Route Info:Mountains: Mt. Democrat (14,148’)
Route: Started at 10,900' on Kite Lake Rd. (Park County 8), skirted the East slope up partway to the Democrat-Cameron saddle and up to the summit. Stuck close to the East ridge on the descent to Kite Lake and back to the TH.
Elevation Gain - 3250’ (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 9 miles
On the Trail
After spending quality time digging out poor Princo's stranded automobile at Columbia the previous day, the weekend needed some salvaging. There weren't too many more calendar Winter weekends left in the year. After failing to find a climbing partner at such short notice I decided to drive myself to something close the next day. Democrat seemed a nice way to spend Sunday. I left home at 5AM, out to Fairplay along 285. The forecast looked fantastic... Sunny, 30F at 13045' with moderate winds. I had to stop on the highway to get a shot of the sun coming up to continue making his 365 x 5 billionth trip across the blue... yet still doing justice to his work.
Sunrise on 285S
I got to the trailhead at around 7:45AM, ate breakfast, geared up and hit the trail at 8:15AM or thereabouts. I took snowshoes in anticipation of some post-holing up by Kite lake and up the East slopes. I saw two other skiiers gearing up just before I began hiking. It was breezy down at the trailhead although my thermometer showed it was rather warm at the promised 30F. I started up the trail with snowshoes on along the patches of snow on the trail. I had to stop 25 minutes later to take them off later and stash them away on my pack. The rest of the trail was manageable in boots although I punched through from time to time. Here's looking back down the trail.
Trail to Kite Lake
All the way up the trail the temperature dropped slowly down to 24F. At ~9:45AM I reached the bathrooms up by Kite lake and decided to go into one of them and brew up some Ramen and melt my semi-frozen gatorade. I drank some tea and inhaled the Ramen. I took it easy and it was 10:30 before I lazily left the room to see another climber approaching the area. Ramen is like magic potion... it must be the 40% Sodium on the nutrition (not so) label. I donned snowshoes again and headed around the lake to the base of the East slope. I went a little past the standard trail to where I could see rockbands. The snow on the East slope was punctuated with rock and Sastrugi. I took the following route...
Route up the East Slope
Bross looks in PRIME condition for a riveting summit ski descent...
I met two other climbers and a dog descending down the East slope. They claimed -32F windchills on the summit. They'd started at 3:30AM that morning. Here's looking up at the route above me...
East Slopes of Democrat
and down into the basin below...
Basin below Democrat
Here's more of that mouth-watering beta on Bross for the ski mountaineers...
Here's looking down at the basin... also seen is the climber who I saw down at the bathrooms...
I was a stone's throw away from the gnarr known as Mt. Cameron.
A little past 12:30PM I was looking at the summit. The wind was probably 20-30mph sustained with the occasional 40mph gust appearing uninvited from time to time.
Here's looking back down the summit ridge...
Looking down the Summit Ridge of Democrat
My thermometer registered 23F with 40mph gusts. Pretty warm for a mid-January ascent. The route over to Lincoln appears below...
Lincoln and Cameron
Here's a look at the route up to Kite Lake...
Route up to Kite Lake
Here's a look down the SW ridge... This looks like an interesting Winter ascent route.
SW ridge up Democrat
I stayed on a nice wind shelter on summit for a while. I left at 1PM and descended staying along the standard summer trail for most of the way. The trail is partially snow-covered. Here's looking up at it.
Standard summer trail Democrat
Standard summer trail Democrat - 2
At 2PM I was back down near Kite Lake. The winds had picked up throughout the day but were no more than a minor nuisance. Here's looking back at my ascent (blue) and descent (red) routes. As you can see I assembled these two images with a good deal of mediocrity. The red route was pretty fun to descend but deep boot prints pointing upwards suggested it might not have been as much fun during the ascent.
My Route up and down Democrat
Here's looking back up at the mountain with winds stirring the summit ridge.
A sight for sore eyes in the form of my Jeep appeared before me a little after 3PM. A successful weekend and 14th Winter 14er.
Back to the Trailhead