Aug 302009

A couple weeks ago we attempted the ‘Tour D’Abyss’ hike.  This ‘route’ starts near the top of Mt Evans, heads down about 800 ft. into the gulley then up the east ridge ~1500′ ft. to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt at 14060’ ft.

We started off from Mt. Evans around 8:00am.  It was a bit chilly, 28 degrees with the wind chill, but as we made our way down into the gulley it was warming up quickly, especially once we got out of the wind.

The way down was a little sketchy, lots of sand and loose rock, but manageable.  Once we got down into the gulley it was beautiful, lots of green grass and tons of wildflowers!  We made our way up to Abyss Lake along a nice smooth trail.  Once at the lake we stopped for a bit at and had a snack before we took on the ridge.

After our snack we searched around for a decent looking way to get up the ridge.  Once started, we were ascending very quickly but it sure was steep climb.  We didn’t get a break from hand-over-foot climbing until we had climbed 600-700 ft.  Once there it was bouldering over larger boulders to the ridge.  The ridge itself was very nice at the top had a great view in each direction.  After a quick break, we headed along the ridge and up another 500 ft. to the top of Bierstadt, running into a Mountain goat making a similar journey over the ridge as well.

Poor Karen was having a headache problem, and by the time we hit the summit of Bierstadt were pretty beat.  We actually discussed trying to somehow bribe someone into a ride back to our car on Evans!  LOL! Part of the problem is that we really didn’t plan very well for the trek across the Sawtooth, and by looking at it were were very unsure about how to safely get across it.  Because of this, and the sheer effort it would take to get over the Sawtooth and back up to the top of Evans, we decided to abort the mission and just head back do town Abyss Lake.

The climb down to the lake was ugly and it was much steeper than I expected.  We were literally sliding down the hill on our butts in some places.  It took us a good couple hours to make it back down the 1500 ft. to the lake.  At this point I was definitely ready for this hike to be over with but we still had to get around the lake, down the gully, and then an 800 ft. climb back up to the car.

Another hour and a half passed and we made it to the bottom of the gully where we need to head back up to the car.  I was beat down by this point and didn’t have, well ANY, great thoughts about the climb up I’m looking at. 

We started up the bottom where it was just a steep hill, making frequent stops due to fatigue and just being winded.  By the time we were half way up the ridge we were now climbing.  This was the type of climbing we both are definitely not skilled or experience at.  The type of climbing where we are requiring good handholds to make it up each few feet.  I even got my self stuck in a spot, with not much of a good hood on anything.  At once point I had even looked back down below me trying to plan how I was going to control the fall to minimize injury I was sure I was about to take.  Luckily Karen had been able to get around in another spot and had somehow found a good handhold under a boulder so she could get her foot out to get me a handhold.  No exaggeration here, I was was in a REALLY bad spot, with 400+ feet of rocks I would have just tumbled down if I had fallen.  YES, I certainly agree that at this time were we in a STUPID position.  We eventually made it to the top and hobbled back to the car.

This may have been some of the most difficult hiking I’ve ever done, and possibly the dumbest.  I certainly plan on going back to do the route I had intended to someday, but will be better prepared.

I need to say ‘I Love You’ to my Karen and ‘THANK YOU!’, you may have saved my life that day.

Here are the pictures we took: