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Archive for the ‘Mount Evans’ Category

Trip Report 2

Bierstadt with the rugged Sawtooth Ridge. Mount Evans is, I think, to the left out of the frame of the picture.

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  Estimated July, 1986
  • Wilderness Area:  Mount Evans Wilderness
  • Wilderness Size:  74,401 acres
  • Location:  Colorado Front Range
  • Destination:  Mount Bierstadt Summit
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 6
  • Duration:  Day hike

These were some wicked willows.  Less than half a mile from the trailhead we were already mired in an endless sea of choking willows that had swallowed up the trail already.  Our Fourteener guide book had warned us about it but this was rediculous…

I’m not totally sure on the year–could be 1986 or 1987.  Anyway, I was a teenager and the summit of Mt. Bierstadt was the destination.  Bierstadt is one of Colorado’s 54 “fourteeners,” which are mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation.

Bierstadt is a rugged ridge away from its neighbor, the much more famous Mt. Evans, the wilderness area namesake.  When this wilderness was established a winding corridor of non-wilderness was excluded for the paved road that leads up to just below the Mt. Evans summit.  It is the highest paved road in North America.

There are some unique characteristics of this wilderness.  Specifically, there is an area of arctic tundra, which is different than alpine tundra and is something of an oddity in Colorado.  There are also stands of bristlecone pine, and of course the snaking Mt. Evans road.  Mountain goats are very common on Mount Evans itself.

Our destination, however, was not Mount Evans, but the much lesser known and slightly lower Bierstadt.  The trailhead started at the top of Guanella Pass, already near 12,000 feet and above timberline.  It first took us down slightly into a valley where we were immediately mired in those particularly obnoxious willows.

With much effort, we finally pushed through to the far side of the willows where the trail magically reappeared.  From this point it was up and up and up.  We finally caught the ridge to the west of the summit.  From there it was a short, steep hike to the very top. 

Views from the summit of any fourteener are impressive and Bierstadt was no different.  We looked over to Mt. Evans; we looked down on alpine lakes; we looked across over rolling expanses of alpine tundra.

Bierstadt was not the first Colorado fourteener I climbed, but if my memory serves me correct, it was the first one located within a wilderness area.  I had previously climbed Mounts Grays and Torreys and Quandary Peak.  I would go on to climb a total of 20 fourteeners by the end of my freshman year in college.  I’ve since lost a little interest in the remaining summits.  The trails are typically more crowded with fourteener “peak baggers.” And, while they are all wonderful hikes, just because they are “14’ers” does not make them the best or most interesting hikes around.

The picture provided in this post was found on the internet.

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