Start Time: 6:10 AM
End Time: 1:06 PM
Total Time: 6:54 Hours
Distance: 7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3200ft
Members of this trip include myself and my friend Boris. This expedition spawned out of Boris's interest to take on a more challenging climb after we experimented with some class IV rock on Long's Peak a couple week's back.
We read that this is more of a difficult class III as well as being revered as a pretty difficult physical accomplishment to tackle in general. This sparked our interest, as well as the relatively accessible TH for us FOCO folks.
After the incredible 0% T-storm / precipitation forecast, we decided it was just "too good" of a day to pass up. We parked at the appropriate switchback and hit the trail at 6:10 AM.
Trail leading to descent gully
The gully was very pleasant to descend and we finished it in about 20 minutes.
The hike across to the base of Bierstadt's east ridge was similarly pleasant, and I was happy to be able to filter water at the stream.
The plow up to the ridge proper is a bit of a workout, but it is only 800' and done before you know it.
Gaining Bierstadt's East Ridge
Next we quickly scaled the first two gendarmes.
The third gendarme is the place where we really got the party started. This is also known as Point 13,641. We ended up on class 5 rock.
Third (hard) Gendarme
Before the critics have their heyday: We intentionally decided to take the Class 5 route to challenge ourselves. It was a decision that we made before coming and again calculated the risk after seeing it in person.
While this section was indeed "class 5" it is mostly a low class 5. We did go a bit below the ridge to the right, but quickly regained the ridge. The climbing certainly was scary, but we were certain to spend a good amount of time and caution to prevent an amygdala hijack.
After the relatively technical climbing required to ascend 13,641, we were on uber-cautious mode for the rest of the ascent to Bierstadt, where we took a break to get a which wich photo.
Our plan of return was the sawtooth. The descent to the saddle was less miserable for me this time because we stayed tight to the east side of the ridge.
Sawtooth and Evans
Once we got to the "sawteeth" we quickly scaled the first one, again staying pretty close to the ridge. On the large spike before the switch to the west side we discovered there are two ways: a pretty steep class III / IV climb up the final gendarme or a more lengthy skirt around to the East.
The ledges of the Sawtooth were a bit exposed but class II hiking. There were some pretty scared hikers on their hands and knees crawling that we walked past; I hope they were okay!
Up on the Evans ridge we soon joined the Mount Spalding trail and headed on up to Evans.
On this trail is the only place besides the busy summits that we saw any other hikers. There were many hikers enjoying the great weather.
We got to the summit of Evans, took some more which wich pics, and head down to our car. The tourists were going gaga over the mountain goats near the bathrooms.
Mountain goats and line for the bathroom
We arrived at the car and headed into my place in Golden to print the photos. Finally, we showed up to which wich to claim our free sandwiches. The cashier legitimately thought we were lying about climbing 2 14ers and showing up before 3 PM.
No new 14ers for me, but this does put me at 30 mountain summits above 13,000' for me this season, with a total of 81850' elevation gain. Hopefully I can pick up the pace a little in the remaining summer weeks to top 100k by the end of the season.
This was a great hike and a proud addition to my climbing resume. I'm glad to have been able to do some short/easy class 5 climbing and push my limits. Boris returns to Georgia soon so it was great to get out and do one final classic Colorado climb with him.
Really interesting route that will get you away from the swarms on these 2 great peaks. As others have stated, it's not a good introductory class III route, but if you have such experience and are willing to take the time to be safe on the ridge it's a worthwhile experience!