Backcountry Skiing in Colorado

Skiing and Hiking in the Colorado Backcountry

Decalibron Loop, Four 14ers on 7/31/2010


I’ve been itching to get back into the mountains and do some peak-bagging.  It’s been a couple weeks since Jon and I summited Clinton, Traver and McNamee and I hadn’t summited a 14er since Dave and I skied Quandary.  I figured it’d be a great weekend to give the Decalibron loop a try.  So I e-mailed Dave and he rounded up Jon, Shawn and Nick and we all decided to head up and tackle the loop.

The Decalibron loop starts at the Kite Lake Trailhead, 6 miles west of Alma, CO.  The trailhead begins above treeline at about 12,000 ft.  This means to summit the first 14er one only needs to gain about 2000ft, pretty modest by 14er standards.  The low elevation gain makes this a popular trek and believe me, by the time we arrived there were already a bunch of cars parked.  I actually ran into a couple I had met working in Kansas city several weeks before!  They were out for the weekend to summit a 14er, small world!

We set out later than expected a little after 7:30am.  I’ll be honest, the main reason was because of the line for the bathroom!  I wasn’t about to set out on a several hour trek without first unleashing the demons.  Believe me I learned that lesson the hard way once before.

We set out with Jon leading the way up the trail to our first objective, the summit of Democrat.  Jon seemed to be in really good shape and high spirits and led a quick pace up the trail.  We hit a few traffic jams on the way up but we reached the saddle relatively quickly and and summit not long after that.  We summited in a little over an hour and were rewarded with some spectacular views, including Clinton Peak and the Lewinsky Slot, where Jon and I skied on July 10th.

Clinton Peak and the Lewinsky Slot

Dave and I at the summit of Democrat, 14,148′

After a quick bite we bagan down the ascent route back to the saddle.  Shawn took off ahead towards Cameron and seemed to be climbing very strong for someone who pounded a 12 pack the night before!

We summited Cameron in what seemed like no time.  Cameron is an interesting “mountain”, with a broad flat top.  It seemed more like a grassless soccer field than a peak.  Either way, it was a cool place to take a break and some pictures before heading off to Lincoln.

Lincoln was a pretty cool peak with spectacular views of Wheeler Lake and Clinton Peak. Lincoln also had some cool couloirs dropping off the east side.  Perhaps some targets for next ski season?

After another short break on top of Lincoln we began hiking down the ridge towards our final objective, Bross.  According to the signs at the trailhead, the summit of Bross was closed.  However, there seemed to be droves of people heading towards the top, so we decided to follow.  Shortly after reaching the top we heard dirt bikes and ATVs approaching.  Everyone began running from the summit, us included.  I did manage to take a quick summit shot before heading down the mountain.  There was a great view of Lincoln’s east face, but other than that, Bross is an uninspiring peak.

Summit of Bross, 14,172′

The descent from Bross was steep and there was plent of scree to manage.  I think we all agreed our knees took a beating, another reason why I prefer to SKI down whenever possible.  We passed a bunch of VOC volunteers on the way down, doing a wonderful job of maintaining the trail so that thoussand can enjoy themselves safely.  We have tremendous respect for these individuals who volunteer their time to help so many.

All in all we made great time.  We arrived back at the trailhead at 12:10 giving us a roundtrip time of 4:40.  We were all feeling pretty good still and high-tailed it back to Idaho Springs where we downed 5 pitchers of Jackwhacker Wheat at Tommyknocker brewery.   Mmm, nothing like brews after 14ers.  Until next time!

Author: Collin Tilbe

I'm a Husband and a father. I love food, travel and fitness. My mission in life is "To be free to live life on my terms, while providing value and to kindness to others."

2 thoughts on “Decalibron Loop, Four 14ers on 7/31/2010

  1. I’m looking forward to doing this on Saturday!

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