September 13, 2016

Mount Evans – 14,264′

14er rank:

# of climbs:
First climbed:
Last climbed:
Routes climbed:


2,764' (Grays Peak - 9.8 mi NW)
Clear Creek County
8.4 mi SSE of Georgetown
12.4 mi SW of Idaho Springs

West Ridge & Gomer's Gully (Class 2)

Google Maps


*This is NOT the standard route up Mount Evans!

This is the 16th 14er I've hiked, back in August 2014 while solo. It is the 14th tallest peak in Colorado and the 3rd tallest in the Front Range. Mount Evans is easily seen from just about anywhere in the Denver metro area, some 30-40 miles off to the east, and can also be seen from the south in the South Park basin. A paved road takes motorists to ~14,000' during the summer months, making the summit of Evans one of the most heavily visited in the state. 

There are probably around a dozen routes up Mount Evans, and it's hard to designate one as the official standard route since many are quite popular. Obviously, one could simply follow the Mount Evans Road to the top and call it a day, although the road isn't all that direct and adds many unnecessary miles to the hike. A very popular route approaches Mount Evans from its northeast side, beginning at Summit Lake at 12,850', only 1,400' below the summit. It begins by first summiting 13,842' Mount Spalding via its east ridge, descends south to the 13,580' saddle between Spalding and Evans, and then follows the ridgeline south and then east to the Mount Evans summit. A longer route that brings hikers up to Summit Lake begins farther down at ~10,600' and is also apparently quite popular. Alternatively, one could ascend Evans via its northeast face, which avoids the additional elevation gain associated with ascending Mount Spalding. 

As usual, I avoided (some of) the crowds by hiking in on a longer and more scenic route, via the Mount Evans west ridge. This begins at the Guanella Pass Trailhead at 11,640', west of Mount Evans, and happens to be the standard trailhead for Mount Bierstadt. So, while I avoided the Mount Evans crowd, I had to deal with the mass of people attempted to summit Bierstadt. Since Bierstadt is probably the easier peak to hike, the crowds at Guanella Pass might be worse.

Either way, after hiking down the main Bierstadt trail for about a mile, the route leaves the main trail, and the crowds, to the left (north) and begins following Scott Gomer Creek through the willows around Bierstadt's broad northwest ridge. An unreliable trail meanders through the willows and is easy to lose, so please read a more detailed route description if attempting this way up the mountain. The main idea is the continue up the creek on its south side into the basin below Bierstadt's north face. As you enter the basin, you will be looking toward the ridge on the left for a large and obvious gully that splits between Mount Spalding on the left and the steep cliffs on the right that make up the Sawtooth Ridge between Bierstadt and Evans. This gully, called "Gomer's Gully", leads up to the wide grassy slopes on the west side of the Evans-Spalding saddle.  

As you approach the gully, you should be able to locate a thin trail that leads across a flat grassy area on the other (east) side of the creek near 11,750'. Follow this trail up into the gully, where it zig-zags ~1,400' up the loose rock to the base of the grassy slopes at ~13,200'. Continue up the slopes and begin angling to the right as you near the top of the ridge. Eventually, you will come across a cairned trail, which is the semi-standard trail that follows the ridgeline from Mount Spalding to the Evans summit. From here, the remainder of the route is straightforward and the summit is easy to spot. Just look for the domed observatory just below it, next to the parking lot where all the lazy people park.

On the day I did this hike, there were probably upwards of 50 people on the summit at one point. I also nabbed the sub-summit "West Evans", a 14,256' point along the ridgeline west of the main summit. I descended back the way I came and enjoyed a relatively peaceful and isolated hike back to my car, encountering maybe 4-5 other hikers. Just one thing to add... the views to the west from the broad slopes above Gomer's Gully are spectacular. From there, you have excellent views of Guanella Pass, 13ers Square Top Mountain and Argentine Peak, and 14ers Grays and Torreys Peaks. In summer, there will be lots of green and probably a host of alpine sunflowers and other wildflowers. 


Trip Reports

Mount Evans (August 2014)