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 Peak(s):  Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
 Post Date:  05/20/2009
 Date Climbed:   05/16/2009
 Posted By:  pioletski

 Democrat, North Couloir variation   

One might argue that this TR should be combined with my Missouri Mt. TR from 5/15. After all, it was the same group on consecutive days. However, we were able to take a much-welcome shower in Buena Vista in between, and in my book that makes it a separate trip. (This might be the most important beta in this TR: there is a laundromat with a coin-op shower in BV, half a block north of the main intersection in town.)

So after leaving Mizzou, cleaning up, visiting the gear shop, going out for beer and pizza... Mike, Chuck and I made camp on Hoosier Pass under a lowering sky. A little freezing rain fell during the night, and visibility was somewhat limited in the morning. We left the Montgomery Reservoir parking area in a fog.

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In the Misty Mountains

There is about a 4.5 mile gentle hike to the base of the north face of Democrat. As we hiked, the clouds parted slightly to allow us a glimpse of the summit...

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It's there, really...

... and then, once skins were on, a partial view...

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Democrat shows its face to Chuck

... and eventually the clouds broke, revealing the spectacular face.

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Democrat in all its glory

Reaching the base of the couloir, we put the skis and boards on packs and started climbing.

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Mike and Pioletski ready to go

The spectacular narrow section is right at the bottom.

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Climbing the choke

The footing was generally good; we didn't use crampons, though we might have liked to in one or two spots of hard snow. The main couloir ("Nordwand") branches halfway up; we chose to ascend the (climber's) left branch to minimize the inevitable scrambling over talus at the top (see pic with route marked at the bottom of this TR). I highly recommend this route. It tops out on the ridge just east of the summit.

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Note that the couloir branches halfway up

Upon reaching the top, we had to put Chuck to work filling in a bare spot to ensure a true summit descent:

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Chucky gets busy

Meanwhile I gaped at the view. It's a little hard to capture, but this is the view toward the west. The Elks are visible (really) between Massive and Holy Cross; although they barely show up in the picture, we could see Pyramid, the Bells, Snowmass, Capitol and Sopris.

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View to West

Bernie was one happy guy...

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One proud dog

Having prepared the way Chuck was eager to ride.

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Ready to go

Chuck's work was much appreciated:

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Crossing Chuck's bridge

In order to ski from the summit, we followed a line similar to benners and Brian on 5/2, but had to swing even further east before dropping in. We then traversed back west...

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Traversing into the couloir

... and rejoined our ascent route. This arm of the couloir is narrower than the main one, and perhaps a hair steeper.

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Wide open (Chuck)


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Letting 'em rattle (Pioletski)

The choke at the bottom is well worth the price of admission:

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Pioletski

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Mike

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Chuck

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Bernie, literally high-tailing it

The trek back to the car was surprisingly quick given the soft, sticky snow; we then repaired to the Breck Brewery to relax and toast our adventure. Mike and Chuck: thanks gents, it's a pleasure knowing you and we'll have to do more of this soon.

Here is our route on the face (ascent blue, descent red):

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And Chuck provided this Google Earth image of the terrain:

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
scotthsu


hey, i know of these guys     2009-05-21 08:14:30
from a forum on northern NM backcountry skiing!


chucky

nm forum     2009-05-21 08:32:45
Hey scott, yes our little ol forum in NM, not bad for a desert state


Easy Rider


had a hard time believing     2009-05-21 18:24:42
that route would be out already. Thanks.



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