The 14er Quad: Democrat, Lincoln, Cameron, Bross

Report from 6/30/18

I’ve been home from Nepal less than 2 weeks and the high altitude fever was already killing me! time for some more high peaks! 4 in a day to be exact.

Located South of Breckenridge, CO and North of Fairplay lies a series of 14ers in the Mosquito Range. Some of these got checked off my list on Thursday.

We left Littleton around 3am to drive the 2 hours to South Park. the trailhead for this quad is located up a dirt road Northwest of Alma. My partner and I started hiking at 5am. After reading various forums on the internet, we decided to take the advice of many and do the loop backwards, starting with Bross. The trail is steep with slippery scree and many have mentioned that it is much easier going downhill on Democrat, especially if you have bad knees. So, with that advice, we started with Bross. As we neared 14,000′, we ran into 2 mountain goats who were surprisingly chill with us hanging out with them. After a few selfies with the goats, we moved onward to the summit. Within 2 hours we were on top of our first out of 4 fourteeners for the day at 14,172′.

**A little note about Bross: Mount Bross’s summit is located on private property, so technically, you are not legally allowed to go to the summit. The trail scoots right along 14,000′ so if you do not feel comfortable trespassing, then you still at least hit 14k. The mountain itself lacks structural integrity. It is an old mining site and has not been maintained so with the summit trail closed it is a “climb at your own risk scenario. Also, NEVER EVER enter one of the mines as they all risk collapse. Other people have reported that on occasion there will be someone monitoring the fork in the trail on Bross to keep people off the summit. We didn’t see anyone on our ascent. My guess is because we started with Bross instead of Democrat and no one was monitoring the mountain that early.

After spending about 20 minutes enjoying the summit, we moved on to your next peak. Headed down the saddle, following an old mining path past Mount Cameron, we soon arrive at our highest point for the day. after 50 minutes of traversing, we were standing on the summit of Mount Lincoln at 14,295′.

A short 10 minutes of pictures and smiles, we move on to Mount Cameron. Since Cameron’s prominence does not meet the 300′ minimum, it is not an official 14er, and is listed as unranked. It is basically an extension of Lincoln’s shoulder. Regardless, it is named and still a peak in my book, and the trail goes across the summit so after maybe 20-25 minutes of hiking, we were standing on Mount Cameron at 14,238′.

We spent a good amount of time resting on the summit of Cameron knowing we had a large obstacle ahead. The downside to doing the loop backwards is the fact that Democrat is last, and it is the hardest of the 4. After dropping over 800 feet in elevation, we then had to re-ascend 700 of that within a half mile. it was slow, steep, rocky, and exhausting in the hot sun. After what felt like forever, we finally stood on the summit of Democrat at 14,148′. We are 4 for 4 on this fourteener loop!

Car to car, including our summit breaks, it took us 8 hours. We arrived back to our car at 1pm, and headed into South Park for lunch!

Definitely recommend this loop as you can check off 4 peaks of your 14er list. Be sure to acclimatize well before doing this climb as it is a long day above treeline. Bring lots of water and always be prepared for weather!

TRIP REPORT: Mount Mitchell (6,684′) – North Carolina’s High Point

Report from 11/19/17

Adventure and a wedding!

First off, a public congratulations to my sister Roxanne and her new hubby Joe on their wedding! I love you and I’m so proud of you!!!

Secondly, I will be honest, this is a short trip report. But you will soon understand why.

Rewind to about 2 days before I left for North Carolina. I was texting my sister and dad back and forth to figure out what exactly the plan was for the weekend. My sister and I had talked about going climbing together for her bachelorette party, and I was still waiting to get a confirmation from someone. I was due to land in North Carolina late Thursday night and would be in town all day Friday and Saturday for the wedding. Once I found out that we would have time to climb Friday morning and the rest of the day I would be free to do my own thing, I decided to start looking up things to do not having a clue of what was out there besides lakes, trees, trees, and more trees. I knew my sister lived fairly close to the Appalachians, so I decided to look up hikes in the area. I came to find out that North Carolina’s high point, Mount Mitchell, was only about a 2 1/2 drive from my hotel! So that is exactly what I did…

I took my little sister climbing,

Then, I drove out to Mount Mitchell, where I “hiked” the .25mi paved trail to the top; a mere 6,684’…

Was I dissapointed considering the fact that I live at 5,000′, and I have 11,000’+ peaks at my doorstep? Not Exactly. The views were beautiful, and the Autumn drive was incredibly colorful with the mass amounts of trees. It was a cool peak to check off my list, and the perfect way for someone like me to spend my short weekend in town!

