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Mount Evans - 14er
September 2, 2013
Front Range - Clear Creek County, Colorado

For Sheila's birthday, though belatedly, we once again took to the mountains to climb another Colorado 14er. This time the target was Mount Evans an often overlooked 14er due to a fact that there is a road to the summit, the highest road in North America actually. Yet despite the road, there are a number of interesting routes that you can take to make it a challenging and enjoyable hike.
The route we opted for was the "West Ridge via Mt. Spalding" route in which you start at Summit Lake and first ascend the 13er Mt. Spalding before circling around the West Ridge of Mount Evans and tackling the summit. The route is not long at only 5.5 miles round trip (shorter if you take the fast descent down) and only gains 2,000 feet in elevation. But it is a Class 2 route with some more scrambling and route finding that some of the other "easier" 14ers and I thought the terrain was very interesting, the views fantasitc, and the hike was well worth the trip.
The first three images show a depiction of the West Ridge via Mt. Spalding route and it is also shown from an aerial view. (Images courtesy of and Google Earth)
A view of Echo Lake just after dawn and where Mt Evans road begins towards the summit.
A view of Summit Lake where we parked after driving above timberline. It was a little chilly still so early in the morning.
The trail starts at the north end of Summit Lake, if you look closely you can see the fence line we will follow to the start of the trail.
An impressive wall of solid rock.
Starting our ascent of Mt. Spalding.
An example of class 2 scrambling.
A view back to Summit Lake and parking lot we started at with Mount Evans summit across the way.
Looking back at a view of Chicago Lakes.
A few steps away from serious exposure.
Climbing a steep section to a top the ridge before the Mt. Spalding summit.
Interesting section. The route was not perfectly clear here and we had to look for cairns.
On top of the ridge leading to Mt. Spalding summit.
People on top of the Mt. Spalding summit where we will be shortly.
On the summit of Mt. Spaliding looking toward the west ridge of Mount Evans.
Great views to the West.
Hiking in the saddle between Mt. Spalding and Mt. Evans.
Looking back at the descent into the saddle from Mt. Spalding.
Brendan with Mt. Bierstadt in the background, another popular "easier" 14er.
A good look at "The Sawtooth", the class 3 ridge leading to Mt. Bierstadt. Some people do the much longer hike of Bierstadt and Evans in one day.
Hiking below the West Ridge of Mt. Evans. This section required constant route finding, searching ahead for the next cairn.
Not for the faint of heart.
After a few "false summits", finally a view of the real Mt. Evans summit with people on top.
Last switchback before the summit.
Mission accomplished!
Amazing view to the south.
Due to impending weather rolling in, we decided to descend the shorter route straight down the face of Mt. Evans to the road.
This route was almost all scree which required constant vigilance to prevent a sliding, slipping and falling.
It was raining on us at this point and streams started to form in the tundra.
Finally down on the road and hiking back to the parking lot.
Another view of Summit Lake.
A shot of the scary, white knuckle road back down.
Nice stream at the bottom near Echo Lake.