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Mt. Bierstadt
East Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Echo Lake
Start:13,300 feet
Summit:14,060 feet
Total Gain:3,000 feet
RT Length:5.00 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:7/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:580 reports
Cell Signal:32 reports
Sheriff:Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
Forest:Pike
Wilderness:Mount Evans
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Take Exit 240 at Idaho Springs on Interstate 70. Drive south on Colorado 103 for 13.5 miles at Echo Lake. You can park near the lake (by the picnic area) or drive up to the Echo Lake Lodge and park in one of the parking lots near the entrance to the Mt. Evans road (Colorado 5).

Route

From Echo Lake, drive over 11 miles up the Mt. Evans road (Colorado 5) to a corner at 13,300' with a small parking area. Park here. Taken from Mt. Evans, 1 is an overview of the route. Begin by hiking down to the saddle between Mt. Evans and Epaulet Mountain - 2. At the lowest part of the saddle, locate the top of a gully that drops west toward the basin between Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt - 3. From here, there's a great view of Bierstadt's east ridge. Drop into the gully and descend west toward the basin below - 4. Carefully make your way through the rock as you drop 800' ( 5 and 6) to reach the base of the gully near 12,300'. Continue west across the basin, over the Abyss trail, and eventually cross the small stream running out of the basin. Reach the base of the east ridge just west of the stream crossing - 7. You're next goal is to climb 800' (Class 2) up the slope to reach the crest of the ridge. Pick your line and climb to the ridge crest - 8 and 9.

Turn right and begin by scrambling over the first, small point on the ridge - 10. The second point comes into view and it's a bit larger - 11. Scramble over this point to see Point 13,641', the crux of the ridge - 12. Point 13,641' holds great rock and plenty of climbing opportunities. In 13, you'll see a section highlighted in red - this is Class 5 and blocks easy passage. The way around this is to follow a grassy ledge on the right side before climbing steep rock to regain the ridge - 14. Hike over to this area and drop onto the ledge - 15. Bypassing the cliffs to your left, follow the ledge for a bit and begin climbing back toward the ridge - 16. This pitch is steep but take your time and you'll be able to keep it to Class 3. Once back on the ridge, scramble to the top of Point 13,641' - 17 and 18.

Bierstadt's summit is in view but don't be fooled, plenty of distance and scrambling remains. Leave the top of Point 13,641' - 19. The downclimb from the point is steep and exposed, especially along the ridge crest and to the right. Search left of the ridge crest for easier terrain so you can bypass the more-difficult ridge sections. Near the base, scramble past some large rocks to reach easier terrain - 20. Pass some remaining points along the ridge ( 21) to reach the final pitch - 22. Climb approximately 200 feet over large blocks to reach the summit of Bierstadt - 23

For the descent, you have a several options: 1) Return over the east ridge, 2) climb the Sawtooth Route over to Mt. Evans, or 3) descend to Abyss Lake and re-climb the gully to reach the Mt. Evans road where you parked. The remainder of this text describes the easiest way back, which is option #3. From the summit, drop north down the start of the normal route towards The Sawtooth - 24. Follow cairns and small trail segments along the east side of the ridge as you descend northeast toward the end of the basin that holds Abyss Lake - 25. This slope holds some Class 3 ledges and plenty of loose rock, so take your time and look for the easiest way down. Continue down the slope ( 26, 27 and 28) to reach Abyss Lake, below 12,700' - 29. Walk along the side of the lake to reach the flats on the south end and continue east to the gully you used to access this area - 30. Re-climb the gully, turn left and hike back to the road.

Notes

This route provides some fun climbing on good rock, and a some solitude. 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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