Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Bross (7/31/2010)

Route Name: Northeast Ridge from Stewart Creek (standard route)
Start Elevation: 12,000 ft.
Mt. Democrat Elevation: 14,148 ft.
Mt. Cameron Elevation: 14,238 ft.
Mt. Lincoln Elevation: 14,286 ft.
Mt. Bross Elevation: 14,172 ft.
Elevation Gain: 3,524 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 6.92 mi (according to my GPS, 7.25 mi. according to the books)


Before this hike, I had done 36 of the 54 14ers. I finally decided it was time to deal with the crowds of the DeCaLiBro. My father did these back in 1990 and its amazing to see how "popular" hiking the 14ers has become. I can recall doing Quandary as my first back in 1991 and only running into a few select parties that day. How times have changed.
The other highlight of today is we decided that Democrat would be a good first 14er for my five-year old son Luke. The distance is quite short and the "class 2" of the hike from the Democrat-Cameron saddle is quite modest.
Luke did quite well. While I and my friend Matt hiked ahead and went for the loop hike from Kite Lake my son Luke hiked with my parents at a slower pace. Keeping things slower and interesting for my boy he was able to summit Democrat with little trouble. The big positive from the crowds is Luke had plenty of encouragement from very nice people along the way. He turned out to be the youngest on the trail that day so he had some celebrity going with this. The other motivation for him was the word of a large snowfield just below Democrat's summit. And he did indeed enjoy a great snowball fight after summiting.

From the summit of Mt. Democrat
From the summit of Mt. Lincoln

From the slopes of Mt. Bross

Words of wisdom from this experience of taking my 5-year old up a 14er:
  1. Be prepared for all potential 14er hazards. He was equipped with raingear and good weather report for the day. He was equipped with a small REI kids pack with its own camelbak and we forced him to hydrate regularly to ward off dehydration and altitude sickness. He was equipped with proper hiking shoes and clothing overall. In other words, taking your young kids on a 14er is no child's play.
  2. Keep him motivated. Somehow it seems 5 years don't quite have the same appreciation of nature and climbing and the outdoors as adults do. They're mostly out there because its what Dad does and "monkey see, monkey do." Give the kid goals to shoot for and keep his/her mind off of how long or hard the hike seems.
  3. Allot for lots of time. Kids love to explore every stick and rock along the way and need the time to rest and enjoy the hike. This speaks especially to making sure the weather is allowing the necessary time for the hike.

Words regarding Bross
It is very clear from signage that the summit of Mt. Bross remains closed. For those wishing to hike all three official 14ers in this loop here is what we learned during this hike:
  1. As we stood on Lincoln's summit we could see a pickup truck and a man in the distance parked on the summit. On this particular Saturday they were up there from roughly 9:30am to 10:30am. As we traversed Cameron we saw the pickup truck leave the summit and shortly thereafter several hikers heading up to the summit.
  2. As we hit the descent trail on Bross, around 11:10am, we heard a pair of motorbikes and at least one ATV roaring up to the summit of Bross. Somewhat humorously, the summit of Bross soon looked like a herd of cockroaches when the light is turned on as a swarm of roughly 20 hikers went full-speed down the western slopes from Bross' summit heading for the descent trail. Not sure what the owners do to those found on the summit. But IMHO, if you do decide to summit Bross, might wish to at least be somewhat respectful and make your stay clean and short.


Had a perfect day for weather. Though most of our trip out to Colorado had the daily 60% chance of thunderstorms forecasted, we were fortunate enough never to get any morning rain. This day saw no issues with impending storms. The clouds that did roll through just added to the great panorama of photos we took.


Wow. This by far was the most people I've ever seen. It was a good weathered-July Saturday and literally everyone and their grandma was up there (we did see someone in their 70s!). My estimate is 250+ people. The route up Democrat was like a trail of ants. As we moved on to Cameron/Lincoln the route still had a lot of people but was *much* less crowded.


Little to add here. The entire route is easy to follow. The signage near Bross is easy to understand and follow. We did run into a very kind CFI crew on the descent from Bross whom we talked to for awhile. They were on the lower 20% of the trail working on re-routing the trail through rock steps to make it more self-preserving as opposed to going up through the dirt/grass slopes.


Up Democrat in 1:32:34
Over to Cameron in 1:12:42
Over to Lincoln in 14:57
Over to and down Bross in 1:59:49


Here is the track file from our climb:

My Track


If you wish to see all of my photos from this hike you can click the photo below and it will link to my Google Photo Album:

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