- Date Hiked: December 20, 2003
- Miles Hiked: 7.0
- Elevation Gain: 3,090'
- Hiking Partner(s): Thomas
- Unlike Veterans Day last month, this time Tom and I had full
intentions of making a summit bid on Bierstadt. We watched the
weather on Thursday and Friday, and if things looked bad we would opt
for Chief Mountain, otherwise we would return to Mount Bierstadt.
Georgetown (CO) was showing low precipitation and high temps,
so we made our way back to Guanella Pass to give it another shot.
- After reaching the trailhead and surveying the situation, we decided
to leave our snow shows in the Trooper as the snow conditions appeared
favorable. The skies were not clear, but at least we weren't in a
blizzard of snow with excessive wind (at least not yet). We
knocked out the first mile quickly and began ascending the western
slopes of Bierstadt. After reaching our turn around point from a
month ago, we were feeling pretty good and thought we had it
licked. Although Bierstadt looks relatively close, even from the
trailhead, we still had our work cut out for us at this point.
- The trail wasn't evident, so we just followed the northwest ridge up
and by the time we reached 13,000', it was time to put on some more
clothes. The wind had picked up considerably, and we were both
experiencing cold feet, literally. I decided at the trailhead not
to wear my plastic boots, so all I had on were my light hiking shoes and
Tom had mid-weight hikers on. I threw on my shell jacket and we
both donned another layer on our legs. As the route steepened, the
pace slowed. Since Bierstadt is considered one of the easiest
14ers, I thought I would increase its difficulty by going in the winter,
and I certainly accomplished that.
- Adding elements like wind, snow, and route finding (although not
extremely difficult) definitely increases the difficulty of a
hike. When we were done, I think we both felt as though we had
done 5,000' and 10 miles. Anyway, by the time we gained the west
ridge and could see Frozen Lake below, the wind had picked up
considerably. We took a short break at the notch before going the
final 350' to the summit. On a few occasions, the wind gusts were
extremely fierce, and we had to brace ourselves and let it die down
before continuing. Once on the summit, it was much calmer and
actually gave us the opportunity to warm up.
- We took several photos, had a bite to eat, and congratulated one
another. From the summit, you could see Mount Evans, The Sawtooth,
Pikes Peak, Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, Abyss Lake, Frozen Lake, the
trailhead, and many other mountains to the west. The wind and
blowing snow was sporadic and didn't subside until back down to around
12,000'. If you want to avoid the crowds and have a bit more
solitude on this mountain, I'd definitely recommend a winter
ascent. On the way back down, I made a side trip to Point 11990
south of Guanella Pass to make sure I gained 3,000'. In
conclusion, this was a great hike where we both felt like we had climbed
a mountain at the end of the day.
- I'll admit, that hiking to the top of Point 11990 to get the
additional feet needed to reach 3,000 is a bit weak. This is
similar to Mount Sherman when I hiked Gemini Peak twice to get 3k.
It is hard to gain the required footage on some of the shorter 14ers
without taking drastically different routes or adding significant
miles. I should also note that the elevation of the Scott Gomer
Creek crossing reconciles to the statistics in Roach's "Colorado
- Additional Statistics
||Guanella Pass Trailhead - Scott Gomer Creek
||Scott Gomer Creek - Mount Bierstadt
||Mount Bierstadt - Scott Gomer Creek
||Scott Gomer Creek - Point 11990
||Point 11990 - Guanella Pass Trailhead
||Grade/Cumulative Elevation Gain/Miles
||Scott Gomer Creek Crossing
||Determined from topo map.
- Click here
to view a 2D map of
the area where this hike is located.