Mt. Democrat - South Slope
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:||Difficult Class 2, Moderate Snow|
Ski: Advanced, D6 / R3 / II
|Total Gain:||2,150 feet|
|RT Length:||2.50 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 and Photo #2 show Mt. Democrat from the Kite Lake road and Photo #3 is a different angle, from Mt. Buckskin. In these photos, notice the distinct line of rock outcroppings on Democrat's south slope. They form a set of chutes which are used on this route. From the trailhead, begin hiking northwest toward a small basin, left of Democrat's southeast slope - Photo #4. Once in the small basin (12,500'), continue west to its west end and ascend 200+ feet to reach easier terrain, just above and northwest of Lake Emma - Photo #6 and Photo #7.
Now above 12,800', continue northwest toward the chutes and rock outcroppings in the center of the south slope - Photo #8 and Photo #9. This route ascends the easternmost chute, seen in the center of Photo #9. Enter the chute (Photo #10 and Photo #11) and pass through the rock outcroppings, near 13,300' - Photo #12. Now on easier ground (Photo #13), hike north/northwest up the upper slope (Photo #14) to reach the summit - Photo #15 and Photo #16. Descend via the same route or use the Mt. Democrat - East Slopes (standard) route.
The route is only recommended with stable, spring snow conditions and axe+crampons are recommended.
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