Peak(s):  Mt. Lincoln  -  14,286 feet
Mt. Cameron  -  14,238 feet
Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Date Posted:  07/07/2011
Date Climbed:   07/02/2011
Author:  Ninth_Garage
 Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron, and Mt. Democrat from Montgomery Reservoir  

Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron, and Mt. Democrat from Montgomery Reservoir
Saturday, July 2, 2011

I think I’ll preface this by saying that this is my very first trip report (post actually), so I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I am a total novice at all this mountaineering stuff, so take what’s below with a grain of salt. I’ve realized that what makes this site great is all you awesome people who add your knowledge and experience, so I thought I’d throw in the little, tiny bit I have.

Trip Statistics:
Round Trip Length: 10.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 7,600’
Start Time: 5:30 AM End Time: 1:30 PM
Total Time: 8 hours Stopped Time: 2:30 Moving Time: 5:30
I am by no means at all a speed demon. I am a total geek and take my sweet time taking pictures of flowers, playing with my GPS, and admiring how absolutely gorgeous it is up there. I also probably added quite a bit of distance skirting around snowfields and traversing to make my route less steep. I also have no idea how much of the moving time is me puttering around the summits or taking pictures. I guess those numbers are just my general gauge.

Trailhead: Montgomery Reservoir:
Elevation: 10,960’
The trailhead was very easy to find with the directions. You can easily drive all the way to the concrete wall and the trailhead. I have only a dinky little, 2wd pickup truck and it made it there with no problems at all. The reservoir is really low. That surprised me with the high snowpack this year, but I do not know anything about that reservoir. This is also the TH for the Wheeler Lake trail, which is popular for both hikers and ORVs, so don’t expect to be alone at the bottom. It was completely empty when I left at 5:30 AM, but when I got back at 1:30 PM, it was crazy.
I decided to start my little adventure from Montgomery Reservoir for three reasons. 1) I am a very poor and inexperienced off-road driver and I have no confidence in my car to go on any road past a “2wd, easy dirt road.” 2) I did not want to summit Mt. Bross to respect that closure, so I figured that going from the Montgomery side would add a little bit of a challenge as compared to the Kite Lake side. The three peaks are arranged neatly along that ridge, so the Reservoir was a (more or less) logical start for an out and back adventure. 3) I figured that the Kite Lake TH would be a madhouse and I would just as rather avoid that. I’m now not sure whether the Montgomery Reservoir TH is better on that count.

Mt. Lincoln (14,286’):
Route: The beginning talus field isn’t too bad low down. It is slow and you have to be careful, but nothing over the top. By the time you get up to near the waterfall, the rocks are slick, and sometimes the best route seemed to me to weave in and out among the little side trickles. Once you are past the waterfall, there are a couple big snow patches before the terminal moraine of the Amphitheatre that you can either cross or go all the way around, skirting the edges along the willows. This was still pretty hard ice by the time I got there, maybe around 6 AM. The Amphitheatre itself is more or less a pick your own path and is completely free of any snow, except for near the stream at the top. For most of the bottom of the Amphitheatre, the going is not too arduous. The upper part of the Amphitheatre is pretty loose, but it is not very long. Once out of the Amphitheatre, there are many old roads that you can criss-cross to make the climb up the southeast ridge easier. I avoided all the snow patches I could. The summit was empty when I got there a little before 8 AM, but people were slowly starting to trickle up. On the Montgomery Reservior side, I only saw one other couple in the Amphitheatre on my way down, so I reveled in how peaceful, quiet, and serene this route was. For me, that was a very welcome change to the normal hubbub on the popular peaks. I love the solitude, but I am not a good or experienced enough climber to take on the more challenging and less populous peaks. There was a neat little rock slide on the south side of the Amphitheatre on my way back down, so be careful close to the sides.

Mt. Lincoln looking west-ish

Mt. Lincoln looking northeast-ish

Mt. Lincoln looking south-ish

Mt. Cameron (14,238’):
Route: Not much to say here. Between Lincoln and Cameron, the trail is completely clear and easy to follow. Between Cameron and the saddle to Democrat, I think there was only one little snowfield that was easily avoided. The trail from the summit of Lincoln to the summit of Democrat is well defined, and there are only a few places where you could possibly get off. But then, there’d be someone along in a minute or two for you to readjust your path. I quite enjoyed my time at the top of Cameron because the crowds were congregating on Democrat and Lincoln. Perfect place to refuel the tanks and take in the vistas.

Mt. Cameron looking east-ish

Mt. Cameron looking southwest-ish

Mt. Cameron looking northwest-ish

Mt. Democrat (14,148’):
Route: Democrat was by far the busiest peak. By the time I reached the summit, it was 9:30 AM and there were probably a dozen people at the top, plus more streaming in every minute. You could look down the trail and see a line of ants slowly moving up toward you. There were a few snow patches between the saddle and the summit. I can’t say anything about between Kite Lake and the saddle, though. With the large amount of traffic, there were good steps in all the snowfields, so they were not a problem at all. The trail is easy to follow and there are a thousand other people to help you should you need anything.
Round of Applause: A huge shout out to all the kids that I saw on the trail and at the summit. Way to go, you guys rock! There was at least a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old at the top, having conquered their first fourteeners!

Mt. Democrat looking west-ish

Mt. Democrat looking northeast-ish

Mt. Democrat looking south-ish

Other Miscellaneous Stuff:
Wildflowers: Alpine Springbeauty (Claytonia megarhiza), White Marsh Marigold (Caltha leptosepala), Colorado Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea), Silky Phacelia (Phacelia sericea), Ross’ Avens (Geum rossii), Alpine Forget-Me-Nots (Eritrichium nanum), Graylocks Four-Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris grandiflora), Sticky Polemonium (Polemonium viscosum), Parry’s Clover (Trifolium parryi), Ledge Stonecrop (Rhodiola integrifolia), Bluebells (Mertensia spp.), Alpine Pennycress (Noccaea montana), Cushion Phlox (Phlox pulvinata), lots more that I am forgetting, and a few that I have not gotten around to trying to identify.
Boots: I was glad I had on waterproof boots that had good ankle support for the wetness of the waterfall near the bottom of Lincoln and the talus fields in the Amphitheatre. I often hike with just tennis shoes, but was glad I did not for this trip.
Trekking poles: I still don’t know what I would do if I were to do this route again. I did not take my poles with me because I knew how little I would probably be able to use them, especially on the steeper parts where they are more helpful. They could have been helpful once out of the Amphitheatre and for crossing snowfields. Your call.

All the best and happy trails.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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