March 5th, 2005
With winter quickly departing and Amy actually having the weekend off, Coloradoís alpine Winter Wonderland was calling once again. Realizing I had only added 3 new winter 14ers this year, our sights were set among the highest of the high. Immediately Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Bross, and Mt. Cameron came to mind, redemption was my motivation. A month earlier I had planned to summit these peaks along with Mt. Democrat, but a bout with the flu allowed me to only summit Mt. Democrat and just getting back to the car was a battle. Wanting another shot at these 3 summits the plan was made and the alarm clock set for 5 a.m. For my summer trip report of Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Bross CLICK HERE. For my trip report of a winter climb of Mt. Democrat CLICK HERE. CLICK HERE to view the topo map of the route. CLICK HERE to view the elevation profile of the route.
With winter quickly departing and Amy actually having the weekend off, Coloradoís alpine Winter Wonderland was calling once again. Realizing I had only added 3 new winter 14ers this year, our sights were set among the highest of the high. Immediately Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Bross, and Mt. Cameron came to mind, redemption was my motivation. A month earlier I had planned to summit these peaks along with Mt. Democrat, but a bout with the flu allowed me to only summit Mt. Democrat and just getting back to the car was a battle. Wanting another shot at these 3 summits the plan was made and the alarm clock set for 5 a.m.
Saturday morning came all too quickly and after the usual scramble for gear while still half asleep, we were off for the high country by 6 a.m. I had to make a breakfast pitstop at McDonaldís for some Egg McMuffins, the body needs fuel for these caloric intensive winter excursions. Wow, that was way too many syllables in one sentence. Amy being nutrition major wonít even smell my tasty breakfast, let alone take a bite. With a Egg McMuffin in one hand and an orange juice in the other I barrel down Highway 93 navigating the 4-runner with my leg. Now if I were just talking on my cell phone as well, I would look like the typical morning commuter heading off to the office. We hit I-70 at 6:30 a.m., cutting it pretty close to the skier-traffic cutoff time, but decide to take our chances up the interstate. Luck is on our side, or most of Denver is sleeping in since the ski resorts havenít received much snow, and I-70 is smooth sailing to Breckenridge. The bank reads 22 degrees as we roll through town and over Hoosier Pass into Alma. After just over 2.5 miles on Kite Lake Road we are stopped by snow. We were able to drive another mile or more a few weeks ago, but a guy in a Ford Escape stuck in the snow tells us this is definitely the end of the road today. I offer to pull him out and after quick yank with the 4-runner he is free.
We organize our packs and hit the trail just after 8:30 a.m., the GPS is reading exactly 11,000 feet. For curiosity sake Amy and I are also wearing heart-rate monitors since Iíve always wondered how many calories I burn on these types of hikes. Breaking my streak of leaving the snowshoes behind, we head up the road with them on our feet and they are definitely proving their worth after a very short distance. The morning is glorious and only 20 minutes into the hike we have to stop and remove some clothing. I take off my fleece and am down to my base layer, is it really still winter? Continuing down the road and I notice an avalanche that has run recently on a steep east-facing slope, good to know if we feel like trying Mt. Democratís east slopes at the end of the day. We are still too hot and have to stop again to unzip the vents in our snow-pants, man these winter conditions can be brutal sometimes. After a little over an hour we reach Kite Lake and decide to take the west slopes up Mt. Bross first. We can see that we will still need our snowshoes for another couple hundred vertical feet and we will need them to cross over Kite Lake on the descent, so we reluctantly decide against stashing them.
