Peak(s):  Mt. Lincoln  -  14,286 feet
Date Posted:  07/27/2014
Date Climbed:   07/18/2014
Author:  litote312
 Lincoln Amphitheater   

This is my first trip report on this site, though I have read dozens. I hope that it will be helpful for those interested in taking this route up Mount Lincoln. It's worth noting that I'm from the U.S., so it will never be amphitheatre in my eyes. Off then, we go.

Ever since 2008 when my folks bought a place in Fairplay, Hoosier Pass has become something of a regular drive. The view of Mount Lincoln from the pass never fails to impress me, especially in winter. It was not until recently that I learned of the route up the amphitheater that faces the highway, so when a friend and I had a Friday off work, we set our sights on hiking it. While I was glad to have avoided the crowds at Kite Lake, I do not intend on returning to this route. Here's why.

We broke camp at 5:00 a.m. on Hoosier Pass. My parents were out of town or else we would have enjoyed a bed and better-than-instant coffee in the morning, but I suppose I can't complain. There are several dispersed sites available and we were able to find one with ease despite our late arrival Thursday evening. The trailhead was simple to locate in daybreak, though we parked 200' or so down the road due to a minor washout. Most cars will likely not have a problem with it, but I did not want to test my Honda Civic. A father and son preparing to fish Montgomery Reservoir greeted us before we left the reservoir and began our hike.

Waterfalls on a sketchy path until you pass the headwall.

Not long after crossing the bridge adjacent to the trailhead, we were introduced to the terrain that would constitute much of the route leading up to the amphitheater. I am unsure if conditions in the past were better, but the trail was narrow and diverged several times. We managed to follow it up to the talus field, but after that we (somewhat accidentally) abandoned it and found our own way up. We stuck close to the waterfall in order to keep the slope reasonable, though we made a few mistakes that certainly could have been avoided.

One of the several mistakes we made on the way up to the amphitheater.

Eventually we escaped the steep, bush-covered slope and met with a large snowbank. We continued past it to the left after noticing a large cairn.

The first snowfield

After a hundred yards or so, we hiked towards the center for our trip up the amphitheater. A worthwhile view of cool rock bands (not ACDC) along the northwest face of the amphitheater commands your attention, but it is important to keep your eyes down in order to avoid the countless spider webs and old cans that dot the talus. Not long after we entered the amphitheater, the waterfall marking its end became visible.

Rock bands

Keep an eye out for these guys in the amphitheater

One must cross the stream at some point in order to avoid the snowbank and unpleasant scree on the east face of the mountain. We chose to do this after a steep slope, but there may be a better option.

A large pipe marked our crossing point. We had difficulty avoiding scree on the hike up to the old 4WD road, but eventually managed to reach it. After that, the hike was much more enjoyable despite the winds. An excellent view of nearby 13ers can be seen to the north, and it sparked a desire to climb Wheeler Mountain in the near future.

Wheeler Mountain in the center

We reached the summit near 9:00 a.m. for a 3 hour ascent. It was my buddy's first 14er so we weren't booking it up by any means, I'd expect 2-2.5 hours for a reasonable pace. Two women en route from Kite Lake joined us on the summit, and they were the only souls we saw on our hike.

Tested out my new blue rainjacket, performed well

The descent was a lot of the same: scree and spiders. We stuck towards the left (north) side of the amphitheater on the way down, which I wish we had done on the way up. We followed a more defined trail down the final slope and saw many more columbines than on our ascent.


Other than that, not much of our route changed and we reached the car just before 11:00 a.m. for a rather short day.

This route may sate desires for solitude on a 14er as this was my first summer hike with no other people on the route. I don't have an extensive climbing resume, so take that with a grain of salt. I still can't recommend it however... the scree slope out of the amphitheater takes a toll on your knees and the first mile through the forest is a little unpleasant. And then there's the descent. I wrote this report because others mentioned the pains of this hike in reports from the past few years, but I did not heed them and figured it would be easy due to the extremely short RT length. After all is said and done, I'd suggest accepting the crowds for this summit or just hiking some nearby 13ers.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Exiled Michigander

Nice TR and Photos
07/28/2014 15:06
I descended this route after doing the Decalibron via Democrat's North Ridge several years ago, and I still remember how bad it sucked! Looks like you made the most of it! I like your photos and writing stye--keep on doing non-standard routes and posting TR''s.


The route is a really sweet
04/02/2015 19:45
snow, ski and ice climb. Those couloirs when filled are 55+ degree snow climbs. I cannot recommend them enough when it's in condition.
Diamond couloir/Cabin Chutes
Lincoln Amphitheater as seen from the couloir

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