Mt Bross is the 22nd highest of the Colorado 14er's and is essentially a Class 1 hike from Mt Lincoln, however, the descent is mostly a class 2 scree descent. It is usually climbed after Mt Democrat and Mt Lincoln by climbers who want to bag 3 peaks in a day. The trailheads are the same for Bross as for Mt Democrat and Mt Lincoln, with Kite Lake being the most popular trailhead. If you climb Bross from the Kite Lake trailhead and skip Democrat/ Lincoln then the hike is a 2.8 mile hike with 2170 feet elevation gain and is a class 2 hike. Mt. Bross is a cake walk after Mt Democrat and Lincoln...as it is only a slight descent and a slight climb from Mt Lincoln. The summit is just an over sized gently rolling hill top. Concrete bunkers to protect from the wind are about the only way to even determine the summit as the summit is flat and broad. By far the easiest of the 3 mountains usually climbed together. The descent was the most fun part. The trail back to Kite Lake seems to disappear and people were going down all different routes. The descent is over scree so be careful of falling rocks and other climbers above and below you.
As of June 2005, certain landowners had blocked access to Democrat, Lincoln, Cameron and Bross because of private property and liability issues. However, according to an Associated Press article dated August 8, 2006, the town of Alma recently leased the land for these 14ers for a total of $1 a month and plans to open the trails sometime next year. The town enjoys governmental immunity in lawsuits, which limits how much it could be sued for. Great news!
From Denver take I-70 west to exit 203, head south through Brekenridge on Hwy 9 to Alma. You can also reach Alma out of Denver on Hwy 285 to Fairplay then north 8 miles to Alma. Across the street from a general store type building in the center of Alma head west up Buckskin Creek Road. You will know you are on the right road if you see the creek on the left. If you want to make at least 3000 ft altitude gain, proceed up Buckskin Road about 4 miles and park at a turnout. Most people start from Kite Lake which is a few more miles up the road. A couple creeks cross the road, so be sure to scout them before crossing. A 4 WD and being high can be helpful here. If you cant cross the creeks park then hike the rest of the way to Kite Lake. Parking is also available at Kite Lake for $3 in the summer.
Camping is readily available at Kite Lake. Some campers pitch tents next to their cars and others hike uptrail some for a little more quiet camping. Camping is not a problem here. Speedy adds: There is now ( I was there in July 2003) a $3.00 fee to park at the Kite Lake trailhead and a $7.00 fee to camp. The honor system is used to collect the fee. Parking is ample and many campsites have firepits.
Mt Bross can be reached by going up to the Mt Democrat/ Mt Cameron saddle then climbing the right ridge heading northeast to Mt Cameron summit. From Cameron a trail descends some and then follows around to the big nearly flat summit of Mt Bross. If you are coming from Mt Lincoln, head back towards Mt Cameron, but before reaching the summit follow the trail that basically contours around to Mt Bross. A short climb at the end of the contour and you are on the rolling flat summit. The descent is usually a straight descent back to Kite Lake through a bunch of scree. This can be dangerous, so watch your footing and try to avoid other climbers above or below you, as falling rocks are somewhat common on the decsent. Latest weather conditions are on a recorded phone message at 303-275-5360.
Conditions on this mountain, like all Colorado 14ers, are subject to change rapidly- especially during the prime climbing summer season. The mountains are their own weather system, and weather forecasts from nearby towns often have little to do with actual mountain conditions. You can generally count on clear to partly cloudy in the morning, and heavy clouds and thunderstorms in the afternoon during the summer.
There is no substitute for getting an early start, and getting as much of the mountain "behind you" as early in the day as possible. Keep a good eye on the sky as weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly. The greatest weather danger is from lightning strikes, and climbers are killed almost every summer in Colorado by lightning strikes. July seems to be the most deadly month for lightning.
Two climbers were killed by lightning in Colorado within a couple days of each other in the summer of 2003. I think the following important information from Gerry Roach's book "Colorado's Fourteeners From Hikes to Climbs" bears repeating. Added here with permission from Gerry Roach:
Colorado is famous for apocalyptic lightning storms that threaten not just your life, but your soul as well. This section will have special meaning if you have ever been trapped by a storm that endures for more than an hour and leaves no gap between one peal of thunder and the next. The term simultaneous flash-boom has a very personal meaning for many Colorado Climbers
1. Lightning is dangerous!
2. Lightning is the greatest external hazard to summer mountaineering in Colorado.
3. Lightning kills people every year in Colorado's mountains.
4. Direct hits are usually fatal.
1. Start early! Be off summits by noon and back in the valley by early afternoon.
2. Observe thunderhead buildup carefully, noting speed and direction; towering thunderheads with black bottoms are bad.
3. When lightning begins nearby, count the seconds between flash and thunder, then divide by 5 to calculate the distance to the flash in miles. Repeat to determine if lightning is approaching.
4. Try to determine if the lightning activity is cloud-to-cloud or ground strikes.
5. Get off summits and ridges.
1. You cannot outrun a storm; physics wins.
2. When caught, seek a safe zone in the 45-degree cone around an object 5 to 10 times your height.
3. Be aware of ground currents; the current from a ground strike disperses along the ground or cliff, especially in wet cracks.
4. Wet ropes are good conductors.
5. Snow is not a good conductor.
6. Separate yourself from metal objects.
7. Avoid sheltering in spark gaps under boulders and trees.
8. Disperse the group. Survivors can revive one who is hit.
9. Crouch on boot soles, ideally on dry, insulating material such as moss or grass. Dirt is better than rock. Avoid water.
The following link is also helpful: Lightning Safety and Crouch
Also see this report by nchenkin It will make you really think about lightning safety: Struck By Lightning!
ATTENTION WINTER CLIMBERS: I received an email from Scott Farish about an accident he experienced on neighboring Mt. Democrat in October 2002. If you plan on doing the Democrat/ Lincoln/ Bross combo, please read the account WINTER ACCIDENT ON MOUNT DEMOCRAT
COLORADO 14ERS INITIATIVE LEARN MORE ABOUT COLORADO 14ERS AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Leave No Trace
Check out the web site of LNT and learn some important minimum impact hiking tips.
Colorado Mountain Club
CMC’s web site will tell you all you need to know about Colorado’s largest and oldest hiking club.