We aim for the right side of a prominent gully of Mt. Brossís west slopes, and as we ascend we can see a solo hiker a few hundred feet above us. Just below the gully the snow gives way to rock, allowing us to take off the snowshoes. We continue along the right side of the gully until weíre about 1/3 the distance to the summit and then cross over to the left side and head towards the ridge following a finger of rock. From the lake we could see the slopes on the north side of the ridge were free of snow so this becomes our route. Iíve descended this route in the summer and it is a loose, miserable scree slope, but with the ground frozen the scree is staying in place quite nicely. We continue up the steep grind following the ridge until we regain the trail that traverses left towards the summit. Near the summit we see two other climbers that have ascended Mt. Bross via another gully just north of our ascent route, I guess there are many ways to skin a 14er. We reach Brossís large, flat summit at 12:15 p.m., just under 4 hours from when we left the car. I check my heart rate monitor and see that Iíve burned a whooping 2,700 calories so far, I knew I should have ordered a couple more Egg McMuffins. Amy being much smaller than me, and also much fitter, is barely at 1,000 calories. Ha, that will teach her for being in great shape. The two other climbers are taking shelter from the wind behind a rock break and there is no signs of the solo hiker we seen earlier. Looking west from the summit we see Pikes Peak, Mt. Silverheels, Mt. Evans, Mt. Bierstadt, Grays Peak and Torreys Peak. To the north is Quandary Peak, Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Cameron, and to the east is Mt. Democrat and Mt. Buckskin with the giants of the Sawatch Range behind them. After some photos and a quick conversation with the other hikes we head down the slopes towards the Cameron-Bross saddle to get out of the wind. At the low-point of the saddle Amy needs some food so we stop to take a break, I tell her she should have had some Egg McMuffins for breakfast like me. J
After about 20 minutes we continue on our way towards Mt. Lincoln, skirting the east side of Mt. Cameron. At 1:45 p.m. we summit Mt. Lincoln and exchange taking summit photos with the other two hikers. After signing the summit register they recognize my name from 14erworld and one guy introduces himself as fellow 14erworld member Ryan Mishmash. It is a small world, 14erworld that is. They camped at Kite Lake last night and got a late start this morning since all their water had frozen during the night. We all depart after 2 p.m. making our way towards Mt. Cameron, the final summit of the day. Once back down to the Lincoln-Cameron saddle I have to stop for a sanity adjustment. Ever since we took off our snowshoes my ice-ax has been banging against them like a freaking cow bell and I just canít take it anymore. Amy laughs at me as I search for the quietest arrangement of my climbing accessories. With that dilemma behind me, we press onward summitting Mt. Cameron and then drop down its west ridge back towards Kite Lake.
Cameronís west ridge is quite pleasant, we are able to plunge step down some snowfields arriving quickly at the Democrat-Cameron saddle. The weather has closed in on us and it begins to snow as we turn south and head towards the lake. We stick to plunge stepping down the snow when possible, finding that technique much more expedient than the rock. Back at Kite Lake we put our snowshoes on again and are spared the miserable wallow I had a month ago trying to cross the lake without snowshoes. Once across the lake Ryan and his friend stop to pack up their camp and Amy and I continue the three miles down the road. About a mile down the road we caught the solo hiker we had seen earlier in the day, it is another 14erworld member, Matt Pierce. Us 14erworld members are everywhere. He also camped out at the lake the evening before and had some trouble with a steep snow slope below the summit of Mt. Bross, just above where Amy and I had gained the ridge. We walked the rest of way down the road with Matt, exchanging 14er stories which made the remainder of the hike pass by quickly. Ryan and his friend caught us just before the vehicles and we all arrived back at 5 p.m.
Our roundtrip hiking time was just about 8.5 hours and I was glad to have redeemed myself on Mt. Bross and Mt. Lincoln, two more winter 14ers down. It had taken me almost the same time just to hike Mt. Democrat a month ago, and I had an epiphany while we were getting ready to leave. On the Mt. Democrat hike a month ago, I thought I felt so poorly because I had just gotten over the flu, but I realized I made a critical mistake on that hike. For breakfast that morning I had two homemade breakfast burritos, made with egg whites, low-fat cheese, wheat tortillas, and all that healthy crap. It hit me like a ton of bricks that it wasnít the flu that day, it was the I didnít believe in the power of the Egg McMuffin, a critical lapse in judgment I wonít be repeating anytime soon. You live and learn on these winter 14ers, and I have definitely learned.
March 5th, 2005