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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-04-11||Route: West Slopes
Info: Beware the snowshoe tracks! The road from Naylor Lake to Guanella Pass is tracked and consolidated enough we didn’t need snowshoes. It was mostly snow covered with a few blown bare spots. When we did Bierstadt about 2 months ago the trail from the summer parking lot to above the willows was well tracked, consolidated and easy to follow. Unfortunately there are now several snowshoe tracks that blast through the willows with big postholes that completely ignore the summer trail route. The problem is, people are following the obvious snowshoe tracks across the willows on routes that will never completely consolidate because of the willows. This is simulating the pre-boardwalk well established trail days! So your best course is to sharpen your eyes and try to identify the trail – because that is where the continuous line of consolidated snow is. We were able to find the trail on the return the whole way from the top of the willows to Scott Gomer Creek. From Scott Gomer Creek back to the Guanella Pass it was more of a challenge, but we managed to be on the trail about half the way. You will get good Karma if you help reestablish the trail! Used a pole. Had MicroSpikes along but didn’t use them. The snow was frozen in the morning when we followed the snowshoe tracks on bad routes. In the afternoon we avoided postholing by sniffing out the consolidated trail. For much of the way our’s were the only fresh tracks on the actual trail. As MissH said the cloudy skies much of the day helped.
|2015-04-11||Route: West Slopes
Info: Brought snowshoes and spikes - wore each of them for just a few minutes but it was good to be prepared. The snow was well-packed and even hard (not icy, just hard/compacted) on the ridge in places making kick-stepping and glissading challenging in some places. Due to party cloudy skies and below-freezing temperatures, the snow didn‘t get slushy until the very end, which is why snowshoes were mostly an accessory today. Just a bit of potholing occurred in afternoon, about 1 out of 20-30 steps, (but sometimes 2 in a row and thigh-high!) so I didn‘t want to stop to put the snowshoes on at that point. Spikes helped with kick steps and traction higher up where the snow was hard. If temps get warmer, make sure to bring those snowshoes.
|2015-03-31||Route: West Slopes
Info: Bring the snowshoes on this hike, and use them!!! I started at 10 am and ditched the snowshoes. I crawled like a dog on the way out. Other than that it was a great climb.
|2015-03-21||Route: West Slopes
Info: There were several people who successfully summited but my crew had to turn around at 13,200. First of all, prepare to add another 1.5 miles to the beginning and end of your trip because the road is closed and you can‘t drive all the way to the trail head. It‘s not a bad walk it just eats away at your time so be prepared. Second thing, you need snow shoes. My group did not have them and it was miserable. We had a little guy with us who weighed 130 pounds and he generally did okay most of the way because he wasn‘t heavy enough to fall through the snow. But any heavier than that needs snow shoes for sure. If we had some then we would have successfully made the summit. We could have made the summit without them but we expended too much energy. So if you want to try it without snowshoes then prepare for a long day and a good workout. Around the 12.5K mark you don‘t really need snow shoes anymore; you can get away with just wearing crampons or relying on your poles. The snow is well packed but the grade is too steep and you might want more traction. I could have made it with the traction I had but I was already so tired from the first 4 miles of the hike because I fell through the snow down to my waste with almost every step. Don‘t forget about the way down either, without the proper equipment it was almost just as miserable. The snow didn‘t care if we were going up or down the mountain, we still fell through. All in all, great views at 13k and the trip was still worth it. This was my first winter summit attempt and I was foolish to try it without the right gear. It was a beautiful way to learn a lesson. Have fun!
|2015-03-15||Route: West Slopes
Info: Very well-packed trail from the road closure up to the general vicinity of the trailhead. From there, there are multiple trenches leading across the willows area to the slope that accesses the ridge. The last several hundred feet to the summit has more shallow snow with plenty of rocks; watch your steps and be careful with your snowshoes. All trenches are nicely packed. We all had snowshoes, and it was smooth sailing well into the hot afternoon. If I didn‘t have snowshoes, I would still give it a go, but I would make sure to be off that mountain early before it warms up too much to limit the possibility of willow suffering.
|2015-03-07||Route: West Slopes
Info: Great snowmobile track up the road from the closure at Guanella Pass campground (Georgetown side), a few shortcuts through the trees are trenched out too. On the actual mountain, there is a great trench to about 12,700, and above that spikes were fine. Flotation is necessary from the summer TH to about 12,500 or 13,000, especially in the afternoon. Congrats to the couple from Atlanta who got their first 14er up there today, and apologies to the party of three who thought I was SurfNTurf, sorry to disappoint.
|2015-02-14||Route: West Slopes
Info: From Grant side of Guanella Pass. Road clear until about 400 meters before Duck Lake turn-off and winter gate. Possible to drive another 200 meters but then there is a large drift blocking the road. Did not use snowshoes. Used MicroSpikes and a pole. Snow is wind blown. Many bare spots. Packed trail across the willows. Icy in places. Got soft in the afternoon. The road had some deeper snow but was mostly consolidated.
|2015-01-31||Route: West Slopes
Info: The road to Guanella Pass was closed a couple miles prior to the trailhead. The valley / gully / marsh area between the trailhead and base of the mountain had deep snow. We should have had snowshoes but made it with microspikes only. We started at 0630 and summitted around 1130. My main point is be well prepared for the snow.
|2015-01-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: Great conditions, though not much use for snowshoes. Summitted around 10:30 AM. Road in good condition too. Should have brought fat bike.
