Mt. Bierstadt - West Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
Ski: Intermediate, D3 / R1 / II
|Total Gain:||2,850 feet|
|RT Length:||7.00 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Evans|
|County Sheriff:||Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
|National Forests:||Arapaho, Pike|
|Wilderness Area:||Mount Evans|
From the north: Take the Georgetown exit off of Interstate 70. Drive through Georgetown and follow the signs for the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. Drive 12 miles to the top of Guanella Pass (11,700') and park in one of the two large, paved parking areas on either side of the road. The Bierstadt trail starts near the parking area on the east side of the road. The upper parking area (on the west side of the pass) has restrooms.From the south: Take US 285 west from Denver or east from Fairplay. Drive to the town of Grant which is about 12 miles west of Bailey. In Grant, turn north on the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway and drive approx. 13 miles to Guanella Pass.
Taken near the trailhead, Photo #1 shows the route to the summit. Photo #2 and Photo #3 show the route from a distance. Hike east down the Bierstadt Trail. There are wooden bridges that have been built recently so you don't have to walk through all of the muddy sections - Photo #4. The trail weaves through the willows and crosses Scott Gomer Creek ( 39.59418° N, -105.69725° W) after over 1/2 mile. The trail has been improved over the past few years, so ignore the warnings that some guidebooks give about the willows. After crossing the stream, hike about 1/4 mile through the willows on the excellent trail. Photo #5 is the view ahead. At 11,800', the trail begins to climb up a shoulder - Photo #6. You are out of the willows and the trail switchbacks to approximately 12,300' on the north end of the shoulder ( 39.59242° N, -105.68461° W). The remaining route is now visible.
The trail goes left (northeast) and then curves around to the right (south) toward the slope ahead - Photo #7. Gradually gain elevation as you continue south up the shoulder. Reach the base of the steeper slope near 13,000' and follow the trail as it climbs south and then southeast. The terrain on the slope is a bit more rugged and covered with boulders. If there is snow, you may have to make your own trail - just aim for the ridge above (southeast). Do not stray into the steeper terrain to your left (below the summit). Photo #8 looks down on the route from 13,300'. Reach the top of the ridge ( 39.5803° N, -105.67276° W) at nearly 13,800'.
The summit isn't visible from here but it's only another 250' of elevation gain. Photo #9 shows the final pitch. Turn left and begin your climb up through the boulders - Photo #10. Keep climbing until the terrain levels out and stroll a bit further to the summit ( 39.582638° N, -105.668610° W) - Photo #11 and Photo #12.
When you hike down the Bierstadt Trail into Scott Gomer creek, you lose approximately 200' of elevation. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Mount Evans Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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