| TR: New Beginnings and Old Friends on Democrat
Who: Mtnbikeskierchick, Goldenboy, KansasBoarder, Keith and Trent from Assassin Films
What: Ascent of Mt. Democrat via Kite Lake, descent via Lake Emma Chutes
When: April 11th, 2011
Where: Northern Park County, Mosquito Range, Colorado
It's 7 am and the banter at the Paris Mine Trailhead is energetic and light-hearted, as old friends and seasonal back-country partners reunite. Keith spins around each member of the party, recording their pre-tour rituals and preparations.
Thanks to the internet it is possible for Springtime climbing companions to track each others adventures throughout the Winter, but we find that a hand shake and a smile go a long way for reconnecting.
We shoulder our packs and set off up the refrozen Kite Lake road.
Keith and Trent skin past one of the many mining claims in the Kite Lake Drainage
Keith sports a frosty persona early in the climb
As we gain the openings and meadows of the Kite Lake Drainage the wind intensifies, turning smiles into grimaces and casual conversation into coarse fragmented speak.
Keith, Trent, and Brittany reload against a fierce northerly wind
Frank and Trent push through the gusty conditions to reach the sun near Kite Lake
I wish I could describe our ascent to Kite Lake with warm words and sentimental stories - however there were few. Sure, early morning light brought an incredible glow to fresh wind deposited snow along the peaks. And the swirling spindrifts of Monday's ground blizzard were mesmerizing, even vertigo inducing, a visual spectacle.
Fundamentally, however, it sucked.
Yet, as unpleasant as the ascent to the Summer TH proved to be, a new day dawned as we gained the E side of Democrat. The gust front blew out to Kansas, the mercury rose, and soon we found ourselves shedding all possible layers to mitigate the heat of our efforts.
Brittany sports a warm smile while skinning at 12,000 feet
Frank gains the shelf North of Kite Lake
We were able to skin to 13,000, at which point we began an hour long bootpack that would take us to the Summit. The snow on the E flanks of Democrat was a mixture of wind effected and wind deposited snow - almost ideal from a booting perspective (at least for a soft booter such as myself).
Brittany pounding out the rhythm of the bootpack at 13,500
The gorgeous grueling nature of climbing in the highcountry; blessed are we
Frank, sick with a cold, moving at 14,000 feet
The view of dreams, dreaming of Colorado
Around noon we began our descent from the summit of Colorado's 28th tallest peak. Brittany, Frank and myself had all ridden Democrat before, though in traditional wind hammered 14er conditions. Today would prove to be much different, as the pictures suggest...
From the summit!
Frank laying 'em down above Lake Emma Chutes
Brittany flowing through some nice April conditions
Frank continues his top to bottom descent in prime snow at 12,800 feet
Yup, it was that good!
Frank finishes off the descent on the Kite Lake Headwall
We regrouped for snacks, stoke, and high fives in the middle of a deeply frozen Kite Lake. Watching each member of our group lay their chosen equipment down on the steeps above the lake was a treat. Hoots and hollers and beautiful tracks dominated the basin.
Keith and Trent were able to capture some solid footage for this year's release from Assassin Films, while the rest of us were welcomed back to peak bagging season with an all time descent.
Sharing adventures from Colorado's high country is a passion of mine and a real privilege. If you enjoyed reading this report and looking at these pictures, please visit the "Peaks for Peace" website at www.peaksforpeace.com and consider making a donation for a powerful cause
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