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Mt. Democrat - South Slope
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(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
Difficulty:Difficult Class 2, Moderate Snow
Ski: Advanced, D6 / R3 / II
Exposure:Moderate exposure along the immediate route. It should be avoidable with some slow hiking or scrambling.
Trailhead:Kite Lake
Start:12,000 feet
Summit:14,148 feet
Total Gain:2,150 feet
RT Length:2.50 miles
USGS Quad.:Climax
County Sheriff:Park: 719-836-2494
National Forest:Pike
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated:6/2016

Trailhead

Take Colorado 9 to Alma. In the middle of town and on the west side of the road, look for a small sign for the road to Kite Lake. Turn here and drive a bit through a residential area. Continue 6 miles to Kite Lake. The last mile of this road can be a bit more rough, but a good-clearance 2WD should still be able to make it when the road is dry. There are restrooms and some camping spots at the trailhead. You must pay a small fee to park/camp at Kite Lake. If you park below (no fee), walk up the road to Kite Lake.

Route

Photo #1 and Photo #2 show Mt. Democrat from the Kite Lake road and Photo #3 is a different angle, from Mt. Buckskin. In these photos, notice the distinct line of rock outcroppings on Democrat's south slope. They form a set of chutes which are used on this route. From the trailhead, begin hiking northwest toward a small basin, left of Democrat's southeast slope - Photo #4. Once in the small basin (12,500'), continue west to its west end and ascend 200+ feet to reach easier terrain, just above and northwest of Lake Emma - Photo #6 and Photo #7.

Now above 12,800', continue northwest toward the chutes and rock outcroppings in the center of the south slope - Photo #8 and Photo #9. This route ascends the easternmost chute, seen in the center of Photo #9. Enter the chute (Photo #10 and Photo #11) and pass through the rock outcroppings, near 13,300' - Photo #12. Now on easier ground (Photo #13), hike north/northwest up the upper slope (Photo #14) to reach the summit - Photo #15 and Photo #16. Descend via the same route or use the Mt. Democrat - East Slopes (standard) route.

Skiing?

In the easternmost chute: Photo #17, Photo #18
Below the chutes: Photo #19
The small basin (12,500'), northwest of Kite Lake: Photo #20

Notes

The route is only recommended with stable, spring snow conditions and axe+crampons are recommended.

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Route Photos  Print Options

Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11 Photo #12 Photo #13 Photo #14 Photo #15 Photo #16 Photo #17 Photo #18 Photo #19 Photo #20

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