Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday June 15th, 2008 Mt. Bierstadt

Mt. Bierstadt South Ridge
13.6 miles
4,450 vertical feet

For the past few years, I have had my eye on the South Ridge, described by Roach as a “Salubrious Sojourn”. I searched for TR’s in the 14erworld archive and elsewhere and was unable to find any?Allison and her mom were planning a hike for Sunday morning, followed by father’s day plans, so I figured Scott Gomer Creek from the Abyss TH would be a great spot for them to have a mellow mother/daughter hike, while I planned on running ahead for a bit. So many options from here…. hmmm…. What to do?

We got to the trailhead a bit later than I would have preferred (a bit before 10am), but I’ll admit that it was nice to sleep a little later after getting up at 3:55am the previous day. Started up the trail at 10am and jogged at a mellow pace, mainly because I had a loaded camelback with plenty of water, clothing, camera etc…. but I also wanted to keep my effort on the moderate side. The trail here is great for running and not too steep, gaining about 1,000 feet over 3.8 miles, much of it seemed pretty flat. The morning was beautiful, if a bit warm, but I was so stoked to be out running through the mountains on a warm summer day.

I stopped every so often to take pictures and drink in the morning. The trail was completely dry, except for a few short muddy spots. I passed the two trail junctions and continued on the Abyss Trail as it started to switchback up the steeper hillside until I got to a nice clear area on the steep hillside and headed straight up and trended left. The bushwhack was very easy as the forest is sparse and there is very little deadfall. There were a few remaining snow patches, but you would have to go out of your way to step in them. Once at tree line, you can see most of the route ahead and point 13,780 looks a bit distant, but the terrain is pretty mellow.

I made my way up to the ridgeline, where you can get a unique perspective on Bierstadt’s imposing East Ridge and peer down upon Frozen Lake. The ridge seems to go on and on for a long time with several bumps along the way and the final kick to point 13,780 is steep and sporty on large solid rocks (class 2+).Once I got to pt. 13,780, the remainder is a cake walk as Bierstadt looks to be within spitting distance. It is mostly a flat stroll to reach the main trail, where I encountered the expected hordes of hikers. I made quick work of the upper section, staying mostly on snow next to the rocks and topped out at 12:15pm and took a nice leisurely break.

Coming back down from 13,780, I followed the ridge a short ways, leaping from one solid boulder to the next, then dropped right and took a more direct line to the left of a huge snowfield (might be a good glissade with an axe?) which got me to a great, low angle grassy slope that I was able to quickly perform a descending traverse to my route through the trees. I rang up Allison on the two-way radios and she informed me they were a bit below the first junction and I told her I would be there soon.

The descent was quite expedient and I made it back to trail in the valley in 45 minutes from the summit of Bierstadt, going at a quick, but very measured and safe pace. I met Allison and her mom a few minutes later and we all hiked out together, getting back to the car at 3:20.

If you are looking for something new to do somewhat close to home, this route on Bierstadt is awesome. It felt very remote and quiet (except for the summit of course), and seemed to me like I was climbing a whole new peak. I highly recommend it!Splits:Depart TH: 10:00amBegin bushwhack: 10:50amTreeline: 11:10amPt. 13,780: 12:00pmSummit: 12:15pmLeave Summit: 12:30pmBack at Abyss Trail: 1:15pmBack at TH: 3:20pm


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