North Carolina View (East)
Tennessee View (West)

As you can imagine, Saturday was wedding day! I wish I could’ve stayed longer to visit my sister, but I am glad that I was at least able to make it for the wedding!

TRIP REPORT: Mount Lady Washington, CO (13,281′)

Report from 8/20/16

The Overlooked 13er…

I know I wasn’t planning on any cool peaks during my week off, but it happened anyway! After all, what is a vacation without a massive mountain to climb? *winky-smiley-face*

Mount Lady Washington is located in Rocky Mountain National Park. It stands front-right of  Long’s Peak which is the park’s only 14er. This little pile of rocks constantly gets overlooked since a large majority of the people who hike this trail go to hike Long’s Peak.

L to R: Mount Meeker, Long’s Peak, Mount Lady Washington

However, MLW has literally the most sunning view I have ever seen in my life. It is one I highly reccomend if you are visiting RMNP. (See what I did there? I got lazy and just used letters…) Anyway, Mount Lady Washington, also known as “MLW”, “Lady”, “Lady Washington”, or “#5 in the Grand Slam”. It stands at 13,281 feet above sea level. It’s not nearly as impressive in size as its 14,261 foot neighbor, but it has very understated qualities.

I started my hike at 4:30am however the trail was not scarce. Because of the unpredictable weather the Colorado 14ers create because of their height, anyone wishing for a successful summit of Long’s has to leave in the middle of the night. I passed many hikers who were on their way up to Long’s Peak, and as I asked in passing to each group I went by, not a single person was hiking anything else. 

First light on the trio. (MLW is the pile of rocks on the right)

I reached Chasm Junction 3 1/2 miles from the trailhead just before sunrise. I took a break here and waited for the stunning view. Soon after the mountain turned pink, the orange, I headed up the trail less than 1/4 mile more before taking a hard left. There is no maintained trail on MLW and there are basically two main ways people reach the top. One is directly up the front, east face. It is a steep 2,000 foot climb in class 2 tundra/class 3 scrambling mix. The other is to hike to the Boulder Field camping area another mile and a half up the trail (also known as basecamp to Long’s), then to follow the Northwest ridge. I decided on the shorter steeper route for my ascent, and the longer, flatter route for the way down to save my knees. It was steep, slow going, and strenuous boulder hopping that seemed to never end. I was literally the ONLY person on that mountain all morning and I honestly doubt anyone else summited after I did. No one else that I passed on the way down was planning on MLW, and if there was anyone attempting the Grand Slam that day, they would’ve gotten rained out since it’s the last peak in the series and it began to rain just after I made it back to the trail head. 

my line up MLW

When I finally made it over that ridge, I was immediately in awe. The summit view, like I mentioned before, was absolutely incredible. I have climbed Long’s Peak 3 times, summited twice, and you do not get a better view on that mountain than on MLW. The famous diamond face on Long’s was massive as it stood right in front of me on that pile of annoying, frustrating rocks. It was immediately worth it. I sat, in solitary silence, just staring and the magnificent and majestic mountain standing in front of me. Long’s Peak has always been my favorite mountain and 14er, but I had never seen it like this before… My eyes teared up and I fell in love with Long’s all over again.

The Diamond (pictures do NOT do it justice)

Soon after decending the northwest ridge, I was reunited with the Long’s Peak trail, and the crowds. I enjoyed my solo time on MLW, and it is a peak I will never forget. 

The Boulder Field

My Summit List is growing!! Check it out!

TRIP REPORT: King’s Peak, Utah’s High point (13,528′)

Report from 7/25/16

For 5 years,  I have attempted to take a trip to the high Uintas to climb Utah’s highest point, and for 5 years, that plan failed for various reasons…. until now!

King’s Peak is a long multi-day trip with long trails and class 2 scrambling at the peak. But what planned on being a 3-day trip ended up being a very long 2-day trip. My climbing partner and I decided we would rather go home and have a day off to rest rather than attempting to go straight back to work. Needless to say, I slept in until noon and my legs are so sore that I fell over trying to stand up out of bed.

We began our adventure Saturday by driving the 3 hours from Salt Lake to the Henry’s Fork Trail Head. (Believe it or not but you have to go through Wyoming to get there.) We started hiking with our heavy packs and managed to burn through 5 1/2 miles of trail in around 2 hours. It was hot, and there were mosquitoes everywhere, and naturally we forgot to pack bug spray. We slowed down after crossing the main foot bridge that spans the Henry Fork River as the trail steepened and we were getting tired.

