Who: Mark and Todd Rottmann
Time: Trailhead to Democrat - 2:10, Democrat to Cameron - 1:35, Cameron to Lincoln - 0:15, to Bross? and back to Trailhead - 2:35 Total time - 7:35.
Distance: 7.2 miles
Todd and I flew into Denver early on Friday, Sept. 3 for the long Labor Day weekend. 2nd trip to CO for us this year. This time we were eyeing the possibility of climbing 4 14ers in one day. We were based out of Breckenridge. (Same as last Labor Day Weekend). Were able to rent a nice condo close to Main St.
Since we were in early, we wanted to take in some outdoor activity to help acclimate for our climb the next day. We decided to check out the Alpine Slide. Looked like a lot of fun. Road the gondola up to the Fun Park above Breckenridge. Then took the chair lift to the start of the Slide. Todd and I wanted to race down. We got off to a fast start. A little too fast. I almost lost it in one of the turns and ended up scraping my left shoulder and left knee against the wall before saving it. If you ain't rubbin - You ain't racin! The rest of the race wasn't so exciting as slower people in front of us were stopping to enjoy the view instead of sliding. Expand picture to see damage to my shirt. Actually tore up my knee as well.
If you ain't Rubbin - You ain't Racin!
The rest of the day wasn't too eventful. The two other guys that were going to hike/climb with us drove in from Grand Junction.
We hit the road early the next morning at around 5 am. Easy drive down to Alma. Had a little bit of a problem finding the road to Kite Lake. Sign is small and hard to see in the dark. Once on the trailhead road it was fairly rough but not a big deal for our rental truck. Made it to the Kite Lake trailhead around 6:15. Already quite a few cars there. Popular spot of the holiday weekend.
We hit the trail to Mt. Democrat around 6:40. Cool location. Horseshoe shaped area. Surrounded by mountains on 3 sides. Trail started out going past Kite Lake and weaved its way up to the saddle between Democrat and Cameron. Little more talus than I expected. Gained elevation fairly quickly. Passed by some old mine ruins.
The wind really started blowing once we got close to the saddle. The trail up to Democrat got an extra degree of difficultly due to the high winds. We guessed that they were gusting up to 40 mph? I stuggled my way up the mountain. Many people passed us. Our Grand Junction friends lapped us. I guess it was just one of those days where you just don't have the energy you expect to have. Frustrating.
Trail was rougher than I expected as well. We toughed it out and eventually made it to the summit. First one for the day. Could not locate the seal. Great views all around. Other than the wind, the skies were clear.
Todd on way up Democrat
View down to Kite Lake Valley
Here is the view over to Cameron.
We headed down Democrat to the saddle. Again the winds made it difficult. Numerous times when taking a step, the wind would push my leg off to the right. Had to be cautious as not to take a misstep on the talus and loose rocks. Once in the saddle, the wind made walking in a straight line next to impossible. Sometimes you just had to brace yourself for a little bit till the wind subsided some. Once through the saddle we huddled behind the windbreaker of Cameron's ridge for a little bit. Many others were doing the same. We caught our breathe and trudged on up Cameron's ridge. Made the underwelming summit before we knew it.
Summit of Cameron
Views of mountains to the East
Next we headed for Lincoln. Descended down into the saddle. Fairly flat with lots of scree. Looked like walking on the moon. See the picture below.
Enjoyed the view of Lincoln's summit. It has the most "personality" of the group. Before we knew it we were on the summit. Amazing to see mine ruins on the side of the mountain. Makes you wonder how they did it?
The tri-fecta - Mt. Lincoln summit
One of the 2 seals on Mt. Lincoln
View over to Bross
Grays and Torreys (I think)
Lots of people hanging out on the summit. Weather was still hanging in there. More clouds building, but no sign of rain so far. We still didn't take any chances and went on our way. Weren't sure if we were going to try and summit Bross or not, but we headed over in that direction and followed Bill's waypoint directions in my GPS. Did get some excellent views of Lincoln, Cameron and Democrat along the way.
On our way over towards the 4th summit area, we did notice some 4X4s racing to the top of the mountain. So much for that option or was it?
We kept walking on the trail that runs below the summit. We would need to return to Kite Lake anyway. Maybe the opportunity to summit would arise? As we approached the point of no return for a summit attempt, we noticed more 4X4's driving towards the top again. We had just a short jaunt to the top. We raced up and were on the 4th summit for about 1 minute. Then down we went.
4th Summit of the Day - Sweet!
The trek down to Kite Lake was as bad as others have claimed. Scree fest. I fell once and did a 180 another time and almost went over the edge. (not a cliff or anything, but ...) Thanks to Todd for giving me a helping hand.
It seemed like the never ending trail.
Todd heading down the scree trail
Are we there yet!
Eventually we closed in on the end of our trek down to the trailhead. Thanks to the CFI for the work they did on the lower portion of the trail. Much appreciated. Also passed by this small but beautiful waterfall.
Made it safely back to the trailhead. Our friends from Junction were there waiting for us. They were a wee bit faster than us (like 1 1/2 hours faster). Doh! Oh well we accomplished our goal. Summitted four 14ers in one day. Though I didn't feel great about my performance on the trail, I did hang in there. The wind definately was interesting, but overall the weather was beautiful. Can't complain. Another awesome day in the mountains.
Todd, Allan, Frank and Mark - Mission Accomplished
X out 4 more - 9 for Todd and 7 for me.
Victory Beer - Avery IPA
We headed back to Breckenridge and enjoyed pizza and beer at Eric's Downstairs. Good times!
The next day Todd and I decided to take it easy. Descent from the final summit wore us out. We did check out the cool Country Boy Mine. Really enjoyed it. Then the next day it was back to our homes and families. Another outstanding trip to Colorado. It will have to hold us till next year. Deciding which mountain or mountains to hike/climb next will have to keep us occupied until then.