Mount Bierstadt, Been There, Done That

I climbed my second 14er at the end of June: Mount Bierstadt, elevation 14,060 feet. Wow, what a beautiful ascent with a great group of hikers from Northern Colorado Adventurers. We started hiking at 6:43 am.

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Mt. Evans, The Sawtooth, Mt. Bierstadt

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Moose

There were a mother and baby moose sighted at the parking lot (which I missed) and then five more shortly after we got going.

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Boardwalk through the “willows”

Roach calls this “the willows” in his quintessential guide book Colorado’s 14ers and I see the same description online, but isn’t it manzanita? (Go ahead and set me straight in the comments.)

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Moose at Lake 11510

The topo maps I consulted labeled this pretty pool merely “11510” which I presume to be the elevation. I shall henceforth call it Moose Lake. Can you see all five moose in the photo?

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Still far away

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View across the willows

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Final pitch to the summit

We reached the summit in 2 hours and 21 minutes, the last 20 of which were spent climbing the final pitch above.

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I made it! Bierstadt summit with Mt. Evans behind

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View from Mt. Bierstadt summit

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View from Mt. Bierstadt summit

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Not too cloudy but very crowdy on top

This time I remembered to sign the summit register. However, I couldn’t locate the geo marker despite being told I had hiked right over it.

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Mt. Evans & Abyss Lake from Bierstadt

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Another flattering Bierstadt summit shot

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Dave, who hiked with me most of the way

In our group of eight attempting Bierstadt, Dave & I ended up pacing ahead of the rest on the way up. We were on the summit nearly half an hour and ready to start down when the rest of the group arrived (minus one who had turned back early).

 Mount Bierstadt, Been There, Done That

Northern Colorado Adventurers on Mt. Bierstadt

So our summit stay clocked in at 37 minutes. I felt great and didn’t want to leave. I checked my step counter before heading down at 9:41 and it said 12,025 steps.

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Sawtooth between Bierstadt & Evans

Six more Northern Colorado Adventurers had hit the trail earlier than we to climb Bierstadt, cross the Sawtooth, and claim Evans as well.

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View toward Guanella Pass & parking area

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Headed down

I’ll be honest, my knees weren’t happy by this point. Thank God for trekking poles and ibuprofen, but still. I’m a very slow descender. If this tested Dave’s patience, he was extremely good natured about it. Several from the later summit group passed us on the way down, and somewhere I traded hiking partners.

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Looking back at the Sawtooth as clouds gathered

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Dog crossing Scott Gomer Creek

Scott Gomer Creek was easy to cross on stepping stones. This dog was happy to frolic a little in the cool.

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Final view of Mt. Evans, the Sawtooth, Mt. Bierstadt, and Moose Lake

I returned at 12:17 for a total time of 5 hours, 34 minutes, step counter boasting a whopping 23,498 clicks. The round trip is officially 7 miles, plus summit exploration. (Math trivia: coming down took me 15 minutes longer than going up, courtesy of creaky knees.)

The flashing lights of two emergency vehicles greeted us. We deduced that a search had been initiated. It began to sprinkle as we all waited in line at the outhouse, and just as we were leaving the parking lot, a brief hailstorm ensued. Winding down Guanella Pass, we passed two more emergency vehicles going up with sirens howling, and then an Alpine Rescue van.

From a news release and the Alpine Rescue web site I pieced together the story that a 15-year-old boy had taken a fall from the Sawtooth but was not found, leading rescue teams to believe he was able to hike out by himself.

 


Update: Nineteen days later a 32-year-old man had a fatal accident crossing the Sawtooth. It seems more personal being a place I so recently visited.

 

3 Comments

Jere Joiner
Posted November 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

I read a poem once titled “The Willows.” I can’t remember exactly where it was — maybe a hiking club newspaper — but it describe the willows as “sly and knowing,” just waiting for the unwary hiker to venture into them. If anyone knows where I can find this funny, funny poem, please let me know. I’d love to have it again. OK to share my email address: jerejoiner1 (at) gmail (dot) com

Mollie
Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

Hello my name is Mollie and I live in California, my sister lives in Denver and I will be visiting next month. We are thinking of hiking this as our first 14er but I am trying to figure out how great of shape one needs to be in to do this hike? We are more the “weekend warrior” type hikers not in excellent shape from hiking each week. Also, do you think trekking poles are necessary?

Kristina
Posted August 17, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

Hi Mollie, sorry I don’t check on this blog a whole lot! Hopefully it’s not too late to reply. I think this is a doable 14er for someone in moderately decent shape if you like to hike. Basically you will be walking up and down a steep incline for about 6 hours, so expect to be sore if you don’t hike a lot. I love my poles and using them correctly extends my hiking endurance because some of the work can be helped by the upper body. They also save my knees, which used to get sore easily. If you have good knees, poles may not be necessary but are still highly recommended to reduce fatigue. Bierstadt is a nice 14er. Good luck!

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