14er TBT: Democrat (6 June 2006)

(Last Updated On: January 20, 2015)

This is part of an ongoing series re-telling Brittany’s fourteener-skiing story. Look for the reports every Thursday, as part of a Throwback Thursday theme.

Mount Democrat was my fifth fourteener to ski. I was joined by my friend Dave Bourassa. We skied the north side, which harbors some very worthy and fun ski lines.

We’d heard that Democrat was still holding snow, so we decided to check it out! Instead of going the traditional route starting from Kite Lake, we started and finished from Montomery Reservoir. Dave and I began hiking around 6:30 am from the 4-wheel drive road above Montomery Reservoir.

We started from just below a mine. Evidence of mining in this area is everywhere. We walked quite a ways on the road before setting eyes on Democrat.

And finally… Mt. Democrat is in sight! Lines look good!
The north side of Democrat, backcountry ski lines.

We hiked up the valley and then climbed the scree field to the lookers left that is hidden in the above photo. It took us about 1.5 hours to reach the scree field. The scree was very loose and difficult to manage at times. The approach from Kite Lake would certainly have been much easier! That’s what we get for not wanting to bring two cars πŸ™‚

Finally, we reached the ridge and the climbing was much easier from there.
Hiking the ridge on Democrat for some backcountry skiing.

Finally, the summit! We summited around 11:30.
Brittany Walker Konsella on summit of Democrat.

Arkansas is still holding an amazing amount of snow! That coolie is still very tempting.
Arkansas seen from Democrat.

Quandary… not so much. Look how melted out Cristo Couloir is!
Quandary seen from Democrat.

We could see La Plata and Elbert in the distance… one done, one more to go!
La Plata & Mount Elbert seen from Democrat.

Okay, let’s ski!!!!!!

Around noon we put on our skis for the reward. πŸ™‚ Dave drops in from the top.
Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat

Dave pretty much tears it up πŸ™‚
Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat

Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat.

I take my turn.
Brittany Walker Konsella backcountry skiing on Democrat.

Brittany Walker Konsella backcountry skiing on Democrat.

Brittany Walker Konsella backcountry skiing on Democrat

View of Dave skiing down. Look at all that lovely snow we can ski in the valley instead of walking! How nice!
Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat

But first, we have to navigate through this choke.
Choke on our line on Democrat.

Dave decided he didn’t want to billygoat through the first part and opted to take pics from the rock above instead of my attempts to navigate the choke.

See, you don’t REALLY need snow to ski on πŸ™‚ You should try it!
Brittany makes her way down the choke on Democrat.

Oh, oh, oh, OOOOOOOHHHHHH no! Ooops! Lost my balance in the last bit of billygoating!
Brittany loses her balance on Democrat.

My ski was stuck under very heavy snow, and a creek was basically running beside me. I couldn’t get my binding released in the precarious position I was in so iskibc had to come down and release my binding for me. Too funny πŸ™‚ I pretty much felt like a gaper.

Okay, let’s do this again…
Brittany Walker Konsella skiing the choke on Democrat.

Okay, ready????? I’m going for it!!!!
Brittany Walker backcountry skiing on Democrat.

Dave navigates through the second rocky section of the choke.
Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat.

His method is a bit unusual. Instead of going around the rocks, he uses them for jumps πŸ™‚ Who says you need snow to jump on skis????
Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat.

And he lands perfectly to arc a nice sweet turn!
Dave Bourassa backcountry skiing on Democrat.

After the choke, we cruised down to the valley and we were able to ski to about 11,500′. From there we walked down the 4-wheel drive road to our car and arrived there before 3 pm.

Here’s our line.
Backcountry ski line on Democrat.

Here’s where the fun of the day begins πŸ™‚ (No pics sorry). Before we went for our hike, we placed the cooler of beer underneath Dave’s truck in order to keep it in the shade. Well, in our tired state, we completely forgot about it. We wanted to grill the brats we brought and Dave decided to move his truck a bit more to the side so we had more room to grill. Well, you can imagine what happened next… he ran over the cooler of beer! Beer bottles/cans came popping out of the cooler. Oh no! Beer gone! All gone! But wait… Wait! The beer is still in the bottles, still in the cans. Not a single one broke! The cooler on the other hand… a purple mangled mess. The cooler definitely took one for the team. Go cooler!

Looking back, Mount Democrat remains as one of my more favorite fourteeners. There’s just a lot of different ski options, and the north side has some very worthy lines. At the same time, Mount Democrat also brews in my brain as having “scree fields from hell”. In my report, I mentioned the loose scree we dealt with. But, to be honest, it was miserable – two steps up, rock slide one step back – repeat. That was the way of it. Now, when I encounter scree like that, I find another route.

Note:A true decent from the summit was not completed on this ski. In April, 2011, I went back to ski Democrat from the summit. You can see this trip report here.


Like this report? See more of Brittany’s 14er skiing journey.

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate πŸ™‚ 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!