Nature Climb of Mount Democrat

2010.08.14 17:03

운영자 Views:7328

Climb of Mount Democrat, Mosquito Range
Alma, Colorado

July 30, 2010


On July 30, 2010, we left home at 5:00AM and drove west passing the Kenosha Pass of the Front Range.
We were nearing to the city of Fairplay.
It was somewhat wet summer in Colorado Plateau this year. The fields are still green.

On our right, we see the Mosquito Range with patches of snow near the summit ridge.
Some of these snow patches may never go away as it starts to snow again at the end of August.
The peak in the far right is Mount Lincoln and the another peak just left to it is Mount Bross.
Today's destination, Mount Democrat is hidden just behind them and is not visible here.

Heavy cloud cover made us worry about the early afternoon thunderstorm that happens very often in summer in the high country of Colorado. We have to hurry up and finish as early as possible.

At 7:00AM, early chilly morning rush at Kite Lake camping ground and the trailhead for Mount Lincoln.
A lot of climbing groups are here waiting for the rest of the members to show up.
The sun doesn't come up early in this deep valley of Buckskin Gulch between high mountains.

Here are the Volunteers of Colorado who will be doing some trail maintenance work.
This is America !! They are the invisible hands that keep the climbing trail in good shape for us.

Trailhead sign for Kite Lake

Three fourteeners are listed here together. They left out Mount Bross, another fourteener, because it is officially closed for climbers as it is a private property. One can climb all four of them in a day.
The chances of early afternoon thunderstorm would keep us from doing that.

As we see in the map, the circular trail shows only "Bross Bypass Trail" and the trail doesn't lead to the summit of Mount Bross. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) has been negotiating with land owners to open the summit area for climbers but, apparently, they haven't reached an agreement.
In the similar fashion, Mount Democrat and Lincoln were opened to public not long ago.

This person still sleeps in his sleeping bag while noisy people were passing by.
Why did he come here last night if he's going to sleep this late?

Our group from left : Jane (Practicing Geriatrician), Claudia (Ophthalmology resident), Paula (Intern), Josh (Kristin's husband), Kristin (Medical Student). Absent in the picture are Ethan (Internal Medicine at University of Colorado) and me (Over-the-hill surgeon)

Paula, crossing the Buckskin Creek coming from the Kite Lake. The climbing had just begun.

I took my eyes off the trail to see the Kite Lake and wildflower meadows. A few tents near the shore.

A long way ahead. We are in a huge glacial cirque, a dead-ended valley, and climbing to the ridge top.

We passed alpine tundra and climbing a steep talus field of upper alpine zone.
Occasional plants and a few pikas (small rabbit-like animal) near the trail.

Looking up the false summit (the real summit is beyond it), far and high up there !!

We arrive at the saddle (about 13,500 feet) between Mount Cameron (east) and Deomocrat (west).

More climbers are coming up from the Kite Lake trailhead in the Buckskin Gulch (the green valley below).

The slopes are getting steeper as the air gets thinner.
We are above 13,500 feet high. The summit isn't even visible.

We reach the false summit at about 14,000 feet. The real summit is visible to the west far away.
We can see a lot of early starters on the summit already. We are almost there !

Our group at the summit cone of Mount Democrat (14, 148 feet, 4,312 m) at about 10:00AM.

They want an old man to join them for a picture.

An unknown couple with the summit sign. The date is wrong.
The sign is kept in a plastic tube with a summit registration book.

To the south, the Colorado Plateau and the valley of Buckskin Gulch

This is the plastic canister that keeps the summit registration and sign (at center right).

Looking down the false summit and the path we climbed up earlier. We will go down the same route.
Beyond the false summit is Mount Bross (14, 172 feet, 4,320 m), another fourteener. Legally, we are not allowed to climb the summit of Mount Bross because the summit is a private property.
Since there's no one guarding the summit, a lot of climbers just silently go there.

The closer summit (center) with a flat top is Mount Cameron. Behind is Mount Lincoln.
Mount Cameron (14, 238 feet, 4,340 m) was taken off the list of Colorado Fourteeners because it's proximity to Mount Lincoln (14,286 feet, 4,354 m). It is classified as a subpeak of Mount Lincoln and frequently called as "Cameron Point". Who cares? From here, it does look like a legitimate summit with all the glories.
After a brief lunch break, we start our way down the mountain.

Claudia and Paula decide to climb Mount Lincoln.
Two are off and disappearing on the trail toward Mount Cameron.
As they are moving toward Mount Cameron, the rest of us start to head down.

On the way down, a few wildflowers at the side of the trail. A group of Varileaf Cinquefoils.

Wildflowers growing between rocks. These look like Goldeneyes or similar varieties of Sunflower.

These shaggy looking yellow flowers are Owl's Claws or Orange Sneezeweed.
They look withered but this is the way they always look. The soil has a plenty of moisture here.
These poor guys are growing as a dwarf variety being in the high Alpine zone.

Melting snow creates small seasonal streams and water loving alpine flowers flourish in or nearby.
These appear to be varieties of Water Knotweeds in different colors.

Going down toward Kite Lake (at right center). The shape of the lake does look like a kite !!
Walking down in the fields of wildflowers in the lower altitude, no doubt, it's summer time in Colorado.
Mount Buckskin, a thirteener (13,865 feet, 4,226 m), at the right side.

Rarely seen here, a wildflower by the name of "Elephanthead Lousewort"

A group of Western Indian Paintbrush in yellowish hue.

Subalpine Fleabanes in lavender color with a few yellow Cinquefoils.

American Bistorts in white, Water Knotweeds in pink, both love water growing in or by water stream.

A group of Splitleaf Indian Paintbrush in pink color.

All Colorado Fourteeners (mountains that is higher than 14,000 feet) are very similar to this.
As we climb past 12,000 feet, there are no trees as we are above the tree line.
And beyond, there is an area of alpine tundra with specially adapted grasses and wildflowers.
After that, it's alpine zone and then, at higher altitude, arctic zone (if there's permanent snow).
Most of the upper slopes of these mountains are talus (rock boulders) slope without dirt or soil.
I hated dusts inside the tent, and used to love the cleanness of this area while camping.
At the summit height, there are nothing but rocks, snow, and endless blue sky.
But the beauty is in the nothingness and vast emptyness.

Photo (7-30-2010) and text by SNUMA WM - August 14, 2010

Paul Mauriat - It Snows (a Korean pop song)
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