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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Mount Spalding + Mount Bierstadt | Sawtooth Ridge

Updated: May 12, 2023

July 18, 2022

Mount Spalding > Sawtooth Ridge > Mount Bierstadt

Completed as a point-to-point hike

6.6 miles; 2311 feet elevation gain

Total time: 5 hours 12 minutes

My first class three route and we chose a point-to-point variation of the Sawtooth Ridge. This ridge is an iconic route in the Front Range that connects Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt. It is recommended as a great introduction to class three, which I throughly agree with! We decided to do it as a point to point to reduce mileage, avoid bad weather on the return route and because we had the ability to do so.

Our day started by leaving home at 3am. We drove to the Mount Bierstadt trailhead to drop off one car and then drove to the Summit Lake trailhead where we would begin the route. You do need a reservation to enter and park at Summit Lake, I only booked ours the day before. From summit lake you take the Mount Spalding trail, after the summit you descend briefly before breaking off the Mount Evans trail to head towards the ridge. The trail is well marked with cairns but I highly recommend having the GPX map downloaded to find the entry point onto the ridge. The initial drop in is slightly intimidating with loose rock and dirt but the trail is wide enough that exposure isn't a concern. Studying the route and photos is an absolute must. It takes away a lot of stress and makes route finding much more straightforward. There are cairns along the route but there are a few variations you can choose from throughout the route that may lead you away from cairns at some points.

In terms of the difficulty for my jump into class three I felt like it was a great starter. There are plenty of class three moves from scrambling to climbing to scooting down on your butt (if you are me!) without having significant exposure or commitment. There were a few moves where we changed our mind about our route or each took slightly different routes and it was never too late to back up and change plans. I highly recommend doing your first class three with someone who has experience in higher class hiking and feels confident in their abilities. While it was still much more mentally exhausting than a class one/two hike, having someone who knew the route and felt confident teaching me about route finding was invaluable!

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