TR: Mount Democrat (11 Apr 2011)

(Last Updated On: April 24, 2011)

Ever since I skied Mount Democrat with my friend Dave Bourassa in June of 2006, I have known I wanted to go back. Since I hit the line fairly late in the year, I ended up downclimbing from the summit to the north face. While it was an awesome line and a fun ski with a great friend, I still didn’t feel like it was 100% legit because I downclimbed from the summit.

People have and will continue to debate this matter. What makes a true summit ski? Everyone will have a different answer. But, my answer is simple. It’s about how I feel about it. If many others have done better, I don’t feel that it’s a legit descent. I called my June, 2006 descent a success, but I always claimed it with an asterisk. I needed to go back. Well, this month I finally did.

Originally I was hoping to ski the north face again. But, weather was shaping up unfavorably. A storm was rolling in on Saturday and Sunday. Our plans were to ski Monday and I didn’t feel that the north face was going to be safe after the storm. So, our plans were to stick to the south side. Our friends at AE Films had actually scoped out the route on Saturday and knew exactly where they wanted to film us.

Sometimes I hope the weather forecasters are wrong. Let’s face it, 50% of the time they are. This day, I hoped they were right as we drove through blizzard conditions on I-70. As we crossed over Hoosier Pass, the clouds began to fade, and those that were remaining flew with an angry fury along the mountainsides.

Frank and I met up with Keith and Trent from AE Films, and our friend Brennan Metzler. Temperatures were very cold and the winds howled at us as we through on our ski gear. Part of me wanted to just turn the car around and drive back to Denver. Bed sounded so nice after suffering an entire night of insomnia.

But, off we went anyway, skinning up the road toward Kite Lake.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

First views of Democrat.
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The winds didn’t stop. Our faces were frosted and we were miserable. We skinned with every bit of clothing we had in our packs.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

But, sometimes the wind was also beautiful.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

Still, the wind raged with the fury of an angry monster. It wore on us and we grew tired from fighting the unneeded battle against the wind. It was here where Brennan and I paused, ahead of the rest of our group. “What do you think Brennan? Is this a good idea? Is this safe?”, I asked. “I don’t know. But I do know the storm has cleared and I think this is the aftermath of the storm. I think it will calm down.” I have Brennan to thank- for I was about to stop everyone and tell them to turn around.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

And, as we passed Kite Lake, the winds calmed, and we found ourselves stripping layer after layer. Brennan had been right 🙂

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

Frank, with the valley below.
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Brennan was our radio man, talking to the film crew staging at Emma Lake.
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And the hike continued.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

And finally, the summit! Brennan.
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As we waited for Frank, Brennan shoveled snow so he could enjoy a summit descent himself. “It’s harder to billygoat on my snowboard,” he said.
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I, however, admired the wonderful views. Arkansas, another one on my list.
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Quandary, the “dark side”. Looks sick, eh?
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The Elks.
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La Plata.
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Elbert.
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Frank, nearing the summit.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

I got my summit ski.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

We hoped for pow, but we got windswept strastrugi. Brennan dropped in first.
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But, our efforts were quickly rewarded with creamy goodness. Frank.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler


Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler


Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

Brennan. He’s under there somewhere 🙂
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Me.

Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler


Photo courtesy of Brennan Metzler

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I couldn’t stop smiling. Who can after skiing fourteener pow? Thanks to the AE Film crew for all their hard efforts, to Frank for braving the wind-war despite his horrid cold, to Brennan for his constant contagious positive mindset, and to the weatherman- for actually being right for a change 🙂

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Latest posts by Brittany Walker Konsella (see all)

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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