6.12.2004

Three Down...

Fifty to go. Well to summit all of the "official" fourteeners anyway. For those of you who don't know, a fourteener is a paek in Colorado that is over 14,000 feet. Last year I climbed two of them, Grays and Torreys Peaks. During this past week one of the guys at work was talking about heading out and crossing a few more summits off the list, the plan was to hike the Decalibron, a route that hits Mts. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross. (De-Ca-Li-Bro-n, clever huh?) The loop is 7 miles, gains appx 3600 total feel of elevation, and can easily be done in one day, provided good conditions. All four summits are over 14,000, however Cameron is not an official peak, because it rises less than 300 feet from the ridge connecting it to the higher Mt Lincoln. Essentially this makes it a "false summit" of Lincoln, but it is named on the map, so I guess that makes it officially unofficial. Well the plan was good, start early, head to Kite Lake and start climbing. The weather didn't fully cooperate, however, and we had to settle for only climbing Democrat today.

The trail up to the connecting saddle at 13,340 wasn't bad, the trail was in great shape, didn't have much snow on it all, and was relatively gentle, for a fourteener anyway. From here, to get to the top of Democrat you have to climb up a rocky ridge, again not too steep, but more difficult than just trail climbing. Along this section it started to snow a bit, but it wasn't bad, visibility was excellent and the rock didn't get slippery. A few people coming down the trail made comments that they felt a bit of static electricity, and were worried about lightning and heading down. Not wanting to risk it, we descended to a safe point and waited for a while to see if the snow shower would break, about 15 minutes later it did and we saw a window of opportunity to summit before it snowed again. We estimated it would take us about 20 minutes to summit and were on the summit in just about that much time. We summmited, taking our pictures of course, and then headed back down to the saddle for a snack break before pressing on. While at the saddle another light snow shower moved in and we decided that rather than playing tag with the weather, we would call it a day and head back. There is always another day to climb the rest of the peaks, and with the weather unpredictable, we decided to be safe. The descent was uneventful and we saw no more snow, however there were some more clouds moving in to the summits. We crossed a few light rain showers on the drive back home, so it was probably wise that we cancelled the remainder of our trip. All in all to summit Democrat took us 2 hours, gaining 2150 feet of elevation over about 3 miles. I guess the other peaks will have to wait until another day.