In our bid to climb seven 14,ers in 7 days, Tom Vervaeke and I blew some more comp time to take Thursday off to climb the above mention mountains. Actually we left on Wednesday evening from Colorado Springs (7:00pm) so we could pitch our tents at the starting point at Kite Lake. Tom and I always have these 4 wheel drive discussions as we rate the off road ability of my Saab against his 4X4 Mazda truck. We had just finished one as we neared the last series of switchbacks to the parking area. We had already forded two creeks and one snow bank coming up. One last small snow bank obstacle remained. Tom scouted the road and returned to the truck, saying lets go for it. We did and really almost made it…almost.
Yes, almost, but as we both stepped from the car at 12,000 into 2 feet of snow it was obvious it was …almost. After numerous attempts to dig out with our snow shoes and place them under the wheels (Don’t read this Sherpa rep) we decided it was high centered. Well Tom did as you recall I am not a 4 wheeler. He suggested we both lift from the front. Boy were we successful. As soon as we lifted the truck rolled backwards down the road. Ok, I closest to the driver’s door, but hey, it is his truck. (I could see me not getting to take) he ran around me as I hung on getting dragged through the snow. He reached the brake in time and the truck came to a halt…for good. We set up our tent in the glow of our headlamps and watched the blanket of stars unfold above our heads. Later that night a spectacular lighting storm took place BELOW us on the plains. WOW!
We awoke at 4:30 am and after some quick hot calories started up Mt Democrat. What started as a 30 degree easy snow slope ended up as a 50 degree very hard frozen snow slope with some exposure. We reached the top in 2 hours after about 2100 feet elevation gain, pausing to look over at Mt Arkansas that I had been turned back on in Feb. The view was fantastic to say the least. Then we had to drop 750 feet to the saddle between Mt Cameron (14,000+) and not an official 14er. It is no fun to lose 750 feet then immediately climb it, but we did it in good time and traversed over to Mt Lincoln, climbing to the small summit just as clouds enveloped us. After signing the register we started the long but easy traverse to Mt Bross. Finding the summit cairn in the clouds was the hardest part as the summit is as large as the Astro dome parking lot!
After some 5-6 miles we were ready for a quick descent and we found it in a steep twisting couloir leading right back to Kite lake. Loosing 3,000 feet in 10 minutes was great. I always seem to slide faster than top as my shell pants are slicker (read cheaper) and I slid down with only 2-3 self-arrests due to excessive speed (read going way to fast and out of control). I almost slid all of the way to the campsite (slight exaggeration). Tom followed and we arrived back at the campsite in 5.5 hours for the trip.
The snow conditions were: frozen snow in the morning, slush by 11:00; no snowshoes were required, however ice axes were. After climbing Tabeguache and Shavano on Sat, we had climbed 5 14ers in as many days. Tomorrow Tom and I along with a friend, Denise will attempt Grays and Torries bring our total in 7 days to 7. We will let you know how it turns out!