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Mt. Evans
West Ridge from Guanella Pass
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Difficulty:
 Class 2 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Guanella Pass
Start:11,669 feet
Summit:14,264 feet
Total Gain:3,100 feet
RT Length:9.25 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:7/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:286 reports
Cell Signal:11 reports
Sheriff:Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
Forests:Arapaho, 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

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.

Route

Taken from Guanella Pass, 1 shows the route. Locate the Bierstadt Trail and begin descending east toward Scott Gomer Creek. Weave through willows on wooden bridges and trail sections for nearly a mile to reach the creek, near 11,500' - 2. After crossing the creek continue to a large boulder, on the left, and pick a spot to leave main trail. There are several thin trails that start in this area but they are hard to find. You will do some willow-bashing no matter which way you go.

After leaving the Bierstadt trail, the key is to walk on the right side of the creek and around the tree-covered hill that's between you and The Sawtooth - 3 and 4. It may help to walk up onto the side of this hill but only enough to get out of the thick willows. Once you are around the hill, the creek is below and you can now see a gully to the east - 5. Continue east along the creek and cross it to reach the base of a gully that climbs between Mt. Spalding and The Sawtooth - 6. This gully is the crux of the route but it's easier than it looks from Guanella Pass. Enter the gully and follow a faint trail up through the rocks and willows near the bottom - 7. As the gully narrows, the trail becomes more obvious. 8 looks down the gully. Climb until the slope eases near 13,300'.

Above the gully , continue southeast toward the highest point. 13er Mt. Spalding is to your left, Mt. Bierstadt and The Sawtooth are to the right. Continue up as the gully flattens out into a large open area. As you gain ground, look for a hump which is the start of Evans' west ridge - 9. Near 13,700', the end of the ridge becomes more obvious and that hump becomes more defined. 10 looks back down on the terrain and 11 shows the start west ridge. At 13,800', locate a cairned route that continues to the hump - 12. The cairns are part of an established route from Summit Lake, over Mt. Spalding, and along the west ridge. Hike to a notch just before the hump, drop to the right slightly, and follow the cairned trail below the ridge crest - 13. Continue along the ridge to a point where you can finally see the summit - 14. Hike to the corner of the Mt. Evans road and then over 100 feet to the summit or walk all the way to the parking area and take the tourist trail to the top - 15 and 16.

Notes

This route involves a lot of off-trail hiking. 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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