Difficulty: Class 2
Mt. Democrat 14,148’
Mt. Cameron 14,050’
Mt. Lincoln 14,286’
Mt. Bross 14,172’
Total Elev. Gain: 3,700 feet
Roundtrip: 7.25 miles
Trailhead: Kite Lake at 12,000’
Climbers: Rick Crandall; Dianna and Rick Peckham; Laura Welch and Emme September 6, 2008
On Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008 an Aspen Times article announced that Emme, our Australian Terrier, was going to attempt four of the state’s peaks over 14,000’ as a fundraiser for the Animal Aspen Shelter and the Canine Health Foundation.
The adventure started by traveling from Aspen to Fairplay, Colorado, the previous day to start out early the next morning.
Fairplay is a jewel in Colorado — located in South Park at an elevation of 9,953 ft., population 610. It was once larger than nearby Breckenridge.
A key to Fairplay’s charm is the historic part of town consisting of relocated historic buildings from other western towns, that recreates the early days of the Colorado gold rush.
We arrived in town and checked into the Hand Hotel, a bed and breakfast which itself is teemed in the feeling of the Old West. Each room is decorated with a personality reminiscent of the people who settled in the Fairplay area.
The next morning we were up at 5:30 a.m., making sandwiches by 6 a.m. then off to the trailhead by 6:30 a.m. A short drive to Alma and a 6-mile dirt road took us to the trailhead at Kite Lake. The good news was no rain, no lightening and no hail — the bad news was the hike started at 7 a.m. in below freezing temperatures with high winds at upper elevations. We were well equipped with layered clothing, gloves and hats.
Rick C. and Laura, bundled up, layered and pushing against the wind.
This hike was all about Emme, our Australian Terrier who chose hiking over dog showing early in her life (al. For the past seven years Emme has been racking up vertical all over the popular trails surrounding Aspen. More recently, Emme has started bagging fourteeners (last year she did Yale Peak in the Collegiates) but this was to be four of them in one day.
Emme in the high winds.
First up was Mt. Democrat (but no sign of Obama), a 14,148-foot peak that is a slog through lots of loose scree. As we went up the first 1,000 feet in the cold, our highest priority was to get to the slowly lowering sun line to warm up. Once we did we then focused on summiting.
Peak #1 Summiting Mt. Democrat: Rick P. and Diana, Rick C., Emme and Laura
The route to Mt. Cameron as seen from Mt. Democrat.
From there the next objective, Mt. Cameron, had us descending about 700 feet to a saddle, before ascending to its peak at 14,050 feet. The winds were strong, particularly as we were on ridges and saddles.
Emme and her crew at the summit of Mt. Cameron, peak #2.
Then on to the most interesting of the four, Mt. Lincoln with its corkscrew path up a false peak and on to the real peak at 14,286 feet.
Here the wind was ferocious but we still were able to have some fun in the Class 2 rocks leading up to Lincoln.
Rick P. showing some bravado.
Summit #3: Mt Lincoln.
The final peak was Mt. Bross at 14,172 feet. I was starting to feel the length of the day and had already talked my legs into heading up-mountain three times. I wasn’t sure I was up for the fourth peak, but Emme looked game still. The pledges were based on her doing all the peaks, not me, sSo we tried to get her matched with the others in our group, but she just wouldn’t go on unless I did. Sooooo – that was a motivator and on we went.
On the way we passed a sign that said that part of the route was closed, but we were determined to get the fourth peak, so we went anyway.
Mt. Bross has two false peaks before the real summit which was a painful tease at the end of our day, but finally we were there.
Mt. Bross, the fourth summit.
The whole crew at the fourth summit of Mt. Bross
After a short celebration and a few cell phone calls (which often work from up that high) we began our descent. That’s when we figured out why Bross might have been closed — the descent was a steep downward ridge walk with lots of loose scree, probably added to by the record snowmelt after last winter.
The descent from Mt. Bross.
Don’t try this with sore knees, hips or ankles. I kept checking Emme’s paws to see if they were getting cut by the rocks – but she was in top shape, no signs of wear at all.
By mid-afternoon we were back at the trailhead, in our car and heading back to Aspen having had a great adventure and surely establishing Emme as a very improbable but successful fourteener and fundraiser.
Emme: Who says size matters? Thank you for sponsoring my adventure!
Emme Crandall bagged four fourteeners in one day, garnering over $16,000 in donations, of which half went to the Aspen Animal Shelter for the Spay Neuter Program and half went to benefit the Canine Health Foundation to study diseases in dogs.
Emme is an Australian Terrier, 7 ½ years old, weighs 20 lbs., leg height: 6”.
A full page article on Emme’s adventure and fund raising was published in the Aspen Times,
Click the article or here to see.