Mt. Democrat - East Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
Ski: Intermediate, D4 / R2 / I
|Total Gain:||2,150 feet|
|RT Length:||4.00 miles|
|County Sheriff:||Park: 719-836-2494
Take Colorado 9 to Alma. In the middle of town and on the west side of the road, look for a small sign for the road to Kite Lake. Turn here and drive a bit through a residential area. Continue 6 miles to Kite Lake. The last mile of this road can be a bit more rough, but a good-clearance 2WD should still be able to make it when the road is dry. There are restrooms and some camping spots at the trailhead. You must pay a small fee to park/camp at Kite Lake. If you park below (no fee), walk up the road to Kite Lake.
Photo #1 is a view of Mt. Democrat during the drive up the Kite Lake road. From the parking area, follow the blocked road north near the lake and past a few camping spots - Photo #2 and Photo #3. Continue north and ascend to the Kentucky Belle Mine at 12,400' - Photo #4, Photo #5 and Photo #6. Follow the trail onto Democrat's east slopes (Photo #7) and ascend a rugged slope, near 12,600' - Photo #8. Near 12,800' (Photo #9), ascend a few switchbacks to reach 13,000' where the trail turns right and heads north across the east slope - Photo #10. Continue north to reach the Democrat-Cameron saddle ( 39.34171° N, -106.13224° W) at 13,400' - Photo #11.
From the saddle, turn left and follow the trail west up the ridge - Photo #12. After climbing approximately 200', the trail turns left and traverses southwest across the slope - Photo #13 and Photo #14. After a long stretch of trail that spans much of the slope, the terrain becomes steeper and there are few small switchbacks that lead to the top of the slope. Continue to reach the summit ridge ( 39.33886° N, -106.13634° W) near 13,900' - Photo #15.
Walk over to the final pitch (Photo #16) and follow the trail up to the summit ( 39.339542° N, -106.139946° W) - Photo #17. Taken from Mt. Bross, Photo #18 is a view of the upper route with snow coverage.
A spring ski of the East Slope route is possible in most years. This is the easiest ski descent on Democrat and one of the easiest on a CO 14er, but the slope often has spotty snow conditions in spring. Ski back to the false summit, drop down the east slope, and return to Kite Lake using any snow you can find - Photo #19.
The summit area with snow: Photo #20
Descending the east slope: Photo #21, Photo #22, Photo #23, Photo #24
The basin, below Democrat and Cameron: Photo #25, Photo #26
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