Mount Bierstadt (1)/Point 11990
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Base Camp

  • Statistics:
    • Date Hiked:  December 20, 2003
    • Miles Hiked:  7.0
    • Elevation Gain:  3,090'
    • Hiking Partner(s):  Thomas Milinowicz
  • Description:
    • 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 Fourteeners" book.
    • Additional Statistics
Leg Description Start End Gain (Loss) Miles
1. Guanella Pass Trailhead - Scott Gomer Creek 11,669' 11,480' (189) 1.0
2. Scott Gomer Creek - Mount Bierstadt 11,480' 14,060' 2,580' 2.0
3. Mount Bierstadt - Scott Gomer Creek 14,060' 11,480' (2,580') 2.0
4. Scott Gomer Creek - Point 11990 11,480' 11,990' 510' 1.5
5. Point 11990 - Guanella Pass Trailhead 11,990' 11,669' (321') 0.5
  Grade/Cumulative Elevation Gain/Miles 16.7% 3,090' 7.0
* Scott Gomer Creek Crossing 11,480' Determined from topo map.





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