Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,066 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,268 feet
Sawtooth, The - 13,780 feet
West Evans
Date Posted:  06/09/2020
Date Climbed:   06/08/2020
Author:  brendan3684
 My First 14er experience via The Sawtooth Ridge   

Hello to everyone reading this report. I am fairly new to this website but wow has it been helpful in preparing me for this trip and future trips to come. I enjoy reading everybody's reports and also exploring through all the different routes you are able to take while climbing 14ers in Colorado. With that in mind, I hope you are able to enjoy this report and hopefully it will help you in finding your way throughout the mountain.

I am 19 years old and have lived in Colorado my entire life. I am an avid hiker, mountain biker, and camper but for some reason have never attempted the beautiful 14ers within our state. I've always liked the idea of being able to cap all 14ers so this was the summer I decided to start. So after work, I grabbed all my gear and headed out with my cousin to Guanella Pass to start our adventure.

We started on the Trailhead towards Mt. Bierstadt at around 5:30 am as our confidence and the weather was optimal

Taken from Guanella Pass Trailhead

We got off to an excellent start and was making great pace as the temperature and the wind were pretty steady. We made it about halfway up Mt. Bierstadt from the trailhead within an hour

Halfway up 6:30 am

We peaked Mt. Bierstadt at around 7:30 am and we were feeling amazing. The wind at the top was pretty bone-chilling but wasn't anything we couldn't handle. We had great pace and great energy the entire time and were ready for the sem-intimidating sawtooth ridge that was ahead of us.

Top of Mt. Bierstadt facing Guanella Pass
Caption Here
Top of Mt. Bierstadt facing South
Top of Mt. Bierstadt facing The Sawtooth

After about 15 min of break time at the top, we decided to make our way down onto the ridge. A surge of excitement and nervousness jolted through me. I just capped my first ever 14er and I was about to make my way onto a class 3 traverse. I really like technical trails because of the challenge but it being a class 3 trail with no experience, it made me a little nervous

The descent off of Bierstadt was really steep and loose. I had to go down for a few dozen feet before my cousin could come down because of the loose rock and rockfall caused by descending it. We had to cross a few snow coverings but they happened to be more stable than the rock so it was more of a breather than anything

Descending Bierstadt looking towards Abyss Lake
Starting to head up towards The Sawtooth

The class 3 climb wasn't anything that me and my cousin couldn't handle. It was a lot of fun actually and it makes you feel more accomplished after climbing it.

class 3 scramble
Gendarme on the traverse

The view from the infamous part of the ridge was amazing. We just took the standard route on the side of the ledge. If you are afraid of heights then this section is not for you but if the beauty can overcome your fear then I really recommend trying this route.

The infamous sawtooth ledge
On the ledge facing Guanella pass

We wrapped around the ledge and peaked the Sawtooth at around 9:30 and started to make our way towards Mt. Evans. The trail follows the ridgeline of the sawtooth which makes a really nice view until it meets up with the trail that goes to Mt. Evans. I do have to add that I did not know that succulents grow like weeds up here so that was a nice surprise to find

Top of the sawtooth facing Abyss lake
A flowering succulent

Unfortunately my phone did die so I was not able to grab many pictures after this, but we continued to follow the trail that leads to Mt. Evans while also going off the trail a little bit for a scramble up to peak " West Evans" and what some call "West West Evans." The trail that goes to Evans is a bit unclear at times but there are many cairns that help guide the way. We got to Evans and capped it at around 11:30 am. It was getting very windy and very cold so we didn't stay up there for too long but it is a little bit disappointing when you hike all this way to get to Evans and you see a road that goes all the way up it and a parking lot conveniently right there.

the parking lot and observatory at the top of Mt. Evans
Caption Here

On the way back, exhaustion started to hit us both and our pace slowed down a lot, the side of the ridge where we were following the trail became really windy but our spirits were still there

We got to the gully at around 12:30 pm and started our descent. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the gully. The descent is very steep and loose and when you already been hiking for several hours you have to be aware that it's another big challenge to overcome

making our way towards the gully
looking down into the gully facing Guanella pass

We made our way down the gully and followed the muddy trail all the way back to the parking lot. We got back to the parking lot at around 2:30 pm making the total time at about 9 hours. We capped two 14ers making Bierstadt my first ever 14er to peak and Evans my second. We also capped the sawtooth, west evans, and west west evans if you guys count that at all. Thus, making it 5 total peaks for the day. I thought this was an incredible experience and I hope to cap more 14ers this summer.

Hope you found this report helpful!! Happy Trails Everybody!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice Job!
06/10/2020 09:34
I got the same feeling you had about a parking lot atop Mt Evans when I did Pikes Peak last year. They are also doing a ton of construction on Pikes Peak so you might want to wait a year or two before you do it. Good luck on your 14ers quest

06/13/2020 15:06
I've wanted to to do Sawtooth -- done both Evans and Bierstadt on separate hikes. Well done!

One thing to consider during your 14ers quest: some climbers (a la Gerry Roach) subscribe to a long-held tradition that you must ascend at least 3,000 feet for each individual peak to have officially climbed it. Others say traverses that allow you to bag other peaks are fine.

It's up to you! Best of luck!

06/17/2020 08:34
This was a very helpful review! i was wondering if you could tell me if the winter gate was open. You mentioned that you started at the trailhead, were you able to park in the lot? or did you have to park below the gate?

Response to kwieber
06/17/2020 11:32
Yes the gate is open. They opened it about 3 days before my hike so you are all good to park in the parking lot at the trailhead

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