Peak(s):  Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Mt. Lincoln  -  14,286 feet
Mt. Cameron - 14,238 feet
"West Bross" at Sanctioned Trail - 14,000 feet
Post Date:  03/07/2010
Modified:  05/15/2010
Date Climbed:   02/27/2010
Posted By:  Dancesatmoonrise

 Decalibron - Winter - Kite Lake Approach   

Decalibron in Winter: Kite Lake Approach

Peaks: "Decalibron"
Route: Standard Kite Lake Approach from Winter Closure at Paris Mill
Date: 2-27-10
Length: 12 miles RT
Vertical: 4700 feet
Total time: 11 hours
Ascent Party:
Kevin Baker, Dwight Sunwall, Sarah T, Dominic, John, Sen, Jim & Jim

The ascent crew at the winter TH.

It's no secret that this winter's snowpack has posed some difficult obstacles. On Saturday, December 18, under a high avalanche rating, Jeff, Brady, and I decide that the scrubbed-off east ridges to Calibron are the safest bet: we end up enjoying a great day just before winter solstice. Kevin Baker reminds us that it doesn't count for winter…OK, no matter, I still need Democrat. I'll just put it on the list for later. Meanwhile, more interesting things await.

A solo daytrip up Columbia in early January is just what the doctor orders to clear out some karmic congestion. The winter is off to a great start. 12 14ers for 12 weeks in winter. What's next? How about soloing Huron Peak? Now, there's a solid half-day from the winter TH. But the mountain gods demur, apparently figuring I could use some new friends. Based on the partners they send, I decide I'm doing at least something right in the eyes of the almighty. A week goes by, the weather and snowpack worsen, but Huron's in the bag, 5 down, 7 to go, so a weekend off is OK, right?

Another week goes by. Now I'm getting antsy. Two weeks, no peaks. Ken offers to lend a shovel so I can go dig a trench to stay in shape. Thanks, Ken. Don't want to interfere with the weight-reduction program. Another week goes by... Wait, how about that scoured ridge on Bross? That should be "safe." But a well-meaning internet poster reminds that doing anything other than the negotiated route threatens public closure of the entire group. I realize he's absolutely right. Back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, Sarah's saving Decalibron for a "rainy day." With the avy danger once again at high, I ask her if the Kite Lake approach is safe. It's a dumb question. Because unless a slope is sliding, there is no snow-covered slope that is either 100% safe, or 0% safe. It is always somewhere in between. Or like a long-time backcountry skier and climber I knew used to say: "If it didn't slide, were you right? Or were you lucky?" I like to think of avalanches like firearms: "The slope is always loaded." But, while I am not proud to be a live chicken, given her crew's excellent track record for banging out tough winter routes week after week, I figure they're doing something right.

Funny how the mountain gods decide to drive home Kevin's point about winter by putting us together on this route after all. It was my pleasure and privilege to witness, firsthand, the Baker/Meiser/Sunwall crew in action. And to finally get my winter schedule back on track.

Kevin led the tough parts; Dominic provided some great didactics; Sarah and I mused over some fifth class plans for the summer; and Dwight provided comic relief. Too bad the photos of Dwight's antics on that huge unstable cornice didn't come out. Apparently the camera was more focused on the cornice. So were we. Seriously, Dwight had us all cracking up, providing some much needed relief on a pretty long, tedious winter route.

It was good to see Jim (Yikes) again; he was on the Princeton group trip on Jan 30. It was also good to finally climb with Sen – who has been absent from climbing for so long this season I wondered if he'd retired. And lastly, John, who is just starting out, blew us all away by hanging in there for a very long, tough day. His ability is clearly beginning to catch up to his enthusiastic attitude. He is also a solid team player. Keep up the good work, John!

Our first goal - Mt. Democrat



Kite Lake in winter.

We met Yikes at the lake. I think we were sitting on top of the lake.


Our first obstacle is to avoid avalanche danger getting to Mt. Democrat.

We choose a slight variation of the standard route, swinging to the far right in the photo, near the bottom,
then taking a line up and left through the small section of exposed rock,
gaining the rocky bench near the center of the photo.


Don't miss the correct descent on the east side of the Decalibron loop. A lot of terrain below the Cam-Bross saddle cliffs out.




Just below the only sketchy area. Above here we went one-at-a-time.




Gaining the summit ridge.

Next Tuesday...




Kevin leading the summit ridge.






Cameron ascent.


To Lincoln...

Summit party on Lincoln.

Mrs. Meiser reminds us to please follow the rules if we wish to keep this route open.

Bross may eventually open back up if we stick to the hard-won, well-marked trail.
The negotiated trail skirts just yards below the Bross summit. 123 yards to be exact.
The hikers depicted in the photo are on the correct descent route for the Kite Lake loop.

The winter TH, at the Paris Mill junction, is about three miles below Kite Lake.

Kevin and Dwight, it was great to finally meet you guys. Sarah and Dominic, another enjoyable climb with you!
And John...we missed you on Culebra yesterday. Sarah and I were talking about you.
Neither of us couldn't believe how you hung in there on this trip; we voted you tough guy of the season! : )

Thanks all for a great trip.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

snow     03/08/2010 13:25
Thanks for all the photos. Did anyone get a look down the NE side of Lincoln, and does anyone have a hunch (since obviously no one went and looked ) about the east side of Bross? Wondering about continuous lines..


...     01/05/2011 17:27
Hey Jim, great report!

Kevin Baker

Nice     03/08/2010 14:47
Nice report, Jim! It sure was a great day to squeeze in the whole group and meet some new folks. Quite often it‘s an ordeal just getting Democrat in winter!


Nicely done.     03/08/2010 15:11
Great job in gaining these summits. I would have probably tried to tag along but I was busy retrieving some missing gear. Well, here‘s to spring...

Chicago Transplant

Yesterday     03/08/2010 15:13
Hey Jim - I just did this route yesterday, its amazing how such an easy summer group felt so much harder in winter. By Lincoln‘s summit I was ready for a nap

Bean - Lincoln had a summit ski descent yesterday, looked a little bony in places, but probably continuous, looked good off the summit, then they worked their way to the road.


Very enjoyable day     03/08/2010 16:11
I really had a great day out with everyone!

Yikes, Sen & John - a pleasure meeting you all.

John - you‘re one tough guy. Here‘s my favorite photo from the trip:

The rest of my pictures are here:

Kevin Baker

pics     03/08/2010 16:15
I forgot, here are my pics from the day:


title     03/08/2010 17:09
It was good to meet many new fit mountaineers, it was a fine day up there.


Well done!     03/08/2010 19:21
Nice weather, great pics, good write-up! This weekend did not feel like the beginning of March whatsoever! Thanks for posting

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