| Democrat - North Couloir then Cameron, Lincoln
Democrat North Couloir, Cameron, Lincoln Roundtrip
30 Jun 2007
Road to Montgomery Reservoir Trailhead: Easy dirt to West side of Reservoir then 4wd Jeep Trail beyond that. We stopped at Magnolia Mill due to the road getting too rough.
Trailhead: We started this circle hike from the Magnolia Mill on the west end of the Montgomery Reservoir. We camped at the Mill on the rocks near the South Platte River.
Starting Elevation: 10,920 feet
Start Time: 0330 (Got lost in willows and off course by 30-45 minutes)
Began Couloir at 0630
Reach Democrat Summit at 1000
Reached Cameron Summit at 1130
Reached Lincoln Summit at 1200
Arrived at car at 1530
Total Time: 12:00
I'm considering this an Epic hike. Myself (Nutrition_Guy), Cloudust and Crazydiamond80 set out to make a loop of Democrat, Cameron, and Lincoln by starting at the west end of the Montgomery Reservoir.
Our goal was to hike the North Couloir of Democrat, and based on the fact that there were no other noticeable tracks up the couloir, it is a less common route of travel for this peak. In fact, we didn't see another person until the summit of Democrat, nearly 6 ½ hours after starting.
We arrived at the west end of the reservoir and continued up the jeep road as far as we could. We found a nice parking spot and camping site at the Magnolia Mill (which is labeled on the USGS quad and is the first obvious old Mill on the jeep road about ½ km up the road). We set up camp near the bank of the South Platte. The rushing water, incredibly spooky old mill, and gorgeous sunset made for a fantastic evening.
We woke the next morning at "O too early" at 0300 and we were walking by 0330. With headlamps on we followed the jeep trail into the Platte Gulch (the road basically follows the South Platte). The trick was to go left (as Roach describes on an old jeep trail). Trust me, there is no "discernable" jeep trail. Well, we missed it, hiked too far, and ended up having to back track through some viscous willows and had to jump a swollen South Platte to correct our direction.
If you want to use this Trip report to get this route correct, I recommend you PM me so I can give you some more details about how we might have better faired with this part of the route.
Needless to say, it wasted nearly 45 minutes. As we neared Democrat, you can make out several possible routes to the summit. As far as I understand it, the North Couloir as the obvious one farthest to the right (and noted by my route line), however, there are two mixed rock/snow couloirs, and another steep couloir further Left (in my photo below) that would be fun routes as well.
Although we could make out faint ski trails in the basin, there were no steps in the snow and no other trail up this route. We wondered if we might have been the first this year—anyway, we kick stepped the entire route up to the summit of Democrat, so if you are into a snow climb in the next week or 2, this might be a nice option. The slope never got much more than 40 degrees, but I'll be honest, this felt MUCH harder than the Dead Dog Couloir on Torrey's (which we did a few weeks prior).
Near the top of the couloir there was some VERY CRAPPY rock. We needed to be careful not too dump rock down into the valley, but also not to set off a small slide that could have been …how shall we say "bad".
Near the very top there were a couple tricky moves. This is were cloudust lost her Camera. If you decide to go up and retrieve the camera..well, how should I say? Who knows what kinda pictures were on that camera…all I can say was that she was quite upset that it fell!
While on the tricky rock section, we had an amazing view of the headwall of Democrat's North Face.
I think this is a much more secluded and challenging route than the common Kite Lake approach and offers some nice solitude. At least until you summit.
And summit we did. After refueling from that exhausting climb up to Democrat, we descended down into the valley between Democrat and Cameron. After some brief discussion, we elected to continue on as planned (for a moment in our exhaustion, we contemplated calling a taxi or hitching a ride on that dragon from the never-ending-story). We made quick work of Cameron (and I would like to say, it looks tiring and far from Democrat but it's not as bad as it looks). From the summit of Cameron, we could see Lincoln off in the distance. It's not a bad hike between Cameron and Lincoln as there isn't much elevation loss—but it sure is tiring when you've been up since 0330 in the morning!
Once on the summit of Lincoln, we realized we had made it—and all that was left, after our obligatory summit photo was the brief stroll down (yeah right!)
Our plan was to head down into the amphitheater which is clearly shown in the USGS quad and on the map of our route. You will want to stay RIGHT of the obvious Mill and standing shack. We headed down into the bowl and planned on aiming Left into the following drainage and out to the reservoir (all of this is visible from your vantage point). However, we were concerned that it looked "Cliffy" at the opening to the reservoir and given that we didn't know how steep it was, the USGS clearly showed steep contour lines and we were too darn tired to hike back out of that drainage, we elected to follow Putnam Gulch out instead. We were glad we did as we were able to view back at the outlet from the Lincoln Amphitheater and it looked steep, and icy.
The meadow into the drainage was beautiful!
And finally, as we angeled left towards the reservoir, we aimed for the mouth of the West End as close to the car as possible. We had to cross the river, but it felt OH SO GOOD!
All in all an "epicly" beautiful hike.
I would like to add that Cloudust and Crazydiamond80 are some of the coolest hiking partners around. Although I knew Cloudust for some years, Crazydiamond80 and I met here on 14ers.com how cool!!
Hope you liked it! Here is the excerpt from the USGS Quad with our track.
Hope to see you on the trails,
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):