Mount Bierstadt
Colorado 14er
14,060 feet
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Bierstadt from the Guanella Pass trailheadMt Bierstadt is the 39th highest peak in Colorado. It is part of the Front Range and is very close to Denver. The nearest town is Georgetown. It is a little over 6 miles roundtrip using the western slope - Guanella Pass route where you gain a short 2391 feet starting from a trailhead at 11,691'. While this is a 14'er, it is not very difficult and a short day as well - just 4 to 6 hours for most climbers.

I have climbed it 6 times as of 2012. This report is from my first climb in 2004.

I climbed it in May 2004. It was 2.5 hours up and 1.5 down for a 4 hour roundtrip for me. I wanted to get out and get some conditioning work as I was training for a Rainier climb a couple of months later.

The approach is a little unique for a Colorado 14'er. You take Interstate 70 to Georgetown and go South on Colorado State highway 285 for 10 miles. The road switches from asphalt to dirt as it climbs higher and higher. Once near the Guanella pass, there are signs and parking on the left side of the road which mark the trail to Bierstadt. You can easily see the peak from here as shown in the picture above.

Boardwalk above the willowsMany guide books and reports talk about the "horrible willows" in the first mile. Well, that has all changed. Today there is a civilized boardwalk that allows for easy access above the three foot scrub willows. It is almost embarrassing walking on these on the way to a Fourteener!

Once pass the willows, the trail meanders up the hillside in a lazy switchback. Since you start above treeline, there is no sense of progress. The trail becomes a little steeper here and there but nothing very serious as you gain altitude.

I climbed it in early Spring (May in Colorado) so as I went higher, there was more and more snow. I had snowshoes but did not need them like I had two weeks earlier on Quandary. Above 13,000' the snow became soft and I sunk up to my calves several times. The wind picked up and a short snow sqaull hit the west side of the mountain. I was glad I had my gortex jacket with hood for these brief moments.

The final 300' to the summit is a nice finish to the climb. It is at enough of an angle that you feel like you are climbing but not some much that it is very difficult. And then, you are there! The views are very nice all around. And there is an "interesting" view of the summit of Mt. Evans complete with the visitor's center!!

Click on the summit picture to te right for a 360 degree video from the top.Final few feet to the summit in May 2004Click for a full 360' video from the summit

All in all, Mt. Bierstadt is another easy 14'er. Easy to get to and easy to climb. There are more difficult routes including some Class 3s and a traverse across the Sawtooth to Evans. This makes a long but more challenging day and you get two "easy" 14'ers.

I would highly recommend Mt. Bierstadt for a winter training climb, a first 14'er or for small kids accompanied by competent adults. However, no matter your reason or experience always take the 10 essentials in your pack and lot's of food and water.