Peak(s):  Rogers Pk  -  13,391 feet
Warren, Mt  -  13,307 feet
"West Evans" - 14,256 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Rosalie Pk  -  13,575 feet
Epaulet Mtn  -  13,523 feet
"Epaulie"  -  13,530 feet
Rosalie Pk  -  13,575 feet
Sawtooth, The  -  13,780 feet
Gray Wolf Mtn  -  13,602 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2019
Date Climbed:   08/17/2019
Author:  supranihilest
 Masochist's Delight: A Heavily Modified Evans Egis  

Evans Egis is a massive loop that bags one 12er, eight 13ers, and both 14ers in the Mount Evans Wilderness. In Colorado's Fourteeners Gerry Roach calls it "the big one," and in fact it is longer and has more elevation gain than any route in the book outside of the San Juan-based Chicago Basin 14er group. Most of the terrain on Evans Egis is easy Class 1 trail and Class 2 talus but the addition of Mount Bierstadt is Class 3, steep, and committing. I love huge days where the primary goal is to tick as many peaks as possible (read: be efficient with my time) with a secondary goal of wrecking myself silly, so Evans Egis satisfied both of those criteria. The drawback to choosing huge days is that the weather has to be perfect, especially if it involves scrambling, exposed ridges, and/or commitment, all of which are present on Evans Egis.

Because most people are only familiar with the Mount Evans road, the Bierstadt-Sawtooth-Evans traverse, and Evans' west ridge from Summit Lake, here's a brief overview of the entire route:
Starting at Echo Lake Park (10,580'), climb
Goliath Peak (12,216')
Rogers Peak (13,391')
Mount Warren (13,307')
drop down to Summit Lake (12,850') and climb
Mount Spalding (13,842')
"West Evans" (14,256', not optional according to Roach)
Mount Evans (14,264')
Epaulet Mountain (13,523')
"Epaulie" (13,530')
Rosalie Peak (13,575')
reverse course, drop down to Lake Fork (approximately 12,320'), and climb
Mount Bierstadt's east ridge (14,060')
drop down to the Sawtooth and reascend to its summit (13,780')
skirt or reascend Mount Spalding and climb
Gray Wolf Mountain (13,602')
drop down to either Summit Lake then to the Chicago Lakes Trail, or descend to the Chicago Lakes Trail directly, then hike back to Echo Lake

Here's a full mapping of it, including elevation profile:

19700_39
Mmm, yummy.

My day didn't work out quite exactly like that due to unexpected weather, which made it both less fun and more difficult, thus this route's "Masochist's Delight" moniker. On to the report itself!

Since Evans Egis is an extremely long route I would need to get an early start. I got up at 2:45 which was perhaps not early enough in theory (and proved to be true in practice) and was hiking by 4:40am, which included the drive from Louisville. Some guy knocked on my car window as I was getting ready and asked if I was going up Evans via Chicago Lakes, which I said yes to, mistakenly. He didn't want to be on the trail in the dark and alone, understandably. I told him I was going to be going up over Goliath and some 13ers en route, thinking it would be from the Chicago Lakes drainage, when it turns out that I needed to go the exact opposite direction as he did to start so he ended up hiking alone in the dark after all. Oops.

First order of the day: hike 12er Goliath Peak. Goliath isn't actually that big, either in height nor bulk, and it quickly fell after hiking in basically a straight line south from the Echo Lake Lodge across several road switchbacks. It was dark for most of this but the forest wasn't terribly dense or full of deadfall and I essentially just had to go in an uphill direction. I came across oodles of mushrooms along the way, which was the only redeeming quality to Goliath.

19700_01
Mu
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sh
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ro
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om

The view into the plains as the sun rose was quite nice, and I obviously had the summit to myself.

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A nice trail descended north off of Goliath to the road which I crossed then crawled up Rogers' false summit to the real summit.

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Down Goliath.
19700_07
Up Rogers.

The views of Evans from Rogers were stunning.

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Evans on the left, Mount Warren in the left foreground, Mount Spalding in center, Square Top Mountain in far background. The far right wall with all the towers extends off Gray Wolf Peak, which isn't visible in this photo.

A quick dip and hike up Mount Warren and I could finally see Summit Lake. I would need to descend off Warren to the lake where I'd finally pick up an actual trail to the summit of Evans. Unfortunately, I'd also join the hordes of people on the trail, who would go on to join the even greater hordes of people on the summit of Evans.

19700_09
Mount Evans west ridge from Summit Lake. Evans might have a road to the top but she's ferocious where she needs to be.
19700_10
Looking south towards Gray Wolf Peak (left skyline) and Chicago Lakes (bottom right). The towers and slabs are reminiscent of the Crestones.
19700_11
The trail begins in earnest at Summit Lakes, as do the crowds. Until this point I hadn't seen anybody else.

The trail on Spalding is actually kind of fun and requires a couple of Class 2+ moves to get up, which is always nice, and the views of Evans' northern aspects help too, but Evans' west ridge route from Summit Lake is nothing to write home about.

From the summit of Spalding the ridge drops down a little and then rises dramatically in a series of broken granite slabs and knife edge ridges. Despite that, the trail continues along below the ridge of the crest on Class 2 terrain. Evans has an unranked subsummit with 116 feet of prominence called "West Evans" that's about two thirds of the way along the ridge, closer to Evans as opposed to the Spalding-Evans saddle. I decided to traverse basically the entire ridge which goes at Class 3/Class 4 depending on the exact line through the slabs and boulders. None of it is particularly exposed but you could make it so if you wanted. It's far more enjoyable than the trail, that's for sure, and both times I've done it now I've found myself to be the only person on the ridge crest. I doubt most people know or care about "West Evans".

19700_12
Some scrambling but nothing crazy.

Though this was the middle summit of the day it was not the midpoint of the route. I still had a ton to go, and Rosalie Peak, three peaks and still miles away, was closer to the middle point distance wise. From the summit of Evans I had to drop back onto the road where I cut the numerous switchbacks en route to Epaulet Mountain.

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Meander in that general direction.

I got good views of Bierstadt's east ridge, where I'd be in a few hours, and ran into some mountain goats on my way to the saddle.

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East ridge of Bierstadt, to the left.
19700_15
Friends.

Eventually I hit the last switchback and dropped down towards the start of the Tour de Abyss - Bierstadt east ridge to Sawtooth to Evans - but continued up Class 2 tundra and stone towards Epaulet Mountain.

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Epaulet Mountain's broad slopes.

Epaulet, "Epaulie", and Rosalie Peak are quite the opposite of the northern Evans area: big, wide open, and completely uninspiring. The best feature of these three 13ers was a funny looking stack of rocks near Epaulet's summit.

19700_17
Pagoda Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park is very clearly named incorrectly.

"Epaulie" didn't take much time or effort and probably should take over Epaulet's name considering it's actually the ranked summit of the two points on the same mountain, but hey, I'll stick another 13er feather in my cap. From "Epaulie" Rosalie came into view and seemed discouragingly far away; from Rosalie's summit I'd have to reverse the entire thing, wheee.

19700_18
Rosalie from "Epaulie".

All of the terrain from Evans to Rosalie (and then from Rosalie to Bierstadt's east ridge) was easy but boring and tedious given the distance and elevation gain and loss in between everything. I was also feeling tired by this point, nearly seven hours in. I lounged on the summit for about 25 minutes and gathered my energy. Still lots to go, including the most difficult scrambling of the day.

After my break I hiked back down to the Rosalie-"Epaulie" saddle, then cut across the tundra towards "Epaulie"'s southwest ridge, the ascent of which would then put me in Lake Fork drainage, where I'd join Bierstadt's east ridge. The ridge had some small outcroppings on it that looked more difficult from afar than they really were. Upon closer inspection I was able to find an easy break through the rocks and ledges.

19700_19
Straight up the middle then left of the outcrop.

On the opposite side of the ridge the terrain opened up again as it descended into the basin. I now had a choice: Bierstadt's east ridge, my original plan, or Bierstadt's southeast ridge, which until that point I didn't even know existed.

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The east ridge is dead in center, with the southeast ridge to the left and the Sawtooth to the right.
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Lake Fork. The east ridge ascends the right facing grassy slope, then up and down a couple of rocky points. Crossing the boulders wasn't as bad as it looks.

The former went at previously mentioned Class 3, and fun Class 3 at that, and the latter went at what looked like Class 2 for its entirety. I would have seriously considered the southeast ridge simply for the sake of doing a route I hadn't yet done but I couldn't see a good way to get to it. The visible part of the ridge's toe appeared to be guarded either by cliffs or steep, janky looking talus. Perhaps if I had gone around it to check out the other side but I didn't want to spend the time getting over there and scouting it. Bierstadt's east ridge was a known quantity, I had already done it once, and so I headed in that direction.

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The Sawtooth's "backside" from Lake Fork as opposed to Guanella Pass.
19700_23
Slopes up Bierstadt's east ridge. The route then scrambles over the three successively larger pyramids before mellowing out.

From the bottom of the drainage onward I noticed that clouds were constantly building and dissipating. Well then. I was a little discouraged by the weather. Had I really come all this way to get shutdown at the fun part? Whatever, I'd go as far as I could before it got nasty, if it did. It looked like I could skip the first two points on the ridge if I scrambled up to the right but it would be easier to start left and scramble over the points, so up the slope I went, dodging between the rocks.

I arrived at the top of the ridge and was "rewarded" with black clouds and high winds.

19700_24
Lovely to see after blasting 800' of the ridge. Not.

A few seconds after that, before I could even close the short distance between me and the scrambling, it began to dump graupel. And lots of it.

I sat on the ridge behind a rock to block the wind for 15 or 20 minutes. It was howling. The graupel had stopped but the clouds weren't going away. There wasn't any thunder but I didn't like the look of it and wanted to see how if it would change.

Spoiler alert: it did not.

A second round of graupel came about 17 minutes after the first.

At this point I was deterred from the scrambling. I didn't want to be up on it if it got wet or conditions worsened further. (They did.) That really sucked, since this was really the only fun part of the route. The last and only other time I did the east ridge it was a ton of fun and it was sad to skip it at this point, more than half way through Evans Egis. I could still complete my original goal - bag every Mount Evans Wilderness 13er - and I had already done the ridge, so I wouldn't have to return to it, but the route from this point to the Sawtooth was nasty, involving several thousand vert I wouldn't have to cover otherwise, significant amounts of it quite loose, and on terrain I'd mostly already done once today in the opposite direction.

Irritated, I turned around and descended back to Lake Fork, crossing to a large gully off the Mount Evans Road used mostly as an approach descent gully for the east ridge. It's steep and terribly loose but it was the only safe and timely way for me to return back to Evans.

It turned out to have been a good idea to turn around. The weather did not improve for the rest of the day, and I alternately got rained and graupeled on until evening.

19700_25
Taken at 3pm. It remained crappy for several more hours.

While the gully back up Evans wasn't enjoyable at least it wasn't a sketchfest like wet Class 3 slabs and ramps would have been, and I was able to get an eyeful of some interesting rocks and slabs usually hidden from most visitors.

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Good looking granite.
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Looking up the gully, with bizarre towers abound. This is the lower, easier part of the gully; most of it is loose dirt and talus.

The gully is probably 1,000 feet high and took me a good chunk of time to get up. I was running out of steam and had thousands of feet of vert, three thirteeners (including one reascent) and most of Mount Evans to reascend. From the top of the gully I reascended up the switchbacks nearly to Mount Evans' summit, then took the west ridge trail back to the Evans-Spalding saddle, where I cut left and climbed Class 2 grass, talus, and slabs to the "summit" of the Sawtooth.

19700_28
The Sawtooth with a bit of precip.
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A toothy grin.

It once again dumped graupel while I was up on the Sawtooth, which once again made me glad I wasn't scrambling up it instead.

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Now atop the Sawtooth I had just Spalding and Gray Wolf to go. I had set the GPS track to go around Spalding on the west side so I wouldn't have to gain its summit a second time but ultimately the trail was easier even if it went up over the top. I left the trail at the top of Spalding and headed directly north into more grass and talus. Gray Wolf was very far away and seemed to have a lot of elevation gain, and I was going incredibly slow by this point. I probably just needed to eat more but I was dragging badly.

Partway down Spalding it (you guessed it) started blasting graupel. At one point it got so bad I was in a total whiteout. I guess summer is over.

19700_31
Go away.

There really wasn't a whole lot to do though so I trudged towards Gray Wolf. Much to my dismay I found the terrain between Spalding and Gray Wolf to be full of little streams and soggy, marshy ground. My feet got wet and I didn't see any way to avoid it, so now my feet were going to be wet for the rest of the hike. The weather did clear up, fortunately, and I was warm once again, which helped my morale a lot. A short while later I was on top of Gray Wolf Mountain, thirteener number eight for the day.

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Looks exactly like a wolf to me, how about you?
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Summit of Gray Wolf Mountain.

Time to make the final descent back to my car, which was still miles away. I should have dropped down off the summit to Chicago Lakes immediately, but the north ridge of Gray Wolf was very obliging and less steep so that's the way I went.

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Chicago Lakes. I should have gone down here to the trail.
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Farther along the north ridge. I went along the right hand swell and crossed over into the trees.

