Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  06/26/2012
Date Climbed:   06/25/2012
Author:  cwm191
Additional Members:   edhaman

 Fun on the East Ridge  

Mt. Bierstadt - East Ridge with descent of West Slopes
Start time: 0600
Summit: 1100
End: 1315
Climbers: Ed (edhaman) & Wade (cwm191)

This is my first attempt at a trip report, so please forgive any errors or peculiarities of presentation. Ed and I decided to ascend the East Ridge route and descend the standard route in lieu of either descending to Abyss Lake or traversing the Sawtooth. This turned out to be a good idea since the ridge took a little longer than either of us anticipated. To facilitate this plan, we met at Guanella Pass at 0400 and headed over to the Mt. Evans Road.

The descent of the first gully was loose and slow. At our leisurely pace, it took us about 45 minutes to reach the bottom.Image
About to drop into the gully. (photo by edhaman)
Looking towards the ridge as I work down the gully. (photo by edhaman)

Once in the basin, we made our way towards the slope leading to the ridge, enjoying the views along the way.Image
Viewing the upper basin. (photo by cwm191)

After a quick snack and clothing adjustment, we began our ascent. The slope probably isn't as steep as it seems, and we made plenty of switchbacks, but it was nevertheless a nice workout. Image
Making our way up the slope. (photo by edhaman)

Once atop the ridge, we eyed our first obstacle, which we scampered over in a matter of minutes.Image
Ridge point #1. An easy warmup for the scrambling to come. (photo by cwm191)
Ed climbing the first point. (photo by cwm191)

The next bump on the ridge is significantly more substantial, and it provides an increased challenge in terms of difficulty.Image
Point #2 with me in the foreground for scale. (photo by edhaman)
A look at our chosen line. (photo by edhaman)
Making my way to the top... (photo by edhaman)
...with Ed making quick work of the same line. (photo by cwm191)

Next, the crux of the route, Point 13,641, comes into view.Image
A look at Point 13,641 with the summit to the left in the distance. (photo by cwm191)
From here we followed the route description as close as we could and there are even some helpful cairns along the way.Image
Skirting along the grassy ledges. (photo by edhaman)
Climbing before traversing back to the left. (photo by edhaman)

Once the ridge is gained, the remaining way to the top of 13,641 is visible. It is here that we lost some time as we debated the best way to the top. The area shown in green is probably the way to go. We (ok, I) chose the wall on the left in red. Difficulty here probably exceeds class 3 but neither of us minded.Image
The remaining route up 13,641. The easiest way is probably right, so we went left. (photo by edhaman)
Not the easiest way up, but it was fun! (photo by edhaman)
The view down from this area. (photo by cwm191)

We eventually arrived on top of Point 13,641. We viewed the remaining ridge to the summit with trepidation. As Bill writes in the route description, "don't be fooled, there's plenty of distance and more scrambling to come." It took us nearly an hour to reach the summit from here. Image
What? The summit is how far? (photo by edhaman)
Looking back at Point 13,641. (photo by cwm191)
Viewing some of the remaining bumps on the ridge! (photo by edhaman)

Finally, we arrived at a summit crowded with about a dozen people, including a baby. Image
On the summit, looking back at the ridge. (photo by edhaman)
From here, our descent on the standard route was uneventful with it taking just under 2 hours to get back to the trailhead.

Overall Thoughts

This route was an absolute blast. Comparing it to my only other class 3 route (Kelso Ridge), both Ed and I agree that this was probably more difficult due to the amount of scrambling all along the ridge. Were it not for the ugly gully descent to start the route, I'd say this route was more fun than Kelso also. If you're looking for solitude on a crowded Front Range peak, this is the route. We saw no one all morning until we reached the summit.

Finally, remember that climbing 14ers can be very dangerous; a fact attested to by this serious injury suffered by Ed during a downclimb. Stay safe out there everyone! Thanks for reading.Image

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Thanks for the pics
06/26/2012 22:39
Poor Ed! Thanks for all the photos - they make the trip report come alive and help beginners like me figure out what to expect. Looks like virtually no snow. I'm excited to climb Bierstadt this weekend!


06/26/2012 22:45
You're right. I don't remember seeing any snow at any part of the route.


nice job
06/27/2012 16:43
that route looks a lot more fun than the standard west slopes. I'd like to give it a try.

That's a nasty looking injury, will they be able to save it or does it need to be amputated?


06/28/2012 12:14
I am looking at doing this route on the 4th (sawtooth instead of standard descent)
Good pictures and very helpful.


No problem
06/28/2012 14:08
We wanted to do the Sawtooth, but we're slow and that would have made it a long day. Expect probably 2 hours on Sawtooth, then another 2 or so to Evans and back to your car.


Keeping the finger
06/28/2012 18:26
I think the finger will survive, although I'm keeping a close watch for signs of the granitic flesh-eating bacteria. As for returning on the Sawtooth, it's about a 3-mile hike down the road from the Evans summit parking lot to where the car was parked.

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