Mt. Democrat – 9/16/06

Originally written 9/16/06

Mt. Democrat, 14,148′

I woke up at 4am this morning to go get up some mountains. Although I planned on climbing Democrat, Lincoln, and Bross (all 14ers), the conditions were a bit much. I checked the forecast and it called for 60mph wind gusts at 12,000, plus a decent amount of snow.

Got there about 7:30, threw on my boots, made sure I had everything ready, etc. I noted that the outside temp was 31, around 12,000′. Scout got impatient while I was doing this.

It was cold and windy, and the terrain was killing my speed enough as it was (4-6″ loose rocks, slick with a layer of wet snow on top), so I didn’t take any more pictures until I reached the summit. Sorry. It was pretty dark gray, with sustained winds at a mere 15-20mph.

I passed a huge group of people on the way up, no idea what sort of group it was but I’m guessing they’d planned this well in advance, otherwise they probably wouldn’t have voluntarily come out in the storm that was going on. Higher up, there was a good 6″ of snow covering everything, getting deeper (and wiping out footprints in a matter of minutes) constantly.

It started getting really windy up top, gusts that were 60mph easily. Here’s Scout not being too happy about the weather:

Like I said, I’d planned on hitting the adjacent 14ers. I would’ve been able to handle them, as I had the proper clothing to completely seal up against the elements (including facemask). Unfortunately, my dog wasn’t having fun anymore, and I have no intention of dragging her along when she’s already miserable. At least I’ve learned that in the future, if conditions are going to be bad, I’ve got to leave her home. I love having her along, but I also want her to have fun when we go.

After a long, slow slog through the wind and snow, we made it up to the top. The clouds opened up a bit right when I got there, making for some impressive views.

Picture of us with the summit in the background (on the way down). Notice the ice in her whiskers:

Here’s a picture of the lake for which the trailhead is named, Kite Lake:

The view from a little farther down showed that I was right to head down. Judging by the intensity of the snow blowing around, winds were at least 30mph sustained. My dog would have been hating every second.

Next week…something. What exactly, I’m not sure. Mt. Elbert maybe. Hopefully there won’t be near-whiteout conditions, and it’ll be a little more fun with a better view of the changing aspens.

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