Rotator Placeholder Image
  • Mt. Bierstadt Group Summit - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest before the summit push on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Broken Ankle + 6 Miles = Tired
  • The classic San Juan approach - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Overlooking Noname Basin from Twin Thumbs Pass - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Upper Noname Basin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing Noname Cabin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Twin Thumbs Twins - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing the summit of Pt. 13,736 - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Blustery day on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Morning snow at 15k, Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada
  • Artesonraju from the summit of Nevado Pisco - Cordillera Blanca, Peru
  • February crowds on Gray's Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • Kicking steps on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Final traverse to the summit of Wheeler Mountain - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • The long walk to Pachanta - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner31
    Afternoon at 17k on Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • banner22
    The final ridge on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Summer summit on Longs Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest day at the Pachanta Hot Springs - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Mind over matter on Mt. Parnassas - Front Range, Colorado
  • Rest stop on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner30
    Post nap surprise on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Summit on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner23
    Ridge walking on Grizzly Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Enroute the summit via the West Ridge on Pacific Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Mule train bound for Chilca - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Taking in the view from Fletcher Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Hiking on Silverheels - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Traversing! Gladstone Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • banner24
    The best of times at Willow Lake - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
  • banner29
    High Altitude Cerebral Edema? - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Bound for Chilca - Vilcanota Range, Peru
  • Going alpine light, Holy Cross Ridge - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Cumbre! Campa I - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Roadside lunch with the best of company - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner25
    Long ridge walk to the summit of California Peak - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
  • banner28
    Crossing el Rio Colorado . . . in the afternoon - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • banner37
    Dealing with Fall snows high on Casco Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Moonrise over Mercedario - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Still climbing at 20,900 on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Talus on Halo Ridge, Mt. of the Holy Cross - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • banner26
    Deteriorating conditions on Mt. Arkansas - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • banner27
    After the climb - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • banner38
    Taking in the view from the summit of Crystal Peak - Tenmile Range, Colorado
  • Topping out on Mt. Arkansas' North Couloir - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Glissade on Mt. Arkansas - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Hard snow morning on Teakettle Mountain - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Spring snow announces the start of the climb on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Crossing the Eolus Catwalk - San Juan Range, Colorado

Mount Spalding

September 22, 2002 - West Ridge


Spalding and the Sawtooth from Guanella Pass

Gary and I originally planned to climb Mount Bierstadt via the Sawtooth ridge, approaching from the flank of Mount Spalding.  Gary had not been across the ridge and since we had both been up Bierstadt’s West Ridge route twice, we chose to attempt a crossing in the opposite direction. 
We left Cheyenne at 6 a.m. and fully recognized that we would be making a Cottoneer’s start on this climb.  However, . . . it was September, somewhat cold out, and we were laying our bets that there would not be any afternoon thunderstorm activity.  Neither of us had been out since our Canada trip and we were really looking for little more than a high altitude hike.  We arrived at Guanella Pass, noted the snow line on Bierstadt at about 12,500 feet, and thought that the ledgy section of the Sawtooth might be a bit dicey if covered with a good coating of snow.  Regardless, a 6-mile walk to find out would not hurt either of us.

Squaretop, Argentine, Grays, and Torreys as seen from the flank of Spalding

We took the standard route down from the car park, which had more than a few cars by the time we arrived at 9 a.m.  The trail across the willows is now an elevated highway in some sections and we quickly hiked to the stream crossing from which we would head up Scott Gomer creek toward the flank of Gray Wolf Mountain.  We crossed a boggy section, sticking to reasonably dry ground and aimed for solid ground as soon as possible.  Now it was time to climb and we went up through the trees to intersect a trail leading to a break in the minor headwall, the Dawson course as shown in the 14’er guide.  We crossed the drainage between Gray Wolf and Spalding and then hiked up the grassy slopes, sticking to trail segments where found, some patches of hard packed snow, and more than a few rocks to connect the two.

A bit early for this game?

Once we arrived at a point where we could scope out the Sawtooth, we found that we really did not want to tangle with the shaded and downward sloping section that one must cross to reach the gendarmes.  I crossed the ridge years before and remembered that one section as an area I would not want to traverse on snow without an ice axe and crampons.  Realizing that discretion was the name of this game, we looked toward the top of Spalding and headed up to its rounded summit.  Gary had bagged Evans from Summit Lake years before therefore Spalding was nothing new to him but my Evans climb had been via Bierstadt and the Sawtooth, therefore I was going to score a high 13’er in exchange for our half day effort.

Early snow on Bierstadt and the Sawtooth Ridge

We ate a snack on the summit, sitting behind a boulder that effectively blocked the wind, which seemed to have become noticeably colder over just the last few minutes.  Sooner than later, the packs went back on and we strolled down the long slopes of Spalding to the drainage far below, onto the obvious trail atop the short headwall and down into the willows.  The willows were dry and we made our way through them on decent trail until just about the end when the route braided like mad and we settled for the most traveled path to the parking area.  The climb took us just over 5 hours and though we did not score the ridge, we did get out and warm up the high country legs for the first time in over a month.