Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  06/20/2006
Date Climbed:   06/18/2006
Author:  trailwerks
 Mt. Bierstadt, The Sawtooth, Mt. Evans  

I left the trailhead at the top of Guanella Pass shortly before 6:00 am and headed up Mt. Bierstadt on the standard trail. I reached the summit in less than two hours and after a short break for photos and a snack, descended down toward The Sawtooth.
The view of The Sawtooth is impressive as you drop down the north side of Mt. Bierstadt.

The descent from Bierstadt is fairly steep but the rock is fairly stable. I could not discern any established route but ran across footprints here and there as I dropped toward the saddle.
View of Mt. Bierstadt from the saddle on The Sawtooth. I dropped down just left (as viewed) of the snow field.

I made my way to the lowest notch and eventually found a few cairns. There are multiple paths along the east side of the ridge leading to where the route crosses over to the west face of The Sawtooth. I stayed as high as I could and enjoyed the scrambling on the huge fractured slabs.
This excellent view of Abyss Lake presents itself just before crossing through the notch to the west side of The Sawtooth.

Crossing over to the west side of The Sawtooth (exactly as per Bill's excellent route photos), the nature of the route changes dramatically. The route follows a significant ledge system and climbs up through several loose areas. I soon was back on the top of the ridgeline in open tundra and set off toward the ridgeline leading to Mt. Evans. As the tundra necks down to the narrow ridgeline, I hiked toward a prominent cairn which, in turn, leads to a clear trail that stays to the right (south) of the ridgeline. This trail undulates up and down but stays at a fairly constant elevation for better than half a mile. It is very tempting to head up to the left but the true summit isn't visible until you near the end of the ridge. The trail finally joins up with the broad "sidewalk" coming up from the parking lot. The summit was crowded with a constant flow of people enjoying a fine summit on Father's Day!
A view of Mt. Bierstadt and the long ridgeline leading to Mt. Evans from the Mt. Evans Summit.

I backtracked my way along the ridgeline but needed a route that would take me back to the parking lot at Guanella Pass. The Gomer Gulch route looked steep and loose so I sought an alternate route. I contoured my way into the drainage between Mt. Spalding and Gray Wolf Mountain. Once in the drainage, the descent is steep but the grass was soft and springy underfoot. I dropped down the drainage until the gully pinches down right where the willow thickets start. I crossed to the west side of the creek and contoured almost straight west until I was above a small lake. I made my way down to the lake and found a significant trail on the west side of the lake.
This view of Mt. Bierstadt and The Sawtooth is seen from the small lake where I picked up a trail back to the parking lot.

I was able to follow this trail almost all the way back to the parking lot. It did disappear into the morass of the infamous willows but the resulting blind bash through the head high bushes was less than a hundred yards in length. I headed toward a short trail segment that I could see climbing a steep bank and regained the boardwalk fifty yards to the left. I got back to the truck around 1:00 pm.
The weather was simply spectacular all day with bright blue skies giving way to a few puffy white clouds to add a little variety by the time I reached the parking lot. An excellent way to start the summer 14er season!

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