Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  07/05/2013
Modified:  01/19/2014
Date Climbed:   07/04/2013
Author:  Lady McClimbsalot
 Bierstadt/Evans via the Sawtooth - Tour d Abyss  

The Adventures of Lady McClimbsalot continue!

Since my last trip report on Yale, we climbed Huron June 9 and La Plata June 15. Neither were too worthy of a trip report, although I did summit Huron with a full jar of pickles in hopes of receiving a "pickle sponsorship." I'm still waiting to hear back from Vlasic... Anyways, I figured my first class 3 (and first combo) would be appropriate to pick back up with.

We left Denver at 3:45 am, a bit late due to me taking forever and forgetting my sunglasses, which I was scolded incessantly for. For no reason. Jerk. Anyway, it's funny, when camping I can wake up and be dressed, tent packed up, and eating a breakfast burrito in 15 minutes, but when I have to get out of bed, it's like pulling teeth. Nevertheless, we made it to our trailhead just after mile marker 11 on Mt Evans Road and pulled off. It was about 4:45 am when I realized that I had forgotten my orthotics for my boots... which didn't even have the original soles in them. Due to my already forgetful morning, I said nothing because I knew I'd hear whining about it all day. I just doubled up my socks and toughed it out. It can't be THAT bad, right?? We began our descent down into the valley (STRAIGHT down), crossed the field, and then went up (STRAIGHT up) to begin the east ridge approach to Mt Bierstadt. That whole straight up part can kiss my Marmot-pantsed backside, that's for sure. I'm not sure if it was the 6 miles I ran the day before that gave me jello legs or the fact I was walking on what felt like paper mache, but I was a wildfire of fury climbing that crap. Despite my incredibly controlled silent rage, we made it to the top, and everything in the universe somehow centered itself again.
Our descent began near that lowest dip across the valley (this was taken from the east ridge)

Boy that sun felt nice. Boy I wish I didn't forget my sunglasses twice.

It was at this moment the sunshine poured over the rocks like trickling happiness. It felt so good after all the miserable wind that laughed in our faces in the valley. It was at this magic moment (you must sing those words) that I realized I forgot something else. Again. My sunglasses that I had already turned around for earlier were now sitting idly in the car. The scene from "Touching the Void" where the lost climber screams, "STUPID!!!!!!" came to mind. *sigh* Sole-less and with sunburnt eyeballs, we carried on our merry way.
Beastmode in full swing

Climby climby!

Oh guide me, fearless leader!

Waiting while he let Mt Bierstadt know what he thinks of it...

The east ridge was a blast and we were making great time. I decided there was nothing left to do but laugh at myself for my mistakes and enjoy the views. We were in high spirits and the weather was great, which was our biggest concern. If I were to be completely honest, the east ridge was more fun than challenging. As long as you go at a comfortable pace and are SAFE, it really feels more like an obstacle course than a class 3 climb.

With a smile from ear to ear I scrambled to the summit of Mt Bierstadt to join the masses. It took all of four minutes up there to snap some pictures before we began our descent towards the Sawtooth. Something about large groups of people on mountains makes us suddenly feel like we have altitude sickness. It's the weirdest thing.
'Nother notch on the ol' belt!


Dun dun dunnnn

So remember my cocky statement about how Bierstadt's east ridge is "fun" and "not that challenging?" The Sawtooth is nothing like that. Well, we did have a lot of fun, but it's that kind of fun where you're like, "Man, if I die at least it's doing something awesome" kind of fun. Yeah, it was hard as hell, to put it lightly and politely. We don't have as many pictures actually ON the Sawtooth, seeing as we were making certain to not fall off a rock and splat like a water balloon, but we did it. And that's kind of cool I guess. 8)

That final pitch is avoidable, but we chose to add a little class 4 into our lives ;)

Veni, vidi, vici!

Bierstadt and the Sawtooth

As we climbed up, down, up, down all the way across, the clouds loomed ominously over our heads. We thought for sure we'd have to hijack some marmot's humble abode and hunker down for a bit, but the weather held up and was gorgeous for us. I had been in Florida for a wedding all last week, so I got a bit of a headache halfway through the ridge, but drinking more water kept it tolerable until we could stop. By the time we finished the Sawtooth and stopped for our first real break, it was 10:30 am. Pretty good timing, I was told, since I'm still new to this climbing stuff. We had a snack and sat down for about 5 minutes, then continued on towards Mt Evans. It was SO nice to walk on grass again. We met up with a nice couple from Minneapolis and chatted with them off and on until we decided to throw it into high gear again and FINISH.
14er #5 in a month!

