Below TimberlineMountains: Mt. Lincoln (14,286’) and Mt. Cameron (14,238’)
Route: Started at 11,000’ on Kite Lake Rd. (Park County 8), gained Cameron’s West Ridge high on the Democrat-Cameron saddle via occasional rock ribs, traversed to Lincoln and back, skirted Cameron on the East side, descended SE to the Cameron-Bross saddle. Descended the Western slopes of Mt. Bross down to Kite Lake.
Elevation Gain - 3600’ (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 9 miles (approx)
Roundtrip Time - 10:30
Winter summits have been hard to come by this year. It’s been cold, windy, and new avalanche paths are being created at will. Jamie (Princo, for the rest of this report) and Jamie (Nellis), two local climbers, my co-worker Julie and I drove out to Fairplay early on Saturday morning for an attempt on Mt. Lincoln and Cameron. We had a fine forecast for a change… 10% chance snow, 35-45mph winds and 60mph gusts at 12,753’, -23F windchills predicted. It would be much warmer than the -45F windchill at Sherman’s trailhead the previous weekend. We got to the trailhead at 8:20AM and Princo’s thermometer measured 15F. We geared up and started walking up the packed trail at 9AM. We decided to leave snowshoes in the car since we weren’t expecting deep snow along most of the planned route. It turned out to be a good decision. Parts of the road were blown dry and the rest was packed snow.
It was pretty warm where we were but we started seeing signs of the promised strong winds and spin drift up on the high ridges and summits.
Spindrift on Democrat
Banshee Activity on the High Ridges
The Upper Basin
We soon broke treeline and the winds started engaging us in some polite conversation. It was facemask/ski-goggle time. We reached Kite Lake at around 10:15AM and decided to take a break at the restroom to rest, eat and re-hydrate. After a rather long break, we continued on up the bench to the upper basin between the peaks. Occasional trail-breaking was necessary from here onward. After a short break to evaluate our options, we decided to use sporadic rock bands to avoid slide terrain and gain the saddle between Democrat and Cameron.
Slope up to the Saddle
Heading up for the Saddle
Bross looked pretty dry except for one of the West face couloirs.
Up to the Saddle Over to Summit
Here’s looking down the basin from the base of the Democrat-Cameron saddle.
Julie makes her way up to one of the patches of rock.
The wind was picking up and his choice of conversation was now becoming mildly annoying. We gained elevation with a decent enough rhythm moving from rock band to rock band.
Avoiding Slide Terrain
The sun was out all day and we got to take in some great scenery.
We soon made it up to the saddle and followed the gentle sloping ridge up to Cameron’s summit. We were now in the midst of some serious, incessant Banshee activity. It was not too cold, but sustained wind speeds made it hard to walk straight lines. Cameron’s summit and the ridge over to Lincoln were pretty dry.
Cameron from Lincoln
We made Lincoln’s summit at 3:30PM, Julie’s first summit of an official 14er in calendar winter (Mt. Bross in the background).
Julie and I left the summit after a minute, to rejoin the Jamies who were now waiting for us at the Lincoln-Cameron saddle. We skirted Cameron’s summit on the east side, traversing across a couple small snowfields to get on the ridge over to Bross. The ridge over to Bross was blown dry. We walked the ridge for a short distance and descended down the partially dry scree fields on the Western slopes of Bross. The scree slope met the lower section of a snow-filled West Face couloir on Bross. We descended this couloir down to the basin and after a short break at the rest room, donned headlamps and walked back down to the trailhead… a rewarding day out in the mountains. Winter is the best.