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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-02-07||Route: South Slope - Right Couloir to SE Ridge
Info: Climbed Democrat (and Cameron, Bross) via what looks like the longest (steepest?) couloir on its south face, then continued to the summit along the SE Ridge. Snow on approach was fine with only an occasional bit of post-holing - took snowshoes but did not use them. The couloir itself was about half awesome climbing and half waist deep swimming in thick glop up to around 50 degrees. At the time of climbing i judged there to be minimal avi hazard. Used crampons the entire length of the couloir but probably could have gotten away with out them. Upper portion of SE ridge and good portions of the trails to Cameron and Bross were mostly windswept with no traction or flotation devices needed. Pretty windy on the summits and ridge-lines and was gusting hard enough between Cameron and Bross to knock me over. Bluebird skies turned ominous as I was leaving the summit of Bross but all of the precip passed to the south. Overall, it was fine day in the hills.
|2015-01-29||Route: East Slopes
Info: Parking area at Paris Mill approx 2.5 miles from the trail head. The remainder of the road is wind blown, sun baked, hard-pack, no need for snowshoes. The trail is clearly visible on the opposite side of Kite Lake and did take some post-holing to get to. The trail disappears around the Kentucky Belle Mine but you can easily hike straight up the firm, shallow snow field in the initial ascent towards the saddle around 12,400‘. At the top of the snowfield two large cairns allow you to reconnect with the trail. Not much for snow left on the east slope so getting to the saddle is pretty straight forward. The snow loaded trail is easy follow, spikes definitely helped. Once at the saddle there are some wind loaded areas but enough exposed rock to scramble up the ridge line and the trail is just visible enough every so often to stay on track. The trail traverses to the left just below a heavily wind loaded area and then disappears under the snow. The lookers left edge of the snow field was very firm making for a quick ascent to the top of the east slope with spikes. From there, an easy walk to the summit. Only slightly sketchy part was coming down from the top of the east slope to reconnect with the trail traversing back to the saddle. Steep and slick, could have used poles.
|2014-12-11||Route: East Slopes
Info: The road is still snowed in, 3 miles from Kite Lake Trailhead. You would need a serious 4wd with chains to get all the way to the TH, we parked on the paved road and hiked. We used microspikes which worked well. Snowshoes on the road are probably not a great idea, you hike through alternating patches of snow and gravel. The snow on the road to the TH was soft and varied from 8 inches to 2 ft. I would definitely take snowshoes and trekking poles with you, otherwise you will be post-holing all the way up to the peak. Some deeper snow at the end of the road, then it gets progressively deeper after the TH. We hit some strong headwinds on the hike in; we started at 6:30 AM. The rest of the day was gorgeous weather, probably 30 - 40‘s. There was snow all the way to the peak, varying from 1 to 3 feet. It took us 6 hours without snowshoes to reach the false peak. We made the personal call not to attempt the summit given the time of day and our condition. We had a party of 3, none of which had done a winter 14er. We were the only one ones on trail, although I did spot a couple of tracks that looked like a mountain lion had been around the trailhead recently. The snow ascending to the false peak was deep, 1 - 3 feet, but not a deal breaker, not sure snowshoes would help given the amount of rocks. Round trip was 8.5 hours for novice hikers. YMMV.
|2014-12-05||Route: East Slopes
Info: Right now you can drive to Paris Mill and no further. It means an extra six miles, some of which is road and some of which is snow from 6 to 12 inches. After Kite Lake you need snow shoes until about 12,800. When I got to the saddle I noticed a hanging snowfield under the false summit of Democrat. It‘s about 200-300 vertical feet. I doubt if it would bury you but it could take you over a thousand feet of rock. I elected to climb Cameron.
|2014-10-05||Route: East Slopes
Info: Trail is icy from the Democrat-Cameron saddle to the plateau. Nice snow on summit pitch...unconsolidated, ~18" deep.
|2014-09-28||Route: East Slopes
Info: Started 3am on 9/28. Very windy and minimal visibility from saddle of Dem/Cam. Made it very cold, my poles iced over but no thunder or precip to speak of, just gusty clouds. Once on Cameron had to use compass to orient as there was less than 20 ft of visibility. Very foggy the whole rest of the route with no break until descending around Bross.