It's amazing we got a shot without people in the background. I'm all for sharing the views, but this "tourist attraction summit" brought back those intense spontaneous waves of AMS. We literally got bumped into/bumped off the trail because no one was aware there is such thing as hiker etiquette. There were many LOLs to be had as we snapped our picture next to the herds, and then we quickly headed to the road. Alas! I saw my first mountain goats! Well, the first ones we saw we decided had to be the product of some kind of inbred deer-goat-dog. They were hard to classify as one animal... so we went with that.
The indigenous deer-goat-dog

But then, alas! The white mountain goats arrived! And with them, THE BABIES!!!! I squealed with joy uncontrollably when I heard their little bleating. They looked like baby polar bears.
BABY goats!!

However, during the face-off between their older siblings, I was denied.
I'm gonna steal your baby...

No? Welp, see ya later!

All in all, a FANTASTIC day! Be watching for a detailed trip report next week from me, as we are heading to Durango Saturday-Wednesday to conquer the Chicago Basin (Windom, Sunlight, Eolus, N Eolus, and hopefully my first 13er, Jupiter!). Thanks for reading, and keep on climbin'!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

The mushy couples stuff is nice...
07/05/2013 16:45
but the goat photos are great! Fun to get so close. I got surrounded by a heard of big horn sheep once, it was a very cool experience. Those goats have pointy horns, wonder if anyone has ever gotten gored?


07/05/2013 17:39
He can't be THAT much of a prick


thank you!
07/05/2013 18:35
do you mind if I ask a couple questions? I have only done Torrey/Grays (I used to live in CO but now live in Indiana). I am coming back to town and wanted to do Bierstadt/sawtooth/Evans. I have recruited friends to climb with me but they aren't as into it as I am...should we bail on the sawtooth/Evans piece and just do Bierstadt? (how difficult/scary was the sawtooth?)


round trip time?
07/05/2013 18:38
Oh I forgot to ask: what was your total trip time?

Lady McClimbsalot

07/05/2013 19:01
The Sawtooth is not for the faint of heart. The west approach to Bierstadt is like a lazy nature walk compared to what we did... so if your friends haven't been running every day and doing lots of pull-ups, I wouldn't suggest doing it. Two guys did it the other day also and said it took them 14 hours... if that gives you an idea. We began around 4:45 am and finished around 12:30 pm. That was without stops except a few potty breaks and a snack for 5 minutes. Also take into consideration how many people you're taking. There were only two of us, and you're only as fast as your slowest climber. That's my two cents just based off what I've done so far. The Sawtooth isn't something you just ”do for fun” so be careful Oh yeah, and the weather there is VERY unpredictable and known to storm late morning/early afternoon, so be sure to use your discretion. If you're at the Bierstadt summit and see clouds, it might be best to just quit then. Not worth getting stuck on the ridge. Good luck and let me know how it goes!


PIC 16
07/05/2013 19:20
Wow, great shot with lots of color

Lady McClimbsalot

Thanks everybody!!
07/05/2013 21:25


BIghorn sheep
07/05/2013 22:02
Your ”deer-goat-dog” are really ugly bighorn sheep. Nice trip report, I enjoy your sense of humor. Remember your sunglasses for the Chicago Basin group!

Tory Wells

Yes, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep...
07/08/2013 19:07
the state animal of Colorado. They are a little shaggy looking because they are still shedding their winter coats.


Good Sell
07/11/2013 00:38
I've always wanted to do The Tour, but was kind of worried about the class 3 climbing, but you really persuaded me to give it a shot in the next few weekends.

Congrats on another successful summit! My group saw you and your man friend descending Yale in June. Keep up the good work!


climbing gear?
07/22/2013 22:02
You sound like a good match for our trip to ask a few questions. Most importantly did you use climbing gear for the sawtooth? I dont think i could convience my friend to join if you do and I would prefer not take that risk. For what ive read/pictures on yours,comments and other trips its seems you dont but I would be to veryyyy sure of about it before going! Thanks

Lady McClimbsalot

No climbing gear.
07/23/2013 14:32
I've never rock climbed in my life, so any climbs I do are au naturale The Sawtooth has zero need for ropes or anything more than maybe some gloves because those rocks are pretty sharp. We definitely got some scrapes on our shins, but honestly, not an issue at all. You'll be fine! Just take it slow and steady. Good luck!


08/26/2013 17:02
Did you guys go up that pitch in the video instead of following the cairns? We did the Tour de Abyss yesterday and aside from a little Longs-style unilateral exposure on that backside of the tooth I thought it was pretty much class 2 the whole way. I think I only used my hands a couple times. East Ridge felt a lot more like class three than the Sawtooth. That pitch looks fun though, wish I had gone that way.

Lady McClimbsalot

08/28/2013 04:19
We purposely tried to find some class 4 whenever possible Definitely not along the standard route, but nothing too life-threatening

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