Our very ambitious climb of the DeCaLiBro group began with an 0400 rendezvous outside of my house in COS where we all car-pooled up and began the drive to Kite Lake. I led the caravan of seven vehicles and we met one other car there, arriving at about 0615 to a nearly full parking lot. Our group was made up of faculty and friends from four academic departments at the US Air Force Academy, as well as a nine international cadets who were in town for orientation prior to reporting to USAFA to begin their Basic Training and four-year journey on Thursday, 28 June. I am hosting two of those cadets (Rwanda and Senegal) and thought that a massive climb with several of them would be a great acclimatizing and spirit building event for them on a free day. So, the group all assembled at the trailhead for our “before” picture and the mob started hiking at 0635
There’s not much to say about the clockwise DeCaLiBro Loop that hasn’t been covered, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. The climb up Democrat reminded me of an Alaska license plate (Klondike Gold Rush Scene) because there were so many people hiking. All were very friendly, though, and we enjoyed meeting an interacting with them at several points along the way, as they were curious about our very diverse group. We had several other flatlanders there to do either their first 14er or to reconnect with the mountains, so the paces varied. I stayed back as sheepdog for the group and got our trailing group to the summit in just under two hours on a perfect day. Our more ambitious cadets made it up in about 1:15 and waited for us.
Once on the summit, we pulled out flags for each of our cadets and took a great shot of them. We also had a Canadian cadet from their Royal Military College and my nephew held the American Flag. I hope all of you know the flags being displayed. I’ll add a key at the end.
A few in the group peeled off after Democrat returned home to COS, while the remainder of the group headed down to the saddle and over to Cameron. Again, I followed for most of this, taking pictures and keeping the groups in site. The plan was for all to meet up again atop Lincoln.
The picture above shows our group on Cameron. A few decided to go directly to Bross from here and meet us at that summit for the descent, while my awesome daughter-in-law (mother of my grandson—future 14er climber extraordinaire) led others to Lincoln far ahead of us (below).
The Lincoln climb was uneventful, except for the standard winds on the ridge crests—especially bad on top of Cameron. The winds were lighter on the spike of Lincoln, though, and many climbers were relaxing there, enjoying the view and the jump-roping.
We left Lincoln and rejoined some of our compatriots at the intersection below Cameron to head over to Bross. On the way, our cadet from Kazakhstan became altitude sick and we all gathered a small distance from the Bross summit to assess the situation. He’d thrown up a few times and was quite pale. We loaded him with fluids and picked five of our strongest—and most experienced among the ‘Mercans—to cut straight down to the Bross scree trail and get him down quickly. The rest of us went to the Bross summit to gather our remaining hikers and head down quickly to join our group of six.
The remaining trip down was without incident except for a few more puking stops and rehydrations. The footing was lousy most of the way, and those of us with poles and microspikes shared our equipment with the others. Our Kazakh friend got better as we went, but not completely. He slept the whole way home to COS and is doing fine now. Considering the size and composition of our group, I was reasonably happy that this was our only incident.
All in all, a great trip that the cadets really enjoyed. They loved showing all of the pictures to their friends and family back home via Facebook and I’ve got a new entourage of climbers ready and willing to conquer more summits—after they successfully finish Basic Training, that is! Here’s a toast to the (incoming) Class of 2016! Welcome to the Long Blue Line—and 14ers.com!!! Here’s a link to ALL of my photos from the trip.
(Flag key: Back Row L-R Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Rwanda Senegal, Georgia, South Korea, Canada; Front Row L-R US, Ecuador, Moldova, Gabon)
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.