Taking the north ridge turned out to be a mistake. Not a tremendous one, perhaps, but potentially. I still had sunlight but much of the ridge dropped down into cliffs and sizable slabs that were hidden until I got close to them, so I simply traversed and traversed on the ridge (on grass, mind you) in the hopes of finding some break in it somewhere. I was getting worried as darkness began to fall that I'd get stuck meandering around in a dark, cliff-filled forest while trying to find the trail. I finally noticed a break in the cliffs and wandered through copious deadfall before finding the trail.

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Extremely annoying deadfall, but finally a safe way down into the basin and the trail.
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Thank. God.

The trail was a very, very welcome sight, especially as it was nearly dark. What did I learn? Drop off Gray Wolf directly to Chicago Lakes and get on the trail there instead. That way there's no hoping you don't get stuck in cliffs forever, there's no deadfall, and all those miles scouting on the ridge can instead be done on good, solid, and better yet fast trail.

Most of the rest of the hike was straightforward. It was long though and I didn't know there was nearly 1,000 feet of elevation still to gain to get back to Echo Lake. The trail took me past the Idaho Springs Reservoir which was beautiful in the calm, fading light.

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I arrived at the car a little after 9pm, utterly exhausted but happy to have finished such an enormous undertaking. I might have had to modify the original plan significantly and miss out on the scrambling highlight of the route but I still accomplished everything I actually set out to do, which was fantastic. I almost couldn't believe how well it went given the size of the day. I drove back to Boulder and had a beer, burger, fries, and chicken fingers at my favorite bar with late night kitchen, Dark Horse. I ate enough to feel sick.

It was worth it.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Total distance: 29.08 miles
Total elevation gain: 11,484 feet
Total time: 16:39:26
Peaks: One 14er (plus bonus unranked 14er subsummit), eight 13ers (five ranked, three unranked), one 12er

  • Goliath Peak, 12,216'
  • Rogers Peak, 13,391'
  • Mount Warren, 13,307'
  • Mount Spalding, 13,842' (unranked)
  • "West Evans" 14,256' (unranked)
  • Mount Evans, 14,264'
  • Epaulet Mountain, 13,523' (unranked)
  • "Epaulie", 13,530'
  • Rosalie Peak, 13,575'
  • The Sawtooth, 13,780' (unranked)
  • Gray Wolf Mountain, 13,602'

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Echo Lake Park Goliath Peak 1:00:22 1:00:22 0:00
Goliath Peak Rogers Peak 1:07:16 2:07:38 0:00
Rogers Peak Mount Warren 0:33:36 0:56:05 0:00
Mount Warren Mount Spalding 0:56:05 3:37:09 0:00
Mount Spalding "West Evans" 0:45:05 4:22:15 0:00
"West Evans" Mount Evans 0:15:50 4:38:05 0:00
Mount Evans Epaulet Mountain 0:58:54 5:36:59 0:00
Epaulet Mountain "Epaulie" 0:16:24 5:53:23 0:00
"Epaulie" Rosalie Peak 0:49:41 6:43:04 25:41
Rosalie Peak Bottom of Bierstadt's East Ridge 1:43:45 8:52:30 0:00
Bottom of Bierstadt's East Ridge Beginning of Bierstadt's East Ridge Scrambling 0:36:02 9:28:32 16:39
Beginning of Bierstadt's East Ridge Scrambling The Sawtooth (via Evans' west ridge, not Bierstadt) 2:40:06 12:25:18 0:00
The Sawtooth Gray Wolf Peak 1:31:22 13:56:40 0:00
Gray Wolf Peak Echo Lake Park 2:42:46 16:39:26 Trip End

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




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39


 Comments or Questions
Jay521

OMG
08/27/2019 15:18
Wow....


supranihilest

Wow!
08/27/2019 15:38
@Jay: This is probably my biggest day in the mountains yet!


Jay521

No doubt....
08/27/2019 16:17
And it would take me at least 3 days to do what you did. What do you eat for breakfast? I gotta get me some of that! LOL!


supranihilest

Poptarts
08/27/2019 22:16
@Jay: Pretty sure I ate a packet of chocolate chip Poptarts. It's my go-to fast and easy breakfast on some mountain days. Breakfast of champions! Haha!


Trotter

Gray wolf
08/27/2019 21:38
Its slightly less soggy if you stay right at the cliff edge, on the east side of the open area. It took me 3 different trips to get those peaks though


supranihilest

Sparing the Sog
08/27/2019 22:14
@Trotter: Ah, thanks for the beta! Fortunately the wet feet were merely an annoyance, but if I ever do Gray Wolf again I'll stay higher. In hindsight that makes perfect sense, I just went in a straight line and was too tired to have thought about keeping to higher ground.



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