| Democrat Packing Some Punch on the North Ridge.
December 26, 2013
~12.4 Miles, ~5,400 Gain
TH: Montgomery Reservoir 2WD (~1.5 hours from Denver)
Generally the Decab isn't a worthy report, even by winter standards but I haven't seen a report on a winter ascent of Democrat's north ridge and I figured I would give some insight on this fine route. It would be a worthy route even in the summer.
I'm not usually a fan of winter 14ers but I figured I would help Ryan get some altitude in before his Ecuador trip. We met at The Fort off of 285 at 5 AM and started our drive towards Fairplay. Ryan's day started off poorly when he was pulled over and given a speeding ticket in Turkey Creek Canyon. I'll keep my feelings toward the Morrison cops to myself.
We arrived at the Montgomery Reservoir trailhead and started hiking up the snowed over 4WD road up Platte Gulch. The trail was packed by previous travel for the first ½ mile. In an effort to conserve energy, we donned our snowshoes and proceeded up the basin. Trail breaking wasn't horrendous but was time consuming, especially through the powdery sections in the willows.
Some minor wallowing.
Avalanche danger on the approach was minimal and ~3.5 miles up the gulch, we aimed for the gentle northeast rib descending from the Democrat-Traver saddle. Once on the rib, we were able to take off our snowshoes and proceed to the top of the rib just above the Democrat-Traver saddle.
Heading towards Democrat. (Photo by Ryan)
Happy to be on a 14er.... (Photo by Ryan)
The rib and a profile view of the north ridge. (Photo by Ryan)
Looking down Platte Gulch.
Long gentle rib to the saddle.
From the top of the rib, we could see all of the difficulties of Democrat's north ridge. Since we didn't know what to expect, we put on our crampons and harnesses. We never used the harnesses or the rope.
Democrat's north ridge from the top of the rib.
North ridge. (Photo by Ryan)
The scrambling started as we descended from the top of the rib into a notch. Keeping to the west side of the ridge kept the scrambling manageable into the notch. Fun scrambling out of the notch on the ridge crest kept us out of danger of any loaded slopes on the sides of the ridge. Staying on the crest, the scrambling was 4th to low 5th class. In the summer, scrambling could be easily kept at class 3 by bypassing towers to the west.
Descending into the notch. (Photo by Ryan)
An obstacle. (Photo by Ryan)
Ryan descending into the notch.
Climbing out of the notch.
More scrambling action.
Looking down the ridge.
Once out of the notch, the scrambling excitement subsided to some occasional class 3 moves. We made upward progress and arrived on the summit of Democrat at 12:15 PM. The approach took us longer than we had anticipated.
Higher on the ridge.
Out of the notch. (Photo by Ryan)
Class 3 higher on the ridge. (Photo by Ryan)
Upper portion of the ridge. (Photo by Ryan)
Looking down the north ridge. (Photo by Ryan)
I will not go into details about the rest of the Decab as there are about a million documented reports. Why I decided to climb Bross again, still leaves me scratchin'. It wasn't even worth repeating for the stupid “snowflake.”
From the summit of Lincoln, we descended the gentle east slopes towards Lincoln Amphitheater. We should have stayed further south and descended Putnam Gulch but we got suckered into a more direct route back to the car. Some minor cliff bands were encountered near the base of the Lincoln Amphitheater. We arrived back at the car around 5:00 PM. I'll admit, it was fun to repeat these peaks since it had been 14 years since I had climbed them. Maybe there is something to these winter 14ers?
Descending the east slopes off of Lincoln. (Photo by Ryan)
Lincoln Amphitheater and Silverheels. (Photo by Ryan)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):