The Sawtooth – 7/29/06

Originally written 7/29/06

Some of you may remember last year’s report where I intended to climb Mt. Bierstadt, cross the sawtooth ridge, and go up Mt. Evans, but turned around after Bierstadt. Well, I finally did it, and I have no intention of ever going up there again.

I drug myself out of bed at 3am, ate, and was out the door just after 4. I got to the parking lot for the trail at 5:30, but apparently spent so much time screwing around and getting ready, I didn’t get on the trail until 6. It was a very nice morning, and this was the first thing I saw on trail.

I then got a nice shot of the ridge I’d be crossing before too long, backlit by the rising sun.

And what’s this behind me? Oooo…

No pictures on the way up to Bierstadt, because it’s boring and I’ve already been there twice. But from the top..

And my ultimate goal for the day, Mt. Evans.

But it wouldn’t be easy, especially since I had my dog along, and this is how I had to get there:

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. I had to pick up my dog and carry her short distances in a few places, but she handled most of it on her own. No pictures from en-route there because I was too concerned with moving and keeping my dog from falling to stop for pictures.

Towards the end of the route, you switch over to the west side of the ridge, so there was a good photo op there.

And the way out of this mess:

Looks fun…

A nice, loose, steep, highly exposed exit ramp. Outstanding. Well, we made it, and here’s the view back across what we covered:

A beautiful view from the Sawtooth:

While I was here, I figured I should go hop on Mt. Spalding, since it’s a high 13er and I didn’t want to have to come back for that, if I ever decided to start after the 13ers. It was also only about 20 minutes off my route. No pictures, since it was boring.

I finally hopped on the ridge over to Evans, and trudged along for an hour and a half, maybe two. It was long and tiring. And when I got there, I was blessed with this beautiful view:

Sigh.

Anyway, since the cool part of the day was the Sawtooth, I got a picture of me and the dog with the ridge behind us. Everyone was shocked that she made it across the Sawtooth ridge.

After about 10 minutes of heading back from that point, I was able to see just how far I had to go.

Sigh x 2.

Going down the valley that drops down just in front of me in the picture there is very steep, wet, loose, and all around crappy, but it’s the only real option. I’ll spare you the uglyness, and instead focus on the cool stuff.

After getting down that valley, I spent an hour or more bashing willows through a swamp. My shoes got soaked with swamp muck, and at times the willows were over my head, with no game trail to follow, so I just had to bash through while pulling my dog along.

Total Distance: Approx 12 miles
Difficulty: Mostly class 2 with a decent amount of class 3 and even a couple class 4 moves to try to get around some of those goddamned willows
Gross elevation gain: approx 1 mile
Car->Car time: 7h58m

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Torreys and Grays Peaks – 7/22/06

Originally written 7/22/06

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve made one of these. No, I haven’t been completely idle, just busy with work, and I haven’t done anything interesting enough for a thread. Plus, my camera sucks.

So, the story. Yesterday I had to be at work before 5am to make sure we were ready for a concrete pour. Sucked. Went to bed at 8pm, woke up at 5:30am today fully refreshed, so figured it’s a little late but what the hell, I might as well go climb something. My dog needed the exercise anyway, and I hadn’t been mountain climbing in a few weeks now. Got up, coffee, quick breakfast, get dressed, and go.

Got there around 7:45, used the can, and hit the trail.

The trailhead is at 11,240′. I had forgotten how cold high alpine valleys can be in the morning, even in July. The sun was making its way up at this point, with pretty spectacular views.

The sun crested up over the ridge not much later.

I was getting pretty damn warm at this point. Apparently fast hiking with a 30lb pack generates a lot of heat. I was wearing my new REI Mistral pants, which seem to be some pretty great 3-season pants. The thing is, the 3 seasons are fall/winter/spring. Way way way too warm for a summer day with calm winds.

I made my way up Torreys Peak (14,267′) first, sat down, and kicked back for a bit.

In my hand is a New Belgium Trippel, an excellent beer that weighs in at 7.8% ABV. I had two of them this day, roughly equivalent to four american light beers. I enjoyed the view as I drank my beers for a half hour or so.

For some reason, I was able to largely ignore this, which was almost directly behind me:

After a snack, I got up and meandered over to Grays Peak. Nice view from there too.

But then I looked up, and wasn’t too excited about what I saw.

The clouds were swirling and building very, very quickly, so I beat a hasty retreat.

Anyway, I rigged up a google earth file of my track, taken from my gps. I thought some people might appreciate it so [url=http://beanmj.googlepages.com/gtbeer.kmz]here[/url] it is. All my future HAI threads should have these tracks along with them. I’ve got one planned for the near future that should be pretty sweet to look at.

Yes, I’ve done these mountains before, and reported on them with a much more interesting route. Deal.

Dog: