Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans via Sawtooth

15 Dec 2004 - by John Simpson

I decided to attempt to climb Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans via the sawtooth during the winter. I had climbed it many times during the summer but had never tried it during the winter.

I got up to the parking lot on Guanella Pass at about 7:30 in the morning and then started my climb towards the top of Bierstadt and eventually Mt. Evans. I got up to the ridge on Mt. Bierstadt and decided put on my crampons and get out my ice axe becacuse of the corniced snow and the increasing velocity of the wind. I got to the top of Bierstadt at about 11:00am. I started on to the sawtooth and found a semi-sheltered area where I could eat lunch. I ate a quick lunch and then continued down the sawtooth. I got to the crux at about 11:45 and at first did not see a way to get around it. I ended up kind of chimneying up a chute and then once above it I was able to walk the rest of the way to Mt. Evans. (Note, I tried to do the chute with just snowshoes but becacuse of the amount of ice I had to switch into crampons to keep from falling).I got to Mt. Evans at about 2:45.

Once I was on the top of Evans I stopped to eat a quick snack and think about if I wanted to take the Sawtooth back or take a longer, but safer route that goes near west side of Mt. Spalding, on to the west side of Gray Wolf Mountain and then finally down the Scott Gromer Creek. I decided to take the longer route based on the fact that the wind was blowing at nearly (to my best guess) 80 mph and the fact that both of the water bottles on the outside of my pack had nearly an inch on ice on the top and about 3/4 of an inch on the side. The decision was also because I did not really want to get caught in the dark on the Sawtooth.

I took the longer route which I think was about 6 miles of relatively easy snowshoeing, except for the wind. I finally got back to my car at about 8:00 that night after hiking in twilight/dark for nearly 2 hours. This is a great climb in the summer but in the winter it was far more difficult than I had expected. Overall it was pretty fun but you have got to be careful.

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