Post #55: Brain Patterning to 14,148’ Democrat via the West Ridge
Sunday Dec 2, 2012.
Snowpack in the Arkansas
I took my good friend Jeff Morgan for an early climb of Democrat’s
West Ridge, a moderately technical but spectacular climb of one of Colorado’s classic
ridges for a 14er. 99.9% of all people
hike up from Kite lake to the East of Democrat, so by taking the West Ridge we
accessed the peak from CO 91 and the 4WD Access road in the upper Arkansas Basin Valley,
and climbed a route seldom climbed but spectacularly challenging.
The lack of snow this year so far is very alarming, you will see
the case in these photos and videos below. I sure do hope we get some snow
soon, not only so I can ski off peaks but so that we actually have water next
year in our rivers.
Jeff and I started at 530am from my vehicle and made our way up the
lower flanks of the west ridge on a south facing rock slope. The key was finding an old mining trail that
switch-backed up part of the face.
645 we were up on the ridge and treated to some awesome morning light in the
clouds as the sky changed colors with the rising sun.
The ridge is easy at first then difficulty increases as you make
your way towards the summit.
most solid rock is found closer to the crest with exposure mainly to the north
of the ridge. One cool section Jeff and
I crawled through a small hole in the rock which allowed passage to sneak
through an exposed gap and stay on the ridge and onward toward the summit. Winds were sustained at about 25 mph on the
ridge, but for December it wasn’t unbearably cold.
We were within 100 yards of the top when I captured Jeff crossing the remains of a high-altitude mining cabin that is nothing but ruins now.
The summit was nice and silent just before 8am, and the morning
views were amazing. We were able to sit out of the prevailing westerly winds
and relax for a bit.
It was probably 25
degrees with the sun warming us on top.
What a stellar workout!
Views from the summit and lack of snow.
After snacks and a few photos we chose to make the climb a circuit
but descending to the saddle to the south of Democrat via the south ridge and
then dropping down some cliffy terrain and ledges.
We dropped off into the basin on treacherous scree for 1800
vertical to arrive in the snowless upper Arkansas Basin which allowed us to
stroll in the warm morning sun and getting us back to my vehicle around 10am.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Hope to see you at one of my upcoming holiday events:
December 8 (Jon Fielder Gallery, Santa Fe Dr. Denver,
December 13 Wildife Experience (Everest) Parker