Peak(s):  Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Date Posted:  04/29/2009
Date Climbed:   04/27/2009
Author:  fox_inthesnow

 I‘ll try the Decalibron - hold the Calibron  

On Sunday night I headed up as far up the road to Kite Lake as I could. A large snow drift blocks the road near a group of old mining buildings. I decided to spend the night in my Subaru and forego the extra 2.5-3 miles I could still gain by heading up the road with my tent. I stayed pretty warm and caught the tail end of the moon setting as clouds moved in.

Spent the night in relative warmth and awoke to a good 2-3 inches of fresh powder that fell during the night. It was pretty chilly at 15ºF but it looked like the sun would change that soon. I downed some breakfast and headed out around 7:45. I was hoping do the 4 peak traverse but I was already starting a little late...
The road to Kite Lake was a mix of consolidated snow/ice and dirt. I had rented snowshoes which I used but were not necessary. The plume of snow off of Democrat and some of the surrounding peaks were starting to sober my ambition for the complete traverse, but I assumed correctly that the winds would die down as the day wore on.

This is gonna be fun right?

I set a reasonable pace and reached Kite Lake at 9:15am. By this time the snowshoes were becoming useful. I stopped to force down some food/drink, and as I was grabbing something from my pockets, my map seriously blew right out of my hands. It was 100 yards away in a few seconds!

Luckily the route up Democrat is fairly straightforward, although I took a more direct line up the slope than I should have. By now the fresh powder layer on the snow was warming up and it hadn't bonded well to the firmer surface underneath. The layer underneath got slippery as the temperature warmed up to 25-30ºF and several times I had to self-arrest ( but hey my ice axe got to serve a purpose). Rather than head for the Democrat-Cameron saddle I stayed on a direct push up the snow field and had some kick-stepping fun. The snowpack was very good aside from the questionable layer on top.

From past trip reports on this site, it seemed like Democrat had a knack of wearing people out. I too became pretty tired on my approach and realized my pace was too quick. I tried to slow it down some but I still used quite a bit of energy kicking steps and heading up the slope. I reached the first "false summit" around 12:00 noon and took a forced rest, and summited around 12:20.

The Democrat-Cameron saddle I bypassed on the approach.

On the top!

Quandary & North Star

Cameron and Lincoln from Democrat summit

Bross and S-couloir (looks fun!)

I tried to psyche myself up for the remaining peaks and actually headed down the saddle for Cameron. I took a long break after heading up the saddle a little bit, but by now I was exhausted and at a turning point. I threw in the towel and decided to save them for a later day. I definitely could have pushed on but it would have been a hellish day. javascript:emoticon('')

As I came down the firm snowpack underneath the powder layer was presenting an opportunity, and I took it! I had the best glissade I've ever had, as I was able to descend at least 600 feet in one long run. Thats a good way to travel! I looked back up at the saddle when I was down at the lake and regretted having descended, but knowing it was probably a good decision how tired I was - and how in shape i need to be.

The long glissade

My approximate route

In all the day was pretty straightforward, but still a challenge. I'll definitely be back to finish the rest of these guys.


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