Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,066 feet
Date Posted:  04/03/2013
Date Climbed:   03/19/2013
Author:  byoung1141
 Mt. Bierdstat Take 2   

Mt. Bierdstat Take 2

This is my second attempt at tackling Mt. Bierdstat with my friend and climbing partner. We first drove up Gnuella Pass in mid-December, in what would be her first attempt at high altitude winter climbing. Painfully close to the summit, we turned around and headed back home, humbled by the altitude, snowy scramble and cold winds. We left, however, with a desire to return so that she and I could stand atop Mt. Bierdstat.

On March 19 we returned to Mt. Bierdstat. This time we had a couple additional hikes under our belts. This would be my eighth 14er, while this would be her second climb, in addition to Mt. Sheridan, a ranked 13er. Overall, she and I were more experienced and ready for the day's venture.

We drove up Gnuella Pass around 8 a.m. and began our ascent up the road. I felt confident in our climb today because already she was hiking faster than we had during the other three climbs we had done this winter. It was a beautiful winter day, with bright blue skies and of course predicted high winds. We decided to start the climb a little later as the winds were predicted to subside around noon to a manageable 30 mph, with 50-60 mph gusts. Thankfully as we began our hike toward Mt. Bierdstat through the willows and the marsh the wind remained at our backs propelling us, we joked, toward the summit. As we hiked we also did not want to bring up the note that the winds seemed much weaker than we anticipated fearing they would ramp up and make us eat our words! Fortunately that never happened.

Equipped with snowshoes we followed the trail through the marsh and up the ridge to the scramble section of Mt. Bierdstat. Once the deep snow had passed, we hid them beneath an obvious rock, and set off with our microspikes, relieved to be rid of the snowshoes and deeper snow. Before we knew it we were up on the final ridge and topping off at the summit! The predicted high winds were nowhere to be found, thankfully, and we enjoyed a perfect day atop Mt. Bierdstat.

Through the climb we had an interesting conversation about why we were each interested in climbing 14ers. I feel that none of us climb these challenging peaks for the same reason, so if you read my post would you mind commenting on some of your personal reasons for climbing?

Since I posed the question, I guess I should answer first. Fair is fair. But answering it is quite challenging now that I think about it...

Personally, I am an avid athlete and outdoor enthusiast. The two seem to go hand in hand quite well. I also get bored easily with routine. The tedium of life drives me to expand my horizon and seek out new experiences, places and challenges. They make the outdoors and athletics dynamic and constantly interesting.

At the same time, I look for the grand events to tackle. With my move to Colorado last November I decided to advance my hiking and climbing ventures by attempting to hike 14ers. I am a runner and just completed my first marathon last January. I hope to complete and Ironman in the near future. With all of these outdoor and athletic events, it is not about being competitive. My goal is to be happy with my experience. It is also nice to achieve something that few have attempted because the experience from the outset seemed too challenging.

There is nothing more rewarding than reaching the summit of a climb and standing atop one of the highest peaks in Colorado and having the whole world laid out in front of me, while also remembering the hard work it took to gain the summit. Similarly, there is nothing better than completing a race remembering all the hard work, training and soreness that brought me to the finish line.

In the end, I always reflect on and remember the journey that brought me to the summit or the finish line because that is the most important part. I have had great conversations and made better friendships on the sides of mountains as we battled steep climbs and high winds. I have enjoyed numerous sunrises and sunsets on training runs and bike rides. In the end, my entire life's journey will be a wonderful collage of all these magnificent and unique events. I guess that would be why I have taken on the goal of climbing 14ers, running marathons and completing triathlons.

I'm guessing not all will understand my reasons or drive. Some of my friends, even my family, call me crazy; say that I have a screw loose. I agree with them and embrace that description because it makes my life all the more interesting!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice report Bryan
04/04/2013 04:02
I am glad to hear this attempt went better for your friend. After watching you roll up Decalibron, I knew you had adapted to Colorado's mountains.

I climb for:
* the joy of feeling my body work hard and well
* the enjoyment of complex activities that require learning skills to do well
* the views and frequent wildlife encounters are a delight
* leaving a stressful, technical job completely behind for a while
* meeting some really fine people (inc Bryan) and coming to trust them even in scary places

Congrats to both of you!
04/04/2013 13:46
Nice report and pics!

I climb for:
- Exercise - the 14ers and 13ers make for a pretty good workout.
- Pushing my limits - it's way too easy to let myself sit in my comfort zone.
- That feeling you get when you top out on the summit, and you're on top of the world. I don't get it on every summit, but on those that I do, it more thank makes up for all the toil it took to get there.

I climb for...
04/04/2013 14:55
...the babes.
...Internet glory.
...summit IPAs.

I climb...
04/04/2013 18:36
- For the mental and physical challenge.
- To get away from the world for awhile.
- To meet new people and share experiences.
- To commune with nature.

Can't speak for others...
04/04/2013 19:08
...but I had no trouble identifying with all the reasons you listed for climbing. (Let them rattle on about you being ”crazy.”) I suspect that most of us share a lot of such reasons (or motivations) in common, but we all express them differently. As for me:
1. Exercise...good exercise.
2. The sense of physical freedom that's built in to the high country.
3. Getting away from ”civilization.”
4. The view!
5. Solitude. (Harder these days; I started climbing 14ers many years ago, when the summits of even easy ones were places you could usually count on being very alone.)
Congrats to both of you for taking on winter climbing. Also, loved the upside down sign...

Great report
05/20/2013 15:44
Thanks for this report..great photos. Glad to hear you summited successfully.

Also, I'm new to - hello all!

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