|Kite Lake Trailhead |
Length: 7 miles
Difficulty: class 2
Elevation gain: 3,500 feet
The Decalibron is by far the easiest route in the state that allows you to collect four of the 59 fourteeners on the extended "59 List", and 3 of the 53 fourteeners on the standard list. In one big loop you can make a ring around this large cirque and collect Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross. Since the trailhead at Kite Lake is over 12,000 feet and can be reached by a passenger car, this four-summit tour is highly abridged and quite popular.
Though the technical difficulty on this climb never exceeds class 2, the amount of time you are above 13,000 feet is substantial as is your exposure to weather. At the deepest points of the route the fastest way off is to simply continue around the cirque. As we discovered on a 2010 attempt of this ridge when we climbed in 80 mph winds, getting caught in the wrong conditions can be an unpleasant and even dangerous proposition.
From Cameron descend gently south to the saddle and it is only a short ways to Lincoln, the tallest route of the group. Lincoln's summit cap involves a small amount of boulder hopping. When you are done with Lincoln descend back to the saddle between Lincoln and Cameron and traverse to Cameron's east side to avoid having to re-climb to the top. Continue aroun the cirque to Bross and make a decision.
The descent down Bross is steep and a bit gravelly at times, but very quickly you will be back down at your car.
In the center of Alma turn west (right if coming from Hoosier Pass, left if coming from Fairplay) off Highway 9 onto Kite Lake Rd. Follow this mostly smooth dirt road for 6 miles to Kite Lake. In some conditions lower clearance cars will sometimes park a few turns below the lake but I've seen sports cars come rolling into the parking lot before. There is limited camping available here.
Decalibron: How to Climb in a Hurricane- Eighty mile-per-hour winds and snowy conditions on the Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross loop.
Decalibron on 14ers.com
Decalibron on Summitpost.org
Colorado's Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs by Gerry Roach on Amazon.com- Better yet, buy this helpful and entertaining guidebook at your local gear shop or bookstore.
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