Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  07/09/2007
Date Climbed:   07/06/2007
Author:  jvk185
 Bierstadt/Evans combo route  

What we do for fun to celebrate our wedding anniversary each year is spending time together, preferably hiking up 14ers. We had looked at the Bierstadt-Evans combo and decided that was this year's goal.

We started our hike a bit later than we had hoped to, and unfortunately, had to wait an additional 30 minutes before the construction crew allowed us to drive up to the parking lot. The lot was about half full when we arrived, and we began our trip at 7:00 a.m. Image

It was a beautiful morning as we headed up, and we had high hopes of achieving our goal of the Bierstadt-Sawtooth-Evans combo. I have to mention Sawtooth, because, after all, that is what put a lot of the "interest" into this day. Image

We easily made our way up Bierstadt, and reached the summit in by 8:45 a.m. We didn't hang around much, and with trip route in hand, began to look for the next goal"Sawtooth. We traveled about 200 yards down the boulder field and decided to take a food break. We stared intently at what lie ahead of us, and knew that once we started, we really had to commit to it all the way.This is the view looking at the Sawtooth route. Image

The boulder field was a bear to cross. I don't think we ever really saw a trail, and the snow was too mushy to cross or glissade, so we headed down to a point were there was the least snow and a few boulders to scramble on to get across. It was tricky, and could be an ankle bitter, if you weren't careful, but we managed to get through it without incident. This is the view of the boulder field. Image

Next, before us lie the class 3 portion of the hike. Good thing my husband has long legs, I am limber and we both are in pretty good shape because we probably would not have made it otherwise. It also helped that we've done a bit of rock wall climbing, so you know what to look and feel for when going up. Once we got to the top of that portion, we were all smiles and high-5ing each other for getting through it. Looking back down made it seem more difficult than it felt going up. Here is a view of the vertical wall that needs to be climbed. Image

We continued around the corner and saw the scree-to-the-bottomless-pit lie before us. Actually, it was not too difficult if you stayed close to the big rocks. It was more of a mental challenge than a physical one. You turn the corner at the top, and head up to the Sawtooth ridge. Stay close to the rock wall, and it's not too bad. Image

That part of the trip seemed like coasting at that point. The hardest part was finding a trail. We just kept traveling in the direction of Evans until we began to see the cairns. Once we began to see them, it was very helpful. Although this was a relative "breeze," it seemed to go on forever. Image

We finally made it to Evans at about 2:00 p.m. That's really late to be up there, and thankfully, it was a beautiful day, without any rain at all. If the day had been worse weather-wise we would not have taken our time to get there.

Now, I have to stop to say a word about the tourists up at Evans. I knew they would be annoying, I knew it was going to be frustrating, and I knew I did not want anyone to think I was one of them. I'm happy that people who cannot physically make the trip get the chance to see the beauty and feel the altitude, but it's the other ones that make you want to smack them silly. There was this one guy who stood on the tallest rock, rolled out some kind of homemade victory flag and had his son take his picture, exclaiming, "well, there's another one I can check off my list." What list? The "I Drove All The Way Up To" list? My husband asked him a rhetorical question, "did you hike up here?" It was obvious he hadn't, but he just chuckled and said, "no," and went on his way, flag in hand. At least it was good for a laugh"and still is. We didn't really want to, but went down to the bathrooms down by the parking lot, and got some extra water from the kind forest service employee.

We then high-tailed it out of there and began our trek down. It went a lot quicker down, except for the times we had to get pictures of the goats, which seemed to be following us, then leading us, then following us. Image

Soon afterwards we began to go down the gulley.

It seemed pretty tame, not much snow, but it gradually became steeper. We kept taking the trail map out and looking at the pictures, and eventually made our way to the left side of the gulley. We were beginning to feel the toll on our knees as we continued down. We went a long way until we finally spotted a trail. Steep scree is not my friend, so it was slow going, with a few out of control skids"at least for me. Image

We could see the valley below, picked out the willow crossing, and saw the parking lot in the distance. It made us feel like we were almost there. NOT! As we crossed the meadow, we heard some coyotes howling wildly. Our pace then quickened a bit. There were several steep descents left until we got to the valley. Image

We took what would be our last picture on film, but not the last in our minds at this point. Did anyone describe the willows? We stayed high, and went through so much willow, it was unbelievable. We kept going higher to avoid the mud, but the parking lot seems to get farther away and the sun further down by then.

My allergies began to kick in pretty good with the willows taller than me (5'6") all around. Where was the real trail? We bushwhacked for what seemed like eternity until we finally found the Bierstadt trail. I almost broke into tears, but also was rejoicing, because I knew the way back from there and I felt like we'd just hit the freeway, and we were the only ones on it.

We celebrated our wedded bliss on a course much like life"easy and hard stuff, but sticking together and getting through it together as a team. (insert aaaaaah)

I guess this is just another one we can check off our list.

My wife wrote the trip report for the important part of the hike, so I'll add my impressions of the route. The hike to Bierstadt is very easy. The part that includes Sawtooth to Evans and back down to the parking lot is brutal.

You need to plan on plenty of time to do both(A whole day). We didn't start early enough to give us enough margin of safety. It took us about 13 hours to finish the whole trip. You will spend at least at two hours of hiking above 14 thousand feet to get to Evans, and then start your descent. Luckily the forest service gave us the water we needed to finish the trek.

The climb to the Sawtooth was technical, and I'm glad we had some rock wall climbing experience. If you're not comfortable with climbing up technical class 4 rock walls, you may turn back when you get to the Sawtooth climb.

When you get to the valley leading down to the parking lot, don't be fooled by seeing your car in the parking lot. The descent from Evans down to the willows was long and hard on the knees. It took us at least 2 hours to descend and bushwhack through the willows to get to the Bierstadt trail. Our hike was almost identical to the trip report written on 6-30 by krz2fer, and I'm glad we read that report to mentally prepare us for the day.

Thanks for your advice, and because of it, we took plenty of water and food. I drank 100 oz. of water to get to Evans, and then we both filled up at the visitor's center with 70 oz. of more water. I'm going to write a thank you not to the Forest service, because they kept us from getting dehydrated and sick. Without the refill at the top of Evans, we would have had a VERY hard time finishing the hike.

Start very early (before 6 am), to give yourself time to finish the hike. I'm glad we were able to do both summits in one day, but the summit at Evans is my least favorite of all 14'ers, due to the loud and obnoxious tourists and the long hike above 14,000 feet. It's a hike we're glad we completed, but I will not be making a repeat trip to Evans in the near future.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

11/30/2010 17:20
Gotta love 'em! Congratulations on the hike, as it's certainly a gratifying feeling of accomplishment when it's all said and done. I'm glad my report helped at least one hiking group.

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