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

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

Decalibron (four 14ers)

The “Decalibron”, an ~8 mile loop connecting Lincoln, Democrat, Bross and Cameron, is considered a simple outing. A set of peaks typically climbed in a single summer day, with a light pack, and ample time leftover to grab pizza in Alma and still be back in Denver for pre-dinner cocktails. In a word: easy. Yet, after five separate forays into this cirque I have never managed to piece together this seemingly simple quartet of high peaks. Weather, weakness and snow conditions, sometimes two of those three, have barred the path.

Alan, Brody and I planned to climb an adjacent peak, but upon arrival at the trailhead the lure of extra mileage in the alpine proved too much. And with what amounted to a sneak attack, the mountain had inadequate time to prepare unsavory conditions, so beneath blue skies we began.


A trio of men in action suits: from left to right, Brody, Sandy and Alan


Headed up to the saddle, with Mt Democrat on the left.

The climb up Democrat was quick. Like a bunch of chatty Cathy’s, we whiled away the vertical feet while topics ranged from the ribald to life changing. It was the first time the three of us hiked, but with a surprisingly high comfort level this degree of rapport would see us around the circuit. Whoever spoke took the lead, thereby setting a pace that was conversational.

Brody leapt into the goofiness of flex shots with a zeal usually reserved for gift giving holidays and porn. Thus, we settled into a series of high altitude yoga poses throughout the day.


Brody throwing down half-moon atop Mt Democrat


Alan easing into Warrior III atop Mt Democrat.

The remainder of the climb came off without a hitch. The traverse to Cameron, while laborious, was quick, and the walk across its broad summit with no discernible high point lead quickly to Mt Lincoln. The traverse to Mt Bross, whose summit is closed and whose true apex I can neither confirm nor deny we trod upon, had the feel of a frontage road. A wide trail across the moonscape feel that is characteristic of this route’s highpoints.


Brody and his new ice axe. The angle was shallow, but the axe was new and begging for use, so out it came. Anyone who has ever bought new gear and experienced the jubilant anticipation of using it knows exactly why that ice axe got its first bite through sastrugi.


Traversing towards Bross with thin air, blue skies and smiles abundant.


The newfound and perilous activity, ice axe juggling. Due to fear, or in this case common sense, this effort was a complete failure, unless success is measured in tossing an axe into the talus.


We left the trail and dropped down a gully, allowing for a speedy descent in the shallow snow.

All in all, a successful outing with perfect weather and ideal partners. An alpine respite, whether or not earned, is in effect, but I hope to find the crystalline air and heightened focus of high places in the New Year.

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