Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Sawtooth, The  -  13,780 feet
Date Posted:  08/31/2017
Date Climbed:   08/19/2017
Author:  Constantine816
 Bierstadt + Sawtooth + Evans (First timer!)  

This was my first ever 14ers! YOU CAN DO IT!

I got off work around 11:00pm, raced home, grabbed my gear, and departed Denver around midnight. I arrived at the Guanella Pass Campground around 1:30am. First mission and flying solo. I got some beta from other trip reports on here that gave me some confidence. I hope I can do the same for others! It's all highly accessible paved roads. The campground is a bit small so plan accordingly. I set my alarm for 5:30am and slept in my 2008 RAV4 (her name is Francesca). My eyes snapped open to a brisk morning. I threw on the defogger, rolled down the windows, and headed up to the summit overlook at tree line (~12,000 ft) where I ** WENT TO THE BATHROOM**, stretched, hydrated, snapped some goonie pics, and embarked by 6:00am. I warmed up with a light jog past many large parties.



There is a creek crossing within the first few hundred yards. Don't be afraid to break away from the crowd and take some time to scout out the best place to cross. No fun climbing in wet shoes! Beyond the creek it's all gravy train. Well-used and clear-cut trails. Zero guess work. Look back every now and again to watch the parking lot shrink and the morning sun spill into the valley (and breathe). I took 3 short (5-10 minute) breaks and 1 extended (25 minute) lunch break once I started hitting boulders (about 3/4 of the way up Beirstadt). My legs were already cramping and it was only 8:00am!


Even in August it's pretty brisk at that elevation. I wore a tank top, shorts, light hiking shoes, and a buff on my head. I brought a puffy, rain shell, and pants. I changed into my pants and threw on all my jackets on my break. I wish I brought gloves! For snacks and lunch, I packed two liters of water, a sandwich bag of goldfish, a few protein bars, and a few granola bars.

After lunch I lit and carried some incense to give me some incen(se)tive for my first peak of the day. I connected with a few "passing buddies" who I passed and who passed me. We cheered each other on until everyone converged at the top around 9:15am! I'm usually not even awake for another couple hours on a typical Saturday. Woo! WHAT A VIEW! THE PARKING LOT WAS SO TINY! Mt. Evans and the Sawtooth are in perfect view from here, so you can see what you're in for. After the obligatory pics it was time to press on.


There was a party ahead of me who were smart enough to bring helmets and a party behind me who failed to plan as I did, but pressed on nonetheless. halfway across the ridge is a sizable knob. This was it! Given a small pep talk, patience, and flexibility, the Sawtooth can be conquered. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!


I hooked up with some helmeteers and followed their lead. We traversed the NW side where we caught some shade and breeze, a welcome break from the rising sun. There are some seriously steep dropoffs here, but very manageable. If anything, they make for spectacular views! All in all the Sawtooth is a good mix of boulders, skree, and foot trails. You'll feel great about following through. Past the knob there is about a half mile of nice flats where you could have a picnic. It's here that the Sawtooth flows neatly into the Evans trail.


Mind you, by this time my legs have been in spasms since 8:00am. It is now 12:45pm. About 3 hours to climb Bierstadt, 1.5 hours to traverse the sawtooth. This is my first experience summitting a 14er, much less 2.5 of them. Just when I'm feeling particularly good about myself (to distract from the shredding pain in my legs), I get passed up by a guy from Houston who's hiking his (now) fifth 14er THIS WEEK. "Yeah, we do this every year or so." This guy is not in remarkable physical condition and carrying a pack with, I might add, a bit of pep in his step. This urges me forward, though I'm certain it's a one way trip for me. The route to Evans from here is mostly boulders, but it's only another hour to the summit parking lot.

It's here that I made some peak friends who simply drove up to the top. They let me borrow their dogs for a summit picture. They shared their cooler foods. There is nothing better than cold fruit at 14,265 feet after a long day. I told them I was hitching it back to my car (My legs were completely shot) and they offered me a ride down to Idaho Springs. I gladly accepted.


I made a few signs offering gas money, asking for a ride to Bierstadt, just askign to go west on I-70. I got passed up by over 200 cars, each driver diligently reading my sign and accelerating West onto the highway. I gave up, and lo, a wonderful lady points at me through her window as I'm walking down the on ramp to the highway. From Idaho Springs, she dropped me at the exit ramp to Georgetown. In Georgetown, I picked up a celebratory Black & Mild, stuffed some wildflowers into my buff from the roadside, and gleefully carried my hitching sign with a thumb along the road.

Luck be a lady, a giant yellow Penske moving truck stops and offers me a ride "halfway up" Bierstadt. There is a longboard race going on this weekend and they're using the moving trucks as shuttles up and down the mountain. The truck made several stops, quickly filling with gnar-shredders of the asphalt variety, and I hopped off halfway up, as promised. Again, I resumed my black & mild, sign, and thumb as I walked, rejoicing the walk back to Francesca cutting from 9 hours, to 4 hours, to 2 hours. A few cars passed up and down until an SUV pulled over with a couple going camping for the weekend from Denver. They relayed their reservations about picking me up, having just watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I assured them I had no affiliation. They brought me the rest of the way over small talk back to my dear Lady in Red, Francesca. My desire to stay and party with the longboarders soon gave way to fatigue, and I drove merrily home to submerge myself in an ice bath.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

?Excellent Adventure!
07/06/2018 17:22
I really enjoyed your post. Full of lighthearted humor and a fun adventure.


Fun report
08/08/2018 11:08
Great trip report! It sounds like you went all out for first time on the 14ers.

Your trip report addressed this pretty well , but how do-able is that Sawtooth ridge?

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