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 Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
 Post Date:  12/11/2011
 Date Climbed:   12/10/2011
 Posted By:  dillonsarnelli
 Additional Members:   MtnChick

 Don't Follow These Guys... Evans - West Ridge from Guanella Pass   

Note: Guanella Pass Road on the north side is gated at the Naylor Lake TH parking lot, so I think we added a couple of miles each way to get to the G Pass TH.

“Where are the cairns?” This was the question of the day. It was evident that no one had hiked this route since the snow began to fall this season. The only tracks we saw all day, after leaving the trail to Bierstadt, were those of deer and the Guanella Pass monster.

This trip had a little bit of everything. It started with a lunar eclipse and ended with a full moon. The summit felt like summer, the gully felt like Alaska. At times we were post-holing in 5 feet of snow, while on the ridge we had to take off our miscrospikes and jackets.

Mandy Miller (MtnChick) and I set out at about 7:30 AM from the jeep (note my camera is still on Daylight Savings Time so it’s an hour off) and hiked up the road to the Guanella Pass TH. Easy hike… About 45 minutes later we were at the Guanella Pass TH.


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the gate on the road at the parking lot


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the Sawtooth and Bierstadt as seen from the road


Seeing how little snow there was at the top of the gully and on the ridges and thinking they would be useless against the willow! , we left the snowshoes in the car. We also figured down low there had to be someone who had broken the trail in front of us. No such luck. In fact there is NO trail in the winter once you leave the Bierstadt Trail – the very heavily used snowpacked Bierstadt Trail I might add!

So we became trail blazers…meandering through the willows, trying to avoid the thin ice over the swamp, staying as close to the creek as possible (when we could see it) without falling in. We figured the creek would take us to the base of the gully which it eventually did.

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breaking trail



At the base of the gully we found our first cairn! We stayed to the far left in the gully all the way to the top of the ridge to avoid the deep snow and ice in the middle. We’d figure out on the way back the actual route goes thru the center of the gully, which is why we didn’t see another cairn until we were on the ridge.
Imageright before it fell on Mandy's head


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I like rocks


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looking down on the gully


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Mandy approaching the top of the gully

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class 5?

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Once out of the gully everything opens up. Its more like a boulderfield. Spalding is on the left, the Sawtooth is on the right and the west ridge of Mt Evans comes into sight dead center.

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nearing the top of the gully


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out of the gully, you can see the tip of West Evans in the center




We struggled to find the next cairn because we were so far to the left of West Evans, near Spalding. Knowing this, we broke right and headed for the right side of West Evans where we eventually began to find all the cairns. Here we took off our microspikes. The snow and ice had all but disappeared and it felt more like summer than December.

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West Evans and Evans in the distance from the left




Here we ran into my buddy the goat, or sheep as Mandy would correct me. I think I also like to call cairns, - pilons. Still learning…

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this is where i asked Mandy if it was going to eat me


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it didn't even move




We skirted the side of the ridge. The summit of West Evans could be seen up the rocks on our left. We headed out over the side of the ridge for about a mile. The road and building at the top of Mount Evans come into view. I think here is where I said “I’m really glad there are no 15ers in Colorado” and Mandy said “I wonder what our route would look like from an airplane?”

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Mandy on the ridge




Once on the summit we took some pictures, ate some food and then packed up. We knew we had to get back down that gully before dark.

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Summit of Mount Evans - Elevation 14,264 - December 10, 2011

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Summit of Mount Evans - Elevation 14,264 - December 10, 2011

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Summit of Mount Evans - Elevation 14,264 - December 10, 2011




The road is closed to the summit of Evans in the winter so I would recommend conquering Evans on foot this time of year. The only other people we saw all day were the stick figures on top of Bierstadt.

We made our way back across the ridge to the top of the gully. My goat was gone by now.
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about to renter the gully




Once at the gully we decided to follow the cairns down the middle, through the snow. It took all of 2 seconds to realize I was going down glissading style where I could. After a little egging, Mandy followed.

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is this how i walk?

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the snow is up to Mandy's waist




Once we eventually hit the bottom of the gully, we found our tracks. This is good and bad. It was almost dark so we needed to follow them, but at the same time, they were all over the map! A little delirious and cold, you could hear us grumbling to ourselves" Who makes tracks like these" at least every ten minutes.

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night is falling

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As darkness fell, the full moon began to rise like a spotlight over the Sawtooth. It was awesome!

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full moon


All in all, a great day. Where's the beer?



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
MtnChick


Two strangers and a gully!!!     2011-12-11 13:11:03
You are no longer a TR virgin...and I am no longer a 14ers meetup virgin!! Was it good for you??

Seriously, great report and great adventure!! If only the gift shop was open...it would have been nice to get a better souvenir than these AWFUL pics...


Oso Blanco


Awesome Summit Pose!     2011-12-11 14:12:54
Looked like a fun hike on a great sunny day!


RJansen77


Great job guys!     2011-12-11 15:17:57
Having descended that route in July I can't imagine what it would be like in snow season. There's nothing like a good posthole session to make you realize how great every other climb where you don't posthole really is.


SurfNTurf


Cherry popped     2011-12-11 18:19:22
Nice first TR, Dillon. Evans is a worthy objective this time of year. Let's get out again soon.



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