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Peak(s):  Mt. Democrat  -  14,154 feet
Mt. Cameron  -  14,248 feet
Mt. Lincoln  -  14,293 feet
Mt. Bross  -  14,178 feet
Date Posted:  07/30/2020
Date Climbed:   07/28/2020
Author:  TimHoward
 Democrat to Bross - 60 MPH Winds gusts!   

Woke up at 3;00 am in Breckenridge. Left about 3:40 and was at the Kite Lake Trailhead by 4:15. Road up to the trailhead was in excellent shape. We were in a 2WD suburban and it was an easy trip up. Saw plenty of other sedans and even a Tesla up there. I wouldn't recommend big RV's but there was some smaller ones too.

My son Nick found the pay station just as you enter the campground on the LT side and slipped in our $5 bill and put the permit slip on our dashboard. Decent restroom available there too. Hit the trail at 4:30. We were about 5th in line up the mountain but a steady stream of cars started coming in about 5 am.

We followed a few others out to the trail and there is a decision point to go up Democrat or Boss first. Everyone was headed up to Democrat but later we did pass a few who came up Bross. In my opinion either would be acceptable but Democrat is easier because of better footing on the way up compared to the Boss accent. We heard that walking sticks were a must but we accidentally left ours back at the condo so were anxious about the Boss decent. We saw multiple other hikers without poles so assumed it was not critical.

We are flat landers from Houston, plus recently recovered from Covid so had I had diminished lung capacity. I took up a blood oxygen finger monitor just to be safe. At the start of the climb I was at 90%, but hit a low of 58% on the Quandary accent two days prior and had to turn back at 13,500.

The accent up was well marked and you cross over a creek a few times so watch your footing so you don't have to hike with wet feet. The climb to the 13,000' ridge was pretty easy in the dark. We only had one flashlight between two of us and there was no moon out but it was plenty for the accent which took about an hour to get to the ridge. The traverse over to Democrat was easy but the final climb was a bit slippery as the rocks still had some ice. The trail was good and easy to navigate. There were points if you like boldering, it was easier just to ascend up the larger bolders The sun rose just over Boss right before we hit the peak at 6:40. There was only about 6 people on the peak and only two had passed us on their way down. The sunrise was awesome and the weather was windy but clear and crisp.

On the way down, you could see a steady stream of hikers on their way up. The trail back to the ridge was preferred but coming off of Democrat we followed one hiker who took a more direct route to Cameron. Again if you like boldering this would be a great route. One lady, who turned out to be a very fast ascender followed us then opted for the traditional route. We descended to the ridge about 5 minutes ahead of her before she passed us on the way up Cameron. The winds began to pick up on the ridge and by the time we were close to Cameron they were coming over the ridge at about 30 mph from LF to RT. We tried to stay off to the RT to limit wind exposure.

The only thing challenging about Cameron was fighting the winds. It was a straight forward quick climb and we moved as quickly as possible off the top where the winds were at least 40 mph by then. There was a lot of ridge exposure crossing over to Lincoln. I was knocked down by gusts a few times. Being from Houston, I've experienced many hurricanes and similar gusts. I would estimate gust were easily exceeding 60 mph. Right before the final Lincoln climb there were two rock "shelters" with some hikers hiding in them (not sure why because winds were not going to get better). The climb up Lincoln was awesome even in the wind and at 54 I still love to bolder up a final climb.

While winds were howling, we were able to stay just on the downwind side where it felt more comfortable. About 6 others were up there with us. I finally checked my blood oxygen on top of Lincoln and I was at 56%! I knew I need to get down pretty quick. The wind was brutal on the traverse back across to get to the trail headed to Boss. I thought it would become a tailwind to help us but continued to be a cross wind coming up the mountain. About 1/2 over to Bross, I became unsteady and was seriously considering bailing down into the valley on the LF which would be an easy decent but would be a long hike to a different trailhead. We then saw several trails that led across the face of Bross where you didn't have to ascend to the top and decided to head that way.

My son Nick kept me steady and upright as we moved to Bross. Luckily the trail was level and very easy. The winds did start to become more of a tailwind that helped. When we reach the split to either peak or go around the front of Boss, he took the peak and I took the front. He ran up and down and met me on the other side. By the time Nick met back up with me, we were on the downwind side of the mountain and I was feeling tremendously better.

The dreaded decent down Bross that everyone complains about is overrated. The trail was well defined and followed the ridge all the way down. While I don't have the lungs to be a fast ascender, i love a fast decent. Nick and I jogged and even ran almost all the way down Bross. If you're sure footed and have quick feet it was not any trouble at all. In fact, poles would have slowed us down way too much. We even passed our fast women hiker friend on the way down. I did have to slow down when my vision began to blur as I went back into oxygen debt. There were a few slips but I wouldn't even call this a scree decent. I've been trough those and they are tough. No, this was a well beat down trail.

There was a really nice waterfall once you reached the grass line. This whole hike was above the tree line and there was virtually no wildlife a couple of chipmunks. Not even a pika or marmot. However, for us, this was all about knocking out (4) 14'ers and not smelling the flowers too much.

We were about the 5th person to arrive back at the trail head at 10:20. So full round trip was 5:50. After some Boost O2 and lunch, I felt better and was pretty happy with the hike and accomplishment that morning. On the way out cars of all makes lined the road but there was plenty of room to park and navigate out.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice work!!
7/30/2020 8:55pm
Happy that you were able to recover from the covid and make the trip up! Pretty big accomplishment to go from covid to 14er!!

7/30/2020 10:40pm
There were some intense winds today as well, I found that those rock shelters on the way to Lincoln do in fact help with the wind. Enough to warm the hands and eat a granola bar at least. Glad you made it down okay, I agree with you about the descent off Bross not being too bad, but on low oxygen sounds somewhat scary.

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