Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
"West Evans" - 14,256 feet
Date Posted:  03/19/2014
Modified:  03/12/2015
Date Climbed:   03/19/2014
Author:  SnowAlien
 Fall & Winter on Mt. Evans  

Evans in Winter

Date climbed: 03/19/2014
Route: West ridge from Guanella pass
Stats: ~12 miles, ~3,800 elev. gain
Time: ~9 hours 45 min, 8.15 am to 6 pm
Mode of transportation: skis to 12.5k

With the last day of winter'14 boasting a good weather and wind forecast, I got motivated to take a day off for the mid-week hike of Mt. Evans. I left Denver around 6am and got to the TH sometime before 8am (Trailhead = Guanella pass winter closure from Georgetown side, 1.8 miles from the summer TH). I felt tired from lack of sleep. Finally I started skinning about a quarter after 8am.

The road was an easy skin and soon I was rolling into the basin. The willows still greeted me, only this time they were submerged under a thick blanket of snow.

The willows

They no longer posed a threat though, as skis provided just enough floatation to stay atop the fairly consolidated snow. With that in mind, I aimed for the most direct route towards Scott Gomer creek.

Square Top

Skinning up parallel to the creek

Heading up Scott Gomer drainage

Time to "park" the skis ~12.5k and head up the mostly dry ridge

Hiking up with the view of Square Top

It's a long slog, so I am entertained by bumping into a herd of sheep. I got pretty close to them.

Finally the path was clear and the West ridge was in sight.


Frozen Summit lake

Remaining route towards the summit

Near the summit

Got to the summit around 2.30pm or so

Bierstadt & Sawtooth on the way back

Ran into the same herd of sheep on the hike out. They were very curious. Got to the ski stash around 5pm.

Looking back at the route


Sawtooth on the ski out

The morning skin track was mostly covered up already by the wind, which picked up somewhat in the afternoon. Still, it wasn't too bad. Had to throw skins on for about a mile to cross the flats. Back at the car just before 6pm.

Evans in the Fall

Date climbed: 10/14/2011
Route: West ridge from Guanella pass, also "West" Evans
Partners: LynnKH, Nick
Stats: ~10 miles, ~3,100 elev. gain.

We read that the standard route goes through the soggy willows and we were really keen on avoiding that, especially since the previous weekend Lynn had to turn around after her partner's boot got soaked. By accident, I stumbled upon the TR (from 2008!) describing a variation of the standard route, but I don't think this route is a common knowledge even on
Trip Report 1
Trip Report 2
Trip Report 3

The route goes through the Grey Wolf-Spalding drainage and crosses the Scott Gomer creek. Starting from Bierstadt TH, we had no trouble locating the trail through the willows just from this description:

"Take the Bierstadt trail to just past the big lake (before the creek crossing), turn left and climb over the little hill, continue north through a potentially soggy low section, go over another hill, turn left (back toward the pass) to circle 100 feet or so back around the end of another soggy section, and you'll find the beginning of a dry trail that will lead you up to the Grey Wolf/Spalding drainage (not the gully)."

It worked out even better for us, since we were able to find a decent trail on the first hill we stumbled across. Once there, the trail took us all the way to the hill near the Scott Gomer creek. I believe the creek crossing is the only potentially tricky part on this route - the key is to find large stable rocks that would take you to the other side. Some of the route descriptions we've seen parallel Scott Gomer creek for some time before turning and going up Mt. Spalding. We crossed the creek very low and stayed on the ridge from the beginning and it eventually merged with the standard route at about 13,400 feet. We took the exact route that is described here with blue arrows and the comment: "We did not do this upper route but it may be better". We are pleased to report that indeed it is

We also found that it was not necessary to scramble over those rocks. The trail now goes around them. Very likely that the trail has improved since 2008 though.

On the way back, we followed the same route through the willows, since it worked so well for us on the way up. Except we elected to stay on trail until the bitter end, but alas, we lost the trail about 0.5 mile from the parking lot. Hence, we had to bushwhack through the willows a bit at the end, but it was not a major ordeal.

Among other highlights - we did not see another soul on Evans the entire day, but noticed a few people on top of Bierstadt though. Total # of cars in the Guanella pass parking lot - up to 8, including casual hikers and photographers. I am convinced that the best time to do busy 14ers is off-season.

Starting out

crossing the Scott Gomer creek

Taking the ridge. Notice how it parallels the route up Bierstadt.

Views of Sawtooth from the ridge.

Sawtooth from the east side.

A little bit of snow on the Evans summit ridge route

Not a soul to be seen on the Evans summit

Except for those guys

Back on trail and looking at Sawtooth


My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Whaddaya know!? That looks familiar
10/19/2011 15:19
Natalie, it sounds like you got some use out of the TRs. Seeing mine again made me think I should go back and re-do the route with a GPS. When I first did it, I had only heard about it, but didn't have any idea what to look for. Glad you were able to improve on my stumbling around.


Yes indeed!
04/02/2015 19:45
I did not plan on writing a TR (hey it's Evans!), but this off-beaten path route has to be documented somehow. Once I got home and reviewed my photos, I realized that I did not take any pictures of the actual ”route” (but there was plenty of Sawtooth shots in there ), so I had to reference the reports that did. So officially, you are a trailblazer

CO Native

The better option
10/20/2011 18:02
I agree that your route is the better one to use. Later in the year as more snow falls the problem becomes the soft deep snow that fills the valley and buries the willows. I believe it is listed in Roach's guidebook as the standard way to climb Evans from Guanella pass with the route Bill describes being an alternative to that.

”I am convinced that the best time to do busy 14ers is off-season. ”

It is a fantastic way to avoid the crowds, another is to do night hikes. I did Grays and Torreys in the summer on a weekend and never saw another person (besides my brother, with whom I was hiking) the entire trip up an down. I think we started around 11 pm.

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