|2014-09-27||Route: Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross Combo
Info: Early morning (in the dark) ascent of Democrat followed by the loop to Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross. A couple patches of snow off the trail from recent storms. Trails in good shape. Some frost/mud area in the areas keeping the most shade the longest. No problems with any of the trail. Not too many hikers (about 45) on the trails -- much less crowded than summer peak time. Had some lone summit time on each one. Highest wind was 15mph on Cameron. Bypass below Bross is fine -- the regular descent into Kite Lake is steep and slippery (scree) as advertised. Nighttime low at Kite Lake was 38 -- some frost but nothing frozen. Daytime high high 50s on the peaks. Some clouds building at 12:30 departure and the trail head was less than half full then -- not even down to the switchback.
|2014-09-23||Route: East Slopes
Info: Be ready for really windy conditions. It was eXtremely gusty (estimate 55mph), particularly just past the Democrat-Cameron saddle going up either peak as well as along all the ridges. The hairiest part was ascending the first 50 meters from the saddle toward the Democrat summit, then it becomes more manageable as there‘s a bit of protection as the trail continues to the side of the ridge, instead of on top. A tiny dusting of icy snow at the top of each peak, but nothing to get excited about--definitely no need for traction.
|2014-09-12||Route: East Slopes
Info: Standard route to Democrat was clear of snow this morning. Some snow on the trail between Cameron and Lincoln, but it doesn‘t pose any issues and no traction is needed. Road is a little rough the last quarter mile, but my friend made it up in a Prius quite easily.
|2014-07-19||Route: East Slopes
Info: Environmental conditions experienced on Mt. Demcrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross were excellent and fair. During the ascent/decent, basic exposure to medium/high winds and the normal occurance of cold conditions for a high altitude summit were experienced. However, temperature fluctuations were felt as all three summits were a bit warmer then normal.
|2014-07-13||Route: North Couloir
Info: Democrat has good snow coverage, both the apron and the couloir are covered in snow, and the snow is not runneled and sun cupped like many other routes are this time of year. Because it is inset it will be rock hard in the shade. Consider about a 3 am start time or bivouac the night before and expect a long day. I will be including a trip report to describe the route and some of the difficulties I encountered, mainly on the descent.
Info: It‘s about a 2:30 drive from Denver to Kite Lake. The dirt road to Kite Lake is as previously described. The parking lot is full by 5:45 AM on a Saturday, but there is plenty of parking down the road. Stream crossings are easy; we didn‘t get wet. There is one small patch of well-trampled and mostly flat snow that is 50 ft long near the summit. There is only one small section on decalibro that can be considered a scramble and it‘s very manageable. The descent off of the Bross bypass trail is loose as has been well documented, but no worse than many other 14er descents. Wind varied, but peaked upwards of 30 MPH. Sun is intense. Total decalibro time was around 6:30 in no particular rush. First rain drops fell as we finished around 12:30 PM. The conga line of the masses leaving the trailhead appeared to start at 7:00 AM, so as always, start early to avoid the crowds and decrease the chances of your hike being cut short by the monsoon.
|2014-07-07||Route: East Slopes
Info: My three room mates and I summited Mt. Democrat on July 7, 2014. For one of them, it was her very first 14er attempt (and a success). The road up to kite lake is in great condition as 14er dirt roads go. We were in a Subaru Outback and had no issues. There are some big bumps and a few small washouts, but I think a careful driver could easily manage to get a small 2WD coup up with no problem. We got a bit of a late start, leaving the trailhead at Kite Lake around 9am. The parking lot was mostly full by then, even on a Monday. Temperatures ranged from about 50 degrees to high forties at the top. Strong winds, strong sun. Be sure to bring a shell jacket to protect you from the winds on top and coming down. We took the normal route via the East Slopes. There are one or two spots where you might get your feet wet crossing streams, but one of our party completed the hike in a pair of tennis shoes with no issues. However, I‘d suggest something with some ankle support for the upper-middle portion of the hike. The trail is completely free of snow except for one 100 meter stretch just below the summit and another just as you reach the saddle of Democrat and Cameron. However, you shouldn‘t need yaktraks or anything like that. The snow portion is on a flat part of the route, and a fall would not expose you to any harm other than to your pride. The path through the snow is well-tracked, so don‘t worry about getting your boots wet. The trail gets rough after reaching the saddle. There are a couple switchbacks and then the trail becomes a scramble. It‘s not difficult, but take your time. You could easily sprain an ankle if you don‘t watch your step. There are a lot of lose rocks and plenty of scree. Coming down is more difficult. But other than a few hundred meters of scrambling, the route is entirely a clear trail. The summit is totally free of snow. The only thing up there for us was the blue sky, strong winds, and an approaching afternoon storm. An easy hike and a good 14er for beginners. We would have continued on for the combo of Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross but for two of our party being woefully out of shape and nursing some sore knees. Next time! Be sure to enjoy a nice dip of your worn-out feet in the creek below Kite Lake after you finish.
