. Image
juans bloody finger
crocodile hunter

the section right before the ridge had some snow and ice, but it was easy to walk on and not too slippery. i had spikes but decided they would have been overkill. it was barely a dusting of snow, and the ice was limited. Image
more snow

we hit the summit around 930am. it was absolutely beautiful...sunny and warm with little wind. i took my soaked boots off and laid them on a rock to try and dry them a little. we sat on the summit for nearly an hour, had some lunch and then headed down to the car, arriving at around 1215. Image
nate and juan

driving down guanella pass into georgetown was absolutely breathtaking...the aspens are bright yellow...i have never seen trees like that in my life!

all in all, today was an awesome hike. obviously falling in the creek sucked but in reality it could have been far worse. could have hit my head or broke my wrist or all kinds of other fun things. it was an eye opener though and i'll definitely be better prepared in the future. until the next one!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

10/03/2011 02:29
I appreciate the good laugh...

Good you learned the lesson of (carefully) crossing streams. I learned mine while climbing little bear. Jumped across a 12 in strip of water in snow shoes...bam water up to my knees (12in strip was 3 feet wide), and it was almost dark. Fire time to dry to gear for the climb the following morning.


Thanks for posting
10/03/2011 15:47
Admittedly, much of what I wear is cotton too. Your stumble makes for another great example of why not to.
You mentioned intentions of doing the Sawtooth. We're thinking of doing it tomorrow, but with the nightly snow dustings, we're having 2nd thoughts. Do you or anyone have any beta on the Tooth? Thanks!


10/04/2011 02:07
it looked fairly clear, the part that is shaded all day would probably be icy, but i really couldnt say. the descent off of bierstadt looked snow free. i saw a report from a few days ago that said the sawtooth only had snow on the narrow ledge part. hope that helps


10/07/2011 20:25
Crossed the sawtooth on the 17 or 18 of Sept. 2011. At that time it had very little snow on the ridge facing the side of Mt. Evans. However, there were icy spots between the rocks. Some places were slick. The trail runs pretty high up near the ridge. There was a lot of bolder hoping. It took two hours to cross. The side facing the parking lot had icy spots as well. I hope that helps.

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