Mt 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
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.
Many 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
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.