Mt Bierstadt

26 Mar 2001 - by Darcy Straub

Jim Ippolito asked:
> Has anyone climbed anything recently instead of just talking about mountains?

Tuesday I was having dinner with my boss, his girlfriend and her brother (Mark) who was visiting from California. During the course of dinner it came out that part of the reason for Mark's visit was to climb Bierstadt. Lacking any partners to attempt the climb and with my climbing background, it was suggested that I take Thursday off from work to help Mark climb Bierstadt. "Well, okay. Twist my arm."

So on Thursday Mark and I set off to climb Bierstadt and to tackle the infamous willows. I had climbed Bierstadt in late January and the conditions between January and March were substantial. In January, the snow level was such that everybody was using the boardwalk to get across the willows and snowshoes weren't even needed because of the well-packed trail. On Thursday, the boardwalk was completely covered and there was no existing snow-packed trail. As a result, Mark and I spent three hours snowshoeing across deep snow in the willows. About one mile and 400' in three hours. That's rough.

After crossing the willows, we continued up the hill. After a couple more hours and at an elevation of 13,000' we called it quits. We were somewhat concerned about the snow clouds that were beginning to gather around Square Top and neither one of was too excited about the possibility of having to rebreak the trail due to new snowfall. On the way back, wind-blown snow had filled in some of our tracks, but due to the way wind-blown snow packs, we didn't sink much if at all. Interesting. But note that your results may vary . . .

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