Bierstadt via Guanella Pass

11 Mar 2003 - by Brendan Oldham

Drive up to Guanella Pass (from Georgetown) no problem for 4WD (I did see a front-wheel drive car at trailhead in afternoon). Be careful coming down; quite icy/slushy. Be sure to start on the right trail! All of the signs are hidden behind a massive snow bank. Trail sign should read, Bierstadt Trail. I foolishly started on the Delores trail and tried to cross the willows to get back on track. After post-holing up to my waist, I resorted to crawling! A waste of 45 minutes and a lot of energy (My snowshoes were 1/4 of a mile behind me in the truck). Once on the right trail, the going was smooth. I didn't put on my crampons the whole climb. Snow was perfect for climbing--hard/thin enough to prevent post-holing, but soft enough for good traction. Wind was howling (worse on descent). Bring a face mask (I forgot mine!). Grade is gentle; last stretch to summit is a little steeper (but no need for ice axe/crampons). This is a short easy climb. At a modest pace, I was on summit in 3 hours 15 min (including the willows episode) and down in 2 hours. Pics available at

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