One peak or four?
Five Colorado peaks higher than 14,000 feet are located in the Mesquito Range south of Breckenridge: Mounts Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross, and Sherman. Except for Mount Sherman, the remaining four can be reached from the Kite Lake Trailhead which is a few miles west of the small town of Alma. Alma is located about 12 miles south of Breckenridge and 6 miles north of Fairplay on Colorado 9. The road from Alma to Kite Lake (CR 8) is about 6 miles, and passes some interesting historic and current mining operations along the way. The trailhead is easily reached with a high clearance vehicle and several sedans were parked along the road just short of the trailhead the day we were there. Kite Lake Trailhead is a fee area ($3.00/day), but various pass holders get a reduction. You can avoid the fee by parking about 200 yards short of the parking lot.
There is some question about whether Cameron is a 14er, because of its topographic prominence (at least 300 feet above the nearest saddle), but it is listed on 14ers.com, which is good enough for me. These four peaks are heavily frequented by hikers of all sorts. Mount Democrat, at about 2500 feet accumulated ascent, has the reputation of being easy. So, expect lots of people on weekdays and hoards of people (including some casual and ill-prepared hikers) on weekends. If you want solitude, bypass Democrat and go on to Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross, which most people avoid.
The proximity of these four peaks to one another invites one to do them all in one day, and many fit people in fact do just that. This involves a clockwise loop from Kite Lake Trailhead to Democrat, then Cameron, Lincoln, back to Cameron, then Bross. Unfortunately, legal access to the summit of Bross is in question, as the big sign near the trailhead indicates. However, there is a Bross summit bypass, and many people ignore the sign and summit anyway. Beware that the descent from Bross back to Kite Lake is very steep.
What we did was summit Democrat, then retreat to the saddle between Democrat and Cameron. There, several of our group chose to head down, but four of us also climbed Cameron and then returned to Kite Lake for an accumulated gain of 3800 feet. Part of the reason we chose to avoid Lincoln and Bross was the horrendous wind near and at the top of Cameron.
Despite its reputation of being easy, the climb to Democrat involves crossing (due to lingering snowfields and re-routing) a substantial stretch of loose boulders and scree. You have to watch for climbers above you who may kick loose boulders. The loose rock is not to be taken lightly.
There are fantastic views in every direction from the top of each peak. Quandary Peak is visible to the north. The valley south of Fairplay can be seen to the south, and Hoosier Pass on the road down from Breckenridge can be seen to the east from Cameron. This is an excellent opportunity to bag several 14ers in one day, if your body (and mind) is up to it.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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