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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Mount Bierstadt

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

June 2, 2022

Mount Bierstadt (14, 060 feet)

Route: alltrails

7.3 miles; 2730 feet elevation gain

Total time: 6 hours 30 minutes

A repeat mountain for both Nyx and I, but with an ideal weather window and only a half day of time we had to go for it. We had gotten snow Sunday-Wednesday so we knew to expect some fresh snow but there was really no guess of how much. The road opened the previous weekend so no added mileage, like last year.

Hike Summary

We left home at 3:30am and started hiking at 5am with my friend Ally and her dog Maggie. It was a warm 36 degrees at the trailhead with no wind at all. We were the first ones on the trail. The first two miles (ish?) are in the willows and were wet and muddy since it hadn't frozen the night before. Gaiters were a lifesaver! There was one large creek crossing at 1.5 miles in that is fairly deep with slippery rocks. Once you get out of the willows we were on snow the rest of the hike. There was a trench for a while which kept us moving at a quick pace. When we reached around 13,000 feet the trench ended. There was no visible trail or tracks and the snow varied for the next 1.5 miles/1000 feet of elevation gain between ankle deep and waist deep. We didn't use snowshoes and I don't think they would have helped. Poles were extremely helpful though. This 1.5 miles took us almost 2 hours, a sufferfest of postholing. We alternated who broke trail and who had footsteps to conserve energy. The 1-2 feet deep snow continued all the way to the summit. It took much longer than expected but we made it to the summit, largely thanks to perfect weather conditions. It took 4 hours to ascend, 30 minute break on top, another 30 minute break on the way down and 1.5 hours to descend. We hoped to glissade part of the way down but it was already too soft by 9am. Once in the willows it was slushy, muddy and wet all the way back to the car. We were the first group to summit that day and while that meant breaking trail at a high elevation, it is always a bonus reward. Overall an amazing day on the mountain that made me very happy that climbing season is back.

This is probably the busiest 14er in Colorado but we had a nice quiet day, only seeing a handful of other people and no dogs. I would highly recommend doing it on a weekday especially in the summer! Just because this is often labeled as an easier 14er do not underestimate it, it is still a long and strenuous hike with dramatic condition changes!

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