My 2nd 14er: Mt Bierstadt 11/14/19

Mt. Bierstadt on the right, the Sawtooth (part of the ridge traverse to Mt. Evans) on the left

My 2nd 14er is in the bag! I’ve been checking the weather forecasts for a nice, clear day with minimal wind, and this morning was PERFECT. The sustained wind was forecasted not to exceed 20mph and I didn’t notice any significant gusts.

Trail and Conditions

I took the West Slopes route up Bierstadt, starting from the actual Guanella Pass Trailhead while the road was still open (planned to close on 12/2.) This trail involved 2,576′ of ascent and 7.2mi roundtrip hiking.

I slept in the car overnight at the trailhead (it was so windy at night I could feel the suspension rocking under me!) and started off at about 7:20am. I meant to start earlier, but I had a hard time willing myself to open up the door and face the cold. Luckily, there was an established boot pack all the way from the trailhead to the bottom of the final summit pitch. Traction for the hard packed ice and snow was immensely helpful. Some potions of the trail were completely cleared or half-cleared of snow.

Gear

Nothing significant with respect to gear has changed since my two Quandary Peak hikes – doubled socks and gloves continue to be vital. This time, I wore my Prana Stretch Zion pants over my Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms and under my Mountain Hadwear Insulated Snow Pants INSTEAD of the MH Fleece Bottoms and it seemed to work well. I might continue to wear the Stretch Zions instead of the MH Fleece Bottoms going forward as it seems to regulate temperature better… and avoid chafing early in the hike.

Small Victories

1 – I DIDN’T GET A DEBILITATING CASE OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS AFTER DESCENDING!

2 – I’m slowly getting better at “grinding it out” on the continuous, long, steep, uphill stretches. I think this is a combination of better acclimatization and improving physical condition.

Looking up at the final summit pitch.
The view from the summit was INCREDIBLE!

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