|2014-06-22||Route: East Slopes
Info: Kite Lake road is clear to TH with a full lot for a Sunday climb. Started on Democrat‘s east face trail, snaking through some small snow fields, and run off. No snowshoes, crampons, or snow climbing gear required. I went up in my Salomon trail runners with no issues all day. Tread carefully, as the snow does cover these streams; don‘t want to post hole into some frigid water... The main switchbacks up the east face of Democrat are mostly snow covered. There is one long traverse across a section, but it is very well trodden. As you continue to climb up the east slope, stay LEFT of the large snow field. This section is a slight scramble, but a path is clear to the false summit. Descending to Cameron, Lincoln, (and Bross) all was very smooth compared to Democrat. No snow on any of these summits. Have a great hike, and take a fun slide down the lower snow fields to make the way down a bit more enjoyable -drew
|2014-06-21||Route: East Slopes
Info: There is still 3 snowfields on the standard route. One is shortly after the parking lot when heading up the first headwall, the second is a short traverse, and the third is near the summit and is much larger. The first two snowfields have a trench through them and are easy to navigate, the large one near the summit can be completely avoided by sticking directly to the ridge. There are also a few smaller snow fields on the rest of the route, but nothing difficult to deal with or cause concern, they are well worn in and melting quick.
|2014-06-12||Route: East Slopes
Info: Still lots of snow up there. I would say 75% of the climb I was going through snow. Still cant drive up to kite lake due to snow drifts half a mile down the road.
|2014-06-04||Route: North Couloir
Info: Approach still snowy, but minimal postholing even on the hike back. Couloir itself in good condition, mostly step kicking. Some old avalanche debris. We descended the easternmost continuous snow slope on the N face with a combination of plunge stepping and glissading. Had to detour to the unstable talus slopes a couple of times when the snow was too firm (crampons off at this point.)
|2014-06-04||Route: East Slopes
Info: I climbed Democrat today. Although I took and used crampons most of the other people did not. For me it is safer, easier and faster to use crampons. Your call. Snowshoes were not necessary because I went early. I was on top at 8:30 and back at the car at 10:30 and the snow was pretty supportable. If you go up there you will see lots of horrendous post holes. Most people are going up too late.
|2014-04-19||Route: South Slope
Info: Climbed Mt. Democrat via the East Slope route (FYI there is a continuous ski on this route), got to the top and opted to ski the South Slope chutes. Visibility was low and the snow was rough off the upper South Face but we made an interesting ski out of it. Skiing is continuous down this route from a few feet off the summit. Beta: S-Gully on Bross is looking quite thin and is not in from the summit. The couloirs on Cameron‘s south face looked like they might allow for a good ski. Sidenote: I figured I should get nominated for 14er Ski Fail of the month. We dropped into the South Face and I had an amazing amount of trouble turning, every single time. I blamed it on the rough snow and poor visibility, but I was still very confused. I kept asking myself, "Why is this so hard?!" Well, once we got down to Lake Emma, I noticed both my ski boots were in walk mode. AGH! What a waste of a lot of fun. Lesson learned: Don‘t ski in walk mode - especially a steeper route like the South Face chutes.
|2014-03-09||Route: North Ridge
Info: My friends and I climbed Democrat‘s North Ridge on Sunday. It is an absolutely fantastic climb. The snowshoe in is manageable on the approach, and we only sank through the willows a few times. From here our primary concern had been the slope to access the North Ridge. However, it had been fairly cold on Saturday night allowing for a stable snowpack. We did have one crack in the snow by a rock outcropping, but we saw no avalanche activity all day. The ridge itself was awesome. There was waist deep snow in places even on the ridge. This made for a tough but fun day. As far as the climbing we took a half rope, a set of nuts, and a few cams. With all of the snow we had to be careful about our route, and because of this we had 2 roped pitches, and 1 rappel. We summited at 3:30 and then used the couloir off of the Democrat/Cameron saddle to descend. Winds were light most of the day, but picked up on the way out. Also, the rock is very solid for most of the climb and allows for some fun axe work. All in all I give this route an A.