Vengeance was ours!
(Mt Bierstadt)

10 Oct 2004 - by David Kesinger

My wife, 2.5 yr old daughter and I went to CO for the long Columbus Day weekend. We always like to work in a 14er if possible. It was nice enough weather to attempt a hike up a relatively easy one. We were overnighting in Vail and were debating whether to try Holy Cross. But some 5 years ago Bierstadt turned us back on our first attempt and it has stuck in our craw ever since. So we dropped off Daughter(tm) and pointed the truck East on I-70 towards Georgetown. Note: you should check the road conditions as Guanella Pass Road is under construction.

Left the trailhead at about noon. It was beautiful, about 40F and sunny. We quickly overheated while trudging through the Scott Gomer marshes. My dad helped build the boardwalks; thanks dad! One word for you here - mud. After the marshes, we took the big left turn to head to the NE ridge just before Bierstadt's Nordwand. At this point we got into serious snow (we're from Atlanta so take that for what it's worth) and headed up the somewhat steep slope. We were slipping (no crampons) and postholing (no snowshoes). One note: every other mtn I've been on has umpteen switch backs but up here above treeline in the snow it was just a straight shot.

Reached the summit saddle about 3:15. Hardly a breath of wind. My wife rested here while I slipped and scrambled another 15 minutes up to the top. There were a good amount of folks, a dog and a spooky looking snow cornice up there so I just peeked around and headed back down about 25 ft for some pics and video. I could see Pikes (done a little of the Barr trail) to the south, Gray's and Torrey's (bagged them last July) to the west, Long's (got turned back below the boulderfield) to the north and Evans (hiked a bunch around the summit) to the east. What a great view!

Started downhill and the wind was picking up from the east. It was sweeping down from the Sawtooth and over the NE ridge. The packed trail was rapidly being blown away or filled in. So we made tracks and some boot glissades (some unintentional). It was still quite warm towards the willows area so there was even more snow melt. I took my vest off and was just in my Duofold, pants and of course my trusty EMS boots. Got back around 5:15. Not bad for a mud and snow slog.

My wife echoed my thoughts in the parking area when she said we are truly blessed to be able to accomplish such an experience. to enlarge Bierstadt_from_Guanella_Pass_TH.jpg click to enlarge Bierstadt_looking_N_from_NE_ridge.jpg

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