Monday, August 18, 2014

#19 - Climb Combo 14ers

In Colorado there are 50+ peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation, and I've been fortunate enough to climb a couple of them.  So for my challenge, I wanted to do multiple in the same climb.  After some back and forth, we settled on the Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross loop.  Since Kristen and I conquered Mount Democrat last summer, we decided to finish the loop.

Mount Cameron

We started our climb at about 4:30AM, using the moon and a small flashlight as our guide.  We made our way up and up as the cold and wind blasted us.  Since we had done the start of this route before, we knew what to expect, so that made the climb more manageable.  When we reached the saddle between Democrat and Cameron, we basked in the fact that we could be guides for people climbing Democrat, and we got the rest of the climb up Cameron to ourselves.  Frost covered the trail as we hiked in the shadow of the mountain towering above us, but we trekked and trekked until we finally reached the summit at 14,238 ft.  Although Cameron is considered an "unofficial 14er," it is still the 17th tallest peak in the state.  Counts for me!  We snapped a quick picture and because of the cold, we wanted to move on quickly.  Onto the next!

On the way up

On top of Cameron

Mount Lincoln

headed along the ridge toward Mount Lincoln, which looked like the most daunting stretch of the entire trip.  One couple was coming down from the summit but aside from them, we still had this entire stretch to ourselves.  The route got a little frostier and a little sketchier.  The last couple hundred feet proved to be a little daunting, so Kristen was content to stop just short of the summit, still conquering all but the final hump of Lincoln.  I headed up the slippery rocks and found myself on the summit at 14,286 feet - the 8th tallest peak in the state.  Still unable to really enjoy it because of the piercing wind, I snapped a quick photo and headed right back down to catch back up with Kristen.  Onto the next!

Lincoln from Cameron

Lincoln selfie

Mount Bross

This is when we finally started having a GREAT time!  The sun was finally coming up - the wind was dying down, and the satisfaction of climbing the two previous mountains was hitting us.  This was also the easiest stretch of the entire climb.  We headed down the easy hike across the ridge and started our final ascent of the day.  Tired and worn out, we took a few last bursts of energy and found ourselves standing once again on top of the world - 14,172 feet - the 22nd tallest peak in CO.  Because the weather was finally getting nice, and we were on the final mountain, we definitely took our time and enjoyed this one!

Lincoln from route to Bross

From Bross - Democrat, Cameron & Lincoln (and Quandary in background)

The Descent

Now all that was left was the way down - we knew there would be tough stretches, but it would be a relatively easy trek down to the trailhead.


About halfway down we ran into a snag.  The route split and headed down a really rough trail.  About halfway down this chunk, we were in a little over our heads - scrambling, scooting on our butts, crab walking, and shuffling our way down a super steep part of the trail.  We made it down a few feet at a time, and we were getting closer to where it leveled off.  After probably about 30 people were with us on the trail, and after a long time of brutally trudging our way down, a man's voice said that the REAL trail was about 50 yards away from us - we were on a rain gully that tons of people had taken that made it appear to be the trail.  So after all that ordeal, we had to scramble our way across a whole lot of rocks to make our way back to the trail.

Ugh...  Awful...

Once we regained our composure, we headed down, and the rest of it was uneventful.  That section sucked the life out of us, but we both tried to keep enjoying the rest of the journey.  Down and down we continued, until we finally reached grass... then flat ground... then finally the trailhead, thankful to be done.

Aside from our little unanticipated struggle, it was a great day, a great hike, and it was a great accomplishment for the two of us!

14ers 3, 4, and 5 in the books!

On the summit of Bross

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