Henry’s Fork Basin

After another 3 hours we made it to about 11,500 feet and set up camp. After making a quick pasta meal, we attempted to fall asleep knowing we had a long early day ahead of us.

Sunrise on Henry’s Fork Peak and Mt. Powell
Our tent site

After waking up at around 5:15 am, we watched the sunrise, ate breakfast, and began getting ready for our day. We climbed to 12,000 feet to Gunsight Pass where we left the main route to follow a well known shortcut route that would shave 4 miles off our total distance. As much as everyone praises this shortcut, I beg to differ. it was well cairned for the first 1/3 of a mile but after the trail flattened out into a field, the cairns were incredibly far apart and hard to keep track of. However, even getting a little off track wasn’t bad because it was very easy to see where to go since the main trail went up the far side of the field. (but, I found snow! ..I love snow)

The scrambling and boulder hopping on the ridge was nothing new to me, however there was A LOT of it. A full mile and 1,000 feet of elevation gain was full of rocks, rocks and more rocks. Knowing my own personal pace, I assumed that last mile would take about an hour…. because of the scrambling and boulder hopping, it took nearly 2 hours instead to reach the summit. Finally, we arrived to 13,528 feet, and what a relief.

Summit View

The way back down was exhausting. Stepping ever so carefully from rock to rock, controlling every move (which is why my legs are so sore) and trying not to worsen my blisters that had formed the day before. By the time we got back to camp we were already exhausted; my ankles bruised from trying to manipulate the rocks in high-top hiking boots. We talked about staying the second night anyway but the nearest water source was a mile down the hill and we were out of water. We decided to just take it slow, stop to refill water bottles at the stream down the trail, and even wear flip flops on our way down. it was 9 miles back to the car… and yes, I did it in flip flops. My ankles were so bruised and my blisters had popped despite my best efforts, so it was actually more comfortable to hike down without boots on. it was slow going and we were completely exhausted by the time we got back to the car since we spent 15 hours of our day on foot.

King’s Peak is center-back

I am glad I finally got to cross this one off my list, but it was definitely the hardest climb, physically, that I have ever done. Will I do it again? probably not, but who knows. I have bigger and better mountains planned and this was a good test of my physicality to see what I specifically need to train better in the future (and its apparently my calves).

TRIP REPORT: Mount Evans, CO (14,265′)

Report from 6/24/16

Right now, I am sitting in my grandparents living room in Littleton, CO. About 12 hours ago (it is now 4:00pm) I woke up for an “early bird” hike.

Tomorrow my cousin is getting married in Estes Park so I decided to come a day early and play! An old friend from summer camp was supposed to meet up with me to go climb Greys and Torreys Peaks this morning. However, about a week ago she messaged me and said she was unable to get the day off. This meant that my only option left for a hiking partner would be my husband (who is not exactly a fan of hiking). We talked about it and he agreed to do something “easy”. (There is no such thing as an easy fourteener) So my plans to do G&T were scratched and we decided to climb Mount Evans since it is a bit closer to Denver and the hike is a lot shorter.

We woke up at 4:15am (which, believe it or not, is pretty late by 14er standards.) For those who have climbed in Colorado before or live there, they understand that those mountains are so high they create their own weather as the day heats up. Any hike you do must start early enough that you can summit and get below treeline before the thunderstorms kick in, and this is why we wake up at ungodly hours of the morning….

Since this hike is so much shorter, I knew that if we started at sunrise, summit by about 8 and returned, we would have plenty of time to spare. So, we took the hour and a half drive up to the trail-head at Summit Lake (12,800) where we saw big horn sheep and watched the sunrise and began our hike at about 6:30. We were originally planning on taking the West Ridge route which was an estimated 2 1/2 hours. But I knew a lesser known route up the Northeast face that would shave an entire hour off that climb time (and would make my husband a lot more inclined to climb the mountain). This was an incredibly direct route where you basically just go straight up the side instead of up and around Mount Spalding and the ridge-line.

We were only a tiny bit slower on the uphill than I predicted. We reached the 14,265 foot summit at 8:15am. The skies remained clear enough we hung out on the summit for about an hour and a half  enjoying the views (and mountain goats) before heading back down.

When we got back down we enjoyed one last view of the lake and headed out. Clouds formed from nothing within about 20 minutes and the rain kicked in just as we were getting back onto the freeway. (proves just how fast things can change in these mountains.)

Overall, it was a fun little peak with spectacular views and I am super proud of my husband for climbing his first fourteener!!! He still thinks I’m crazy, but after the views he saw this morning, I think he might finally be beginning to understand why these peaks become my happy place. Now it is time to shower and get ready for a wedding!