Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  05/29/2011
Modified:  05/30/2011
Date Climbed:   05/27/2011
Author:  shepherdoak

 Bierstadt West Slopes  

With it being Memorial day weekend and all it was time for some camping, and fortuitously a few friends had already planned to camp out on BLM land just south of Jefferson, so I decided to make a run at Mt. Bierstadt. Driving up to Guanella Pass on Saturday morning, I wasn't sure what to expect as far as being able to make it all the way to the trailhead, but I borrowed my friend's Wrangler just in case the road conditions were still dodgy. Turns out that was an unnecessary precaution, as the road has been fully plowed between Grant and Guanella Pass. I was planning on making a solo attempt, but I was joined last minute by a friend and her dog (who had yet to attempt a 14er).

The weather could not have cooperated any better. The sun shone throughout the whole hike(which, in combination with the full snow coverage, unfortunately has lead to my worst sun burn ever). We were on the trail by 7:30, and at the summit by 10:15(with a very tired, but still enthusiastic dog). The snow was solid on the ascent and snowshoe tracks gave several options for the approach, making snowshoes unnecessary(note that this was not the case on the decent). We chose to follow the standard route, which winds up the ridges, rather than following the path that looks more like a straight shot to the summit. I had no complaints with this choice. The trail was fairly busy, which should be expected on Memorial day weekend, but we were able to have the summit to ourselves for 15 minutes before heading back down.

The snow had begun to soften, which allowed us to cut some of the downhike by sitting down and sliding. By the time we hit the willows the snow had softened significantly, and snowshoes were necessary, unless you have a thing for sinking to your waist slush and diving your feet into a frigid underground river of snowmelt. My last-minute addition hadn't brought snowshoes, so I lent her mine and she lead the way, packing the snow as best she could with every step. We made it back to the trailhead at 12:25 and I joyously pulled off my soaked socks and boots, exchanging them for a pair of down camp slippers.

The mountains are still beautifully snow-capped and the weather is warm enough to enjoy their views, so if you're thinking about getting out there; get out there.

P.S. There are a few nice panorama's here, whose dimensions were too large to put on, enjoy.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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