Peaks #38 & #39: Evans & Bierstadt, Tuesday May 3, 2016.
Elevation: 14,264′ & 14,060′
Ski Route: Guanella Pass Campground to South Clear Creek Drainage, Over Mt. Spalding, Up Evans NW ridge. Ski down Evans NW ridge to the Scott Gomer’s Couloir, up Bierstadt NW ridge and face to Summit. Ski Descent of NW Couloir and Slopes.
Roundtrip Mileage and Vertical: 14mi/ 5,500′
Ski Partners: Solo Summit of both.
Start Time: 630am (From Guanella Pass Campground, 2 miles below the Pass).
Reached Summit: Evans at 930am, 30 mins on Summit, Bierstadt at 1230pm.
End Time: 2pm
Evans and Bierstadt was kind of a slog that I was looking forward to, but also not looking forward too. I have climbed these Front Range peaks and have skied them many times over the years, so I was happy to have a relatively easy and straightforward day. A few things I hope for out of this day would be good snow and light winds. Well, I was lucky. The storm system for the week had cleared, and the winds came out of the north, so they were cold, keeping the snow nice at all elevations. In the end, the colder conditions made for a spectacular day to ski both peaks and to enjoy crystal clear views.
I parked below Guanella Pass at about 6am and readied my gear, finished off a breakfast burrito and hit the trail at 630. Instead of climbing to the pass on the road, i took a short cut into the Clear Creek Basin and made a beeline for the Scott Gomer basin and the Sawtooth. I wanted to get Evans out of the way since it would be further and higher.
Once in the flat basin below Bierstadt, it was easy to skin to the northern flanks of Evans on easy terrain. I skirted Mount Spaulding to the east, and passed the Sawtooth to my west as I gained the northwest and west ridge of Evans.
Spindrift was strong, and at times blinding out of the east on the ridge to the summit, but once I made the top by around 930am, things calmed down and it was a beautiful sunny and dry day on top. the Mt. Evans road still closed I was all alone and could see down into the Denver Metro area easily.
This was my first time back up on Evans in a couple of years. Its always rewarding to stand on top of Evans, especially when you don’t have to share the summit with the mobs of summer tourists that drive up the road.
After photos and snacks I knew I needed to get down and over to Bierstadt so I clicked in and took the ridge to the west. I retraced my steps and skied easily back to the ridge and to a flat area at about 13,700′ near Spaulding and the Sawtooth.
This is the headwaters of Scott Gomer Creek. There is a southwest facing gully I call “Scott Gomer’s Couloir”. It was in excellent condition so I dropped in and skied it to the basin below Bierstadt’s North Face.
After a quick break in the basin at about 11,600′ I put on skins and climbed out of the basin to join the standard northwest ridge and slopes of bierstadt. Here came something unusual, a guy named Andy was skiing off the summit and greeted me.
This was the first person from a separate party other than my own that I had seen skiing any of these peaks in weeks. We shot some photos of each other skiing and wished each other luck. I headed up, he was headed back towards the 285 side of Guanella Pass.
Winds stayed reasonable out of the East and by 1215 I had reached the summit ridge and the summit minutes later. I also witnessed an Air Force fighter jet that zoomed past me from west to east at about 15,000′ right over the Sawtooth! That was cool!
The day was gorgeous and the amount of snow on the Front Range peaks was excellent, but kind of windblown at this point. I was happy to ski off the top of Bierstadt and down to my car in no time!
I headed to the Sangre De Cristos for a date with the Crestones next.
Thanks for Reading-