|2015-01-17||Route: West Slopes
Info: Road from winter closure to trailhead was loosely packed snow ~2-3 inches. Would not recommend taking any of the off-road shortcuts that cut out the switchbacks without skis; snow drifts were waist deep and we sunk in. Additionally, stick to the footprints on the road; I tried cutting corners and ended up waist-deep again. Initial part of the trail from the trailhead was hard-packed snow, easy to walk on, but about halfway to the "base" of the mountain the deep snow started. At least 3 ft deep (crotch-high in places) and incredibly energy-draining to trudge through without snowshoes. About 100-200 meters of these conditions; snowshoes are a necessity. The deep snow ends where the switchback up to the ridge starts, from there it‘s loosely packed snow again. Winds were strong at this point, despite barely feeling a breeze on the previous part of the hike. I couldn‘t estimate, but forecasts had an advisory for 50+mph wind gusts. We ended up turning around at the ridge due to the intimidating wind and weariness from deep snow. Overall, we encountered 13 other hikers on the trail; 5 turned around at the deep snow, 3 turned around at the ridge due to wind, 4 summited around noon, and 1 was on his way up ahead of us (we assume he made it). That makes 5/15 (that we know of) summited on the 17th. My husband and I are in our 20‘s, just moved out to Colo Sprgs in Dec and had not previously attempted a 14er. Most of our experience is limited to 5000-6000 ft-ers on the east coast in fall, spring and summer, so we definitely fall in the beginner category for both winter hiking and 14ers. Gear we used: soft shell jacket/pants, multiple insulating layers, hat, mittens, neck gaiters, microspikes, waterproof hiking boots. We wish we would have had: snowshoes (!), balaclava, ski goggles, trekking poles. Additionally, beware of the heavy traffic on 70W for weekend skiers. We weren‘t expecting it, and it set us back a few hours. Hope this helps!
|2015-01-10||Route: West Slopes
Info: Parked at winter closure south of Georgetown, well packed snow on road to summer TH, down to bare pavement just before TH. Well packed snow (with occasionally bare spots) the entire way to summit. Wore microspikes car to car, and partner went without spikes much of the way. Snowshoes were not needed.
|2015-01-07||Route: West Slopes
Info: I hiked Bierstadt yesterday from the winter closure. From the winter closure Guanella Pass Road and trail until 12,000 feet is hard packed snow, so snowshoes are very helpful for traction and for returning through the willows. In the afternoon the snow gets really soft. I left my snowshoes at 12,000 feet because it was all blowing snow and icy spots. The last 200 feet to the summit on the ridge, "you find your way".
|2014-11-30||Route: West Slopes
Info: The trail was easy to follow until the upper slopes (50-70%), at which point choosing the most direct line is probably most efficient. The path and the upper slopes were hard pack on account of the wind, which on this day, was very consistent and strong.
|2014-11-11||Route: West Slopes
Info: Guanella Road was open all the way to the Bierstadt Trailhead. The thermometer in my car read 8 degrees when I arrived at the trailhead at 9:30 am. There were two to four inches of fresh snow in the willows, but above the willows it was mostly wind blown hard crust. The trail was in good condition the whole way up, although between 13,400 and 13,600 feet the trail was a little hard to follow and I ended up going too far south (I‘ve never been on this trail before). Wind started to pick up once I hit the south ridge, I estimate the wind speed to be around 30-40 mph (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/info/wind.php. My dog Polar, even with four legs, couldn‘t walk in a straight line. There are some icy spots near the summit, but nothing you can‘t walk around. I brought ice axe and microspikes, but didn‘t need to use either. Trekking poles were super helpful though when the wind started to knock you around. When I got back to my car at the trailhead at 2 pm, the thermometer read 22 degrees. But when I drove down to Georgetown it went down to 9 degrees. I thought that was interesting.
|2014-11-05||Route: West Slopes
Info: I did Mt. Bierstadt yesterday, in general there is not much snow on the mountains. Trail was hard packed snow until about 12,000 feet. About 12,000 to to 13,300 feet some 2-4 inches of fresh snow. From 13,300 feet to the summit some places between 4 inches to a foot, with a thick layer of ice underneath. Micro-spikes would be great! Here are some pictures from yesterday: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n99j8eg151hgtw8/AABCHciS7CuiPBvzVT2G_bLIa?dl=0
|2014-10-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: The conditions have not changed much since the last report. There was minimal snow until around 12,000 feet. There were some snow drifts that were ankle deep as we got closer to the summit, but nothing deeper than that. It was not particularly icy, either. We had no spikes or hiking poles and felt 100% fine. I was in running shoes, my partner in simple hiking boots. It was a bit windy at the summit but still quite warm.
|2014-10-18||Route: West Slopes
Info: Similar to the previous post. No snow until roughly 12,000 feet and then mostly patchy, hard-packed snow in several places along the trail. Snow covers the route in several places making route finding a little more difficult. Not a big deal on the weekend though. Very warm conditions. Several hikers in tank tops. Used micro-spikes on the way down, but not entirely necessary.
|2014-10-15||Route: West Slopes
Info: Did Mt. Bierstadt today. Trail was snow-free until about 12,000 feet. About 12,000 to the summit the trail is hard snow-packed. Micro-spikes would be great!
|2014-10-05||Route: West Slopes
Info: Dry under 12k ft, used micro spikes above 12,500, not must have but made it so much easier and were the envy of many hikers. Super windy day... Bring layers, protect head and hands.
|2014-10-04||Route: West Slopes
Info: Perfect day for my first 14er. Started at 8:10. Parking lot was nearly full. Once we were in the snow above the willows, the wind was pretty consistent and frigid. Skies were completely clear and views spectacular. On the descent, some areas in the willows had thawed and gotten a bit muddy. That was around noon.