Sunday, December 29, 2013


I'd been feeling a little like the Grinch this Christmas season.  I am very close with my family and knowing that I would not be able to spend time with them was really getting me down.  Knowing that my wife had work the day of and would be leaving the house at 1pm didn't help.  I really didn't want to sit around the rest of the day by myself.  That was certainly a recipe for misery.  
Fortunately, a friend came through in a big way.  In true outdoorsman fashion, he told his family that if the weather on Christmas looked good, he wouldn't be able to spend the day with them.  They ended up hanging out on the 24th and a few destinations were proposed between us.  Decalibron was something we'd discussed in the summer to do in the winter, since options can shrink due to the amount of snow we have and corresponding avalanche conditions.  And it was chosen.
I woke up at 330, still early enough to see Santa dashing through the night sky.  After meeting up in Boulder, we headed down to Alma, Colorado.  We tried to get past the winter parking, but to no avail.  We set out around 7am, just as the sun was rising. 
Nearing Kite Lake.  The winter parking adds on an additional three miles each way, plus almost 1000 feet of gain. 
It was just a little windy.  We could see snow being blown off the higher points of the peaks around.  But it wasn't as windy as last week, and was more in the "it's making me colder" rather than the "I can't walk in a straight line or even stand up" vein.  The day proved to be so cold that once again I found myself taking photos only when we stopped for a break. 
We deviated from the standard route to avoid some possible avalanche areas, and then rejoined it a little higher. 
Here we are close to the saddle between Democrat and Cameron. 
Wind sculpted snow art.
The summit of Democrat was actually behind the false summit we'd been looking at on the way up.  It was so cold and windy we just hit the high point and turned right around. 
Looking over to Cameron, whose summit proved to be an unremarkable mound of rock.
From here we continued directly to Lincoln.
Quandary Peak as seen from Mount Lincoln.
I was feeling a bit gassed as we headed up to Cameron, and once we hit the high point, I was not looking forward to the loss and regain needed to summit Lincoln.  In reality, it proved to not be too bad at all.
Looking back to Cameron from the summit of Lincoln.
And over to Bross.
Yours truly on my highest peak of the year, Mount Lincoln at 14,286 feet.  Ironic that it should come so late in the season!  Photo courtesy Dan Regelson.
From here we headed over towards Bross.  The summit of Bross stands on private land, and it is well signed that you shouldn't go there.  Make your own decision.
As we descended the choss pile that is Bross, the weather warmed dramatically.  I was looking at the sun and trying to estimate the time.  I came up with 230 or so, and was shocked when it was only three when we got back to the car.  My estimate was way off!
A few hours drive got us back to Boulder.  From there we said our goodbyes and gave well wishes and I headed back to Longmont, thinking all the way...  
My Grinchy feelings had disappeared.  Thanks to a friend, I took a day that had the potential to be bad and made it memorable.  Christmas came.  It came without family!   It came without my wife!  And just like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes.  And that is a true example of the Christmas spirit.
How hard is Decalibron?  A different friend said it was the hardest thing she'd done thus far, in summer conditions, but she still managed it in under 7 hours.  I think the main difficulty here would be the amount of time spent at high altitude.  From the summer trail head, there is 'only' 7.5 miles to go and 3400 feet of gain, with the vast majority of that coming early to Democrat, and then from there to Cameron.  The maximum difficult is class two, and there isn't anything in the way of exposure.
Decalibron via Winter access:
13.5 miles round trip, 4380 feet of gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" - Dr. Seuss

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