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« previous | next » Bierstadt, Evans, and the Sawtooth Traverse
4 June 2006
After my fellow NIST interns and I had been in Boulder for two weeks, we decided to climb a fourteener. In characteristically bold manner, we decided to do two in the same day. Bierstadt and Evans are the closest fourteeners to Denver, and are probably the easiest to climb (by themselves). Bierstadt's summit is only three miles from the parking lot, and Evans actually has a paved road all the way to the top. However, these two otherwise uninteresting peaks are connected by the thrilling Sawtooth ridge, a jagged ridgeline that makes it possible to visit both summits in the same day.

The traverse starts with a steep descent from Bierstadt, a section where we did a lot of sliding on our butts, followed by an airy walk along the right flank of the ridge crest. To get around the large, angular Sawtooth, the route crosses over to the left side of the ridge, where sheer drops abound and the rocks do not always stay still when you walk on them. A steep, 200 yard pitch up a ramp of loose rock on the side of the Sawtooth brings you to a flat area, and a long walk across a boulder field eventually takes you to the tourist-clogged summit of Evans.

The route was harder than I thought it would be. Two of our eight turned back at Bierstadt, and I had a lot of trouble making it to the summit of Evans. By the time we got there, it was 4pm, and that is no time to be on top of mountains. We split up. Dan, Josh, and Pat embarked on a fast descent down to the Bierstadt parking lot, while Matt, Aaron and I, all exhausted, walked down the side of the Mt. Evans road, where we hoped to meet up with Lauren.

At this point we met our Subaru Saviors, a young couple with two dogs who had parked their car in a turnout while hiking around the cirque. They were also walking the last stretch of their hike along the road and offered us a ride down. And so we went, driving down the (actually longer than we thought) road, exchanging stories of fearsome feats in the outdoors and discussing our mutual dislike for pedophiles. Meanwhile, Lauren, who was parked in a turnout, somehow spotted me in the car as it drove by and followed us all the way down the mountain, surprising us at the bottom when we finally got through on the cell phone ("Hi, we're in Idaho Springs and we're-" "Uh-huh.. yeah.. okay.. look behind you." "What?"). It's actually a pretty good story, and I tell it to my friends all the time.
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