I hadn't yet been to the top of Democrat, so I decided that I'd like to tackle it by a more "interesting" route. Since I'm working on the Centennial 13ers and the 14ers at the same time, I decided to hit the Centennial Mt. Buckskin and then traverse the south ridge that connects Democrat and Buckskin.
I was joined by my good buddy Al to tackle the first leg of the hike, and then soloed the ridge up to Democrat. Here is Al atop Buckskin with the summit register:
The ridge looks waaaaay more gnarly than it really is.
Looking gnarly from the trail that leads from Kite Lake:
I'd rate it at class 3, or 4-5 if you stay ridge proper the whole route. If one ascends the traverse via the ridge proper, you'll definitely find some short class 4-5 pitches to ascend and descend. However, you can jump off to the west side of the ridge at any time to avoid any class 4-5 parts of the route. If you do jump off the ridge proper, be careful of the very loose boulders you may dislodge, as the whole route rarely sees any foot traffic from us bipedal organisms.
A look at the traverse on the descent from Buckskin:
I started and ended at the Kite lake trail head by making one continuous loop by ascending Buckskin first, then traversing over to Democrat. Climbing up Buckskin is as simple as 1) follow the trail south from Kite Lake behind the campground shitter, then 2) walk up the grassy slope to gain the ridge that is Mt. Buckskin. Once I gained Buckskin, I headed NW along the ridge to NW Buckskin, then down to the Buckskin-Democrat saddle. One should stay as close to the edge of the ridge on the way down to the saddle, as it's more easy going on the flat boulders than heading straight down to the low point of the saddle. Once on the saddle, head over to the bunny ears that mark the start of the traverse (ascend up the knob and in between he bunny ears at the high point of the photo):
From here on out you'll descend and reascend a bunch of little gendarmes that can be class 4-5 if you choose to climb straight up and down them.
Once you get past the up & downs, you'll hit the remainder of the the climb to Democrat:
Looking back & down on the traverse from various points:
From the bottom of the saddle up to Buckskin
on the back of the "bunny ears"
about midway of traverse
At the end of the traverse looking back (it doesn't look so bad, except for the weather!)
Me on the top of the last hump before heading up to Democrats summit:
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.