Peak(s):  Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Post Date:  02/13/2012
Date Climbed:   02/09/2012
Posted By:  Yikes

 Whiteout on Democrat; Lincoln 0 for 2  

Date: Thursday Feb 9, 2012
Time: 7:30am – 3:30pm
Stats: ~9 miles, 3100 vertical
Crew: SilverLynx, SurfNTurf, Yikes

Team 3J – Jennie, Jeff and Jim attempt a winter ascent of Decalibron.
Another early morning. Up at 3:50am to make the 45 min cross-town drive to the Morrison Park N Ride for the scheduled 5am meetup. I volunteered to drive the Trooper in case we needed some clearance up a snowy road. MapQuest showed the I-70 drive to Alma to be 8 minutes longer than 285. Figuring there would be more deer to dodge on 285, we jumped on I-70 and headed west. In hindsight it might have been wise to check the road conditions first; I-70 ended up being snow packed and the drive took an extra 30min.

Our second choice of the morning was the route. Should we take the familiar Kite Lake route or break trail on the unknown Quartzville route. The advantage of the latter is that we would ascend Lincoln first. I tagged Democrat and Bross in a prior winter trip, but elected to skip Lincoln to conserve my energy for the descent. Also, a recent trip report indicated that the road to Kite Lake might be passable above the normal winter closure. So we choose Kite Lake due to familiarity and the hope for a higher winter closure. Turns out the road was closed at the normal winter closure and we had to deal with the 5 mile round trip slog up the road.

Getting ready at the winter closure.

The morning started out snowy and breezy. The weather report promised better conditions later in the day. Turns out they were wrong and we would have to claim Democrat in full on winter conditions.

The hike up the road went fairly smoothly, alternating patches of dry roadbed and snow drifts. It was about fifty-fifty on whether snowshoes helped or hurt. The outhouse at the lake was conveniently open, if you don’t mind sharing it with a 2 foot snow drift.

A few weeks too late.

Jeff thinking about some other mtn.

We quickly hiked up the hill above the lake and approached the only questionable slope. The snow showed no signs of instability, so we practiced safe travel and quickly traversed one by one, and heading into the upper basin.

Up the hill

Crossing the slope

The summer trail isn’t very easy to follow in winter, so we hopped a few thousand rocks and eventually made it up to the home stretch. The wind picked up and was making white-out conditions; it was hard to tell where the ground ended and the sky began. Fortunately the route is fairly straightforward and we continued to the summit without much visual guidance.


The summit was very cold and very windy. It wasn’t a good day to hang out and eat lunch. It was the kind of day where you touch the summit rock and turn tail. No pictures were taken on the summit. We quickly decided that Lincoln and Bross would have to wait for another day. We were moving too slow, we were too cold and conditions would have likely left us on the mountain in the dark.

It was disheartening leaving the 13,400 foot saddle, knowing the effort it will take to get back to Lincoln. The descent down the talus was cautiously slow and fortunately uneventful.


Everyone was happy to get off the rocks and onto the snow and dirt above Kite Lake. The snow and wind continued to the car, at which point we finally saw some blue sky.

Scenic place for a break

285 was dry and the drive back to Denver went quickly. Unfortunately the same could not be said about the drive across town during rush hour. 90 minutes. Ugg, welcome back to civilization.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Nice job to Team 3J
02/14/2012 02:43
I highly recommend the Quartzville TH. No 5 mile road slog almost guaranteed.

Good luck finding it though, kind of a pain


Photo 3
02/14/2012 05:33
Looks to me like he noticed an Elk scouting party in the distance. Great work all.


02/14/2012 15:11
With all the summits racking up in ”pseudo-Winter,” Democrat was a good reminder that it's actually mid-February. Nice report Jim!


get 'er done?
02/14/2012 15:17
any of you want to finish what you started, this sunday?

nice report

Summit Lounger

Missed out
02/14/2012 15:28
Looked like a fun trip. Real weather. Sorry I missed out on this one. Next time.


02/14/2012 15:40
Looks like the weather made for some great photos and an interesting trip. Congrats to Team J3! : )


Good stuff
02/14/2012 16:04
Image #6 portrays things pretty well I think. Congrats to you three, looks like you definitely earned this one!


Not Sure
04/02/2015 19:45
if I should offer congratulations or condolences
It sucks when weather plays tricks like that. Image 9 says it all.


02/14/2012 20:26
I'll preface this by saying I have never been to Quartzville but a member of this forum had their vehicle tinkered with by a disgruntled landowner in that vicinity a few years back. Moose Creek is a good way to hit the remaining peaks up there and not stress about your vehicle while you are hiking. Even if you already have visited Bross, there is a mining road at 13,700 on climber's right that bypasses the summit.

Looks like a pretty wicked day up there. Definitely an earned summit.


Next Week
02/17/2012 20:51
I am traveling in from Michigan next week, and weather permitting would like to try Democrat, etc. Th or Fri the 23 or 24th. Would like to have company if anyone out there is interested.


Lincoln/ Quartzville Trail/Kite Lake Conditions
02/24/2012 05:00
I'm planning to come up and attack the decalibron from a base camp with a buddy of mine in mid march. What is the camping situation like on Lincoln? Any one have a Quartzville gps trail they could share? Base camp instead of the 3 mile hike back to the car will be nice, but kite lake looks to be pretty barren and above treeline, brrr. What kind of snow Depth was around kite lake?

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