Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  09/01/2013
Modified:  09/02/2013
Date Climbed:   09/01/2013
Author:  rybaby13

I frustrated by trip reports that don't offer any useful info when I am trying to learn about an upcoming hike, so I will avoid the fluff and provide my best account of the need-to-know info.

I started from the parking lot at the top of Guanella pass. I arrived the afternoon before so I was able to get a parking spot, but there were probably 200 cars parked on the road when I finished my hike the next day. Definitely arrive by 5:30 if you want a spot in the lot. This was also labor day weekend, so it was probably more crowded than usual. Bierstadt is less than an hour from Denver, and a popular hike, so expect crowds.

I was planning to wake up at 5am, but loud people in the parking lot and an uncomfortable nest in the back of my subaru had me on the trail at 4:35. Bierstadt has a very well defined trail, especially in the first 3/4 of the hike before the rocky top. I was able to walk hard (Shout out Dewey Cox!) in the dark and summit in 1:59. I caught part of the sunrise at the top. Absolutely stunning. One thing to be aware of is the river that you must cross about 20 minutes into the hike. There is no bridge and if the water is high there are no stepping stones either. I played it safe, took my boots off, and waded across barefoot. I did not want to slip on a rock in the dark and get completely soaked!

Then the sawtooth. From the top of Bierstadt it looks like you will fall off the face of the earth if you even walk towards the sawtooth. You won't. The trail meanders to the right side of the knife edge (hint: there is no left side) It is technical, but I think 95% of people could complete the sawtooth with enough time, so start early! The trail disappears frequently, so the best way to get across is to pick a line and stick with it.

It is hard to tell where the sawtooth ends and Mt Evans begins. It also doesn't matter. Remember to keep to the right as you exit the sawtooth. When you're on Mt Evans, walk until directly below a chute, then walk straight up it. Yes, steep sucks, but it is also the most direct route, and by doing this you avoid traversing the side of Evans with a trail above and parallel. Never walk directly below people on rocky terrain! It's a good way to end up at the pearly gates.

Pop out on Evans, and head for the summit. It's too easy at this point (navigationally. But this is also the least physically strenuous part of the hike).
I went from the summit of Bierstadt to the summit of Evans in 2:40, walking hard to stay warm. Important note: there is no running water at the top of Evans, this is not Pikes Peak. However, the rangers have emergency water in jugs if you need it.

Getting home is hardest. I followed the water and it worked pretty well for me. So when I was heading down and I came to the big sloping field (sawtooth on my left, and the Evans trail turning to my right) I cut straight down the watershed. I had to do some rock hopping to keep my boots dry. There is a little trail that follows the stream down the steep section. When I got to the bottom, I cut left to the high ground (my feet were soaked at this point). I traversed around the bottom of Bierstadt, frequently bushwacking. I eventually connected with the Bierstadt trail, and enjoyed a nice stroll for the last 25 minutes of the hike. Overall time 7:10.

Authors note: I am looking for 14er partners who like to walk hard. Based out of C Springs.

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