A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mt Democrat and Mt Lincoln

After our success on Quandary Peak, Alan and I were ready to put some more miles on our boots and attempt another 14er. There is a collection of 14ers that wrap around cirque near Alma, CO. Of this group I still had not stood atop Lincoln and Alan had yet to summit Democrat. With 13 miles ahead of us we were glad to have the extra daylight in the evening, as we knew a slog lay ahead.

Pictured below is Alan with Democrat in the background.IMG_5374

As often the case in the winter, the road is not maintained, so we had 2.75 miles of hiking to reach the summer trailhead. The trailhead features two bathrooms, one with a door frozen shut and the other with a door that had evidently been left open.


While resting at the trailhead and enjoying food and drink, we opted for a ridge climb as opposed to the lower angle standard route. The terrain looked doable from our vantage point in the valley floor.

Outlined below is our intended route.IMG_7228

It got steep fast and the rapid pace we had set slowed considerably.


The slow pace was no problem as we viewed the day as a tortoise and the hare sort of adventure, which is what one needs to do in the rarified air at 13,000 feet. That is, find a pace you can maintain and stick with it. The problem we ran into was a ~70 feet of steep snow to cross. We had no crampons but we could have managed without them. But we also lacked the ability to determine snow conditions and avalanche potential. In addition, neither of us had avalanche beacons or shovels as we did not intend to cross avalanche terrain. After staring at the slope for 5-10 minutes we determined it was not worth it and turned around.

It is the first time Alan and I have had to make this decision as a team. It is always a good test and it was good to see that neither of us applied any pressure to go for the summit. Instead we opted to live to climb another day and began our descent, which was long. I got back to the truck to realize I had lost my keys, but that is another story.

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