I took a group of interns from my work on a hike up Mount Democrat. I chose the route because it was a very easy 14er. Before we left I checked trip reports and warned them that there would be a lot of snow and good footwear would be essential. The trip did indeed turn out to be more of an experience for them then I expected. In fact at the steepest part I had to cut steps in the slope so they could continue. Not something people usually have to do in June on Mount Democrat. In the end 9 of the 12 I took made the summit and we all got some great glissades in, so overall a fun trip.
Due to snow we had to stop 3/4 of a mile before the trailhead. (photo taken later in the day) From the looks of it I'd say at least two more weeks until the road is open all the way.
Since we had to hike to the restrooms, we took our first pit stop of the day there.
We were on the actual trail very little due to the snow, this made the trip significantly harder for everyone as we were postholing some and dealing with traction problems (mostly due to poor footwear, but it's not like people from Louisianna have good mountaineering boots).
The steepest section just when the trail turns west towards the saddle was the most challenging part. It was here that I had to cut steps to make it passable for the rest of the group (no crampons or micro-spikes). Kind of a cool experience for them to ascend such a slope and good practice for me cutting steps.
After that we were in the sun and the trail got easier though still had some snow crossings. Here we dropped 3 hikers who decided they'd had enough for the day.
Progress was slow, but the mountain views provided plenty of distraction.
The trail normally ascends some switchbacks up the northeast face of Democrat, however it was completely buried in snow so we just stuck to the ridge after the saddle. This also made the trip a little more interesting.
The summit was not as busy as it usually is in June. I think the snow is keeping some of the traffic down. For it being the first time above 7,000 feet for most of our group things went well. I believe that got an experience they won't ever forget.
The air was nice and clear for some great views of the distant peaks. The Elk Mountains looked especially majestic.
It appeared that the rest of the route to do Lincoln and Bross was pretty clear, however it had already take our group 7 hours to do Democrat, so we just didn't have the time left in the day or the energy to finish out the loop.
After descending the ridge we got in some nice glissades. The first was around 100 yards and a lot of fun. The snow conditions were perfect to keep it under control, but still get a nice slide in.
The second glissade was down the steep section I had cut steps in earlier in the day. Amazing how much the snow can change with just a couple hours of sunlight.
Our third glissade took us down into Kite Lake basin, not as steep or long but still fun.
The last part of the hike had lots of tiring post-holing but the glissading had lifted everyone's spirits enough that it didn't seem too bad.
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