Democrat, North Face


This north face of the 14148-foot peak is a beauty! The photo above was taken June 2, 2007, and a comparison shows conditions almost identical -- little more snowy -- than May 30, 2005. On May 24, 2003, Bob Portmann and I skied the face. We approached via Platte Gulch which is long, but elegant as it avoids a nasty climb after one skies the route. Instead, we did the climb on the way up, to the Democrat-Cameron saddle (left of photo). We skied down from just west of the summit, but crossed to the east about a third of the way down to get into the line that had continuous snow to the bottom.

Update: On May 29, 2004, I skied this with Brian Montgomery, Bruce Edgerly, and Rich Cook. We left a car at Montgomery Reservoir and drove to Kite Lake. This is the way to do it (when the road is snow-free), as we summited in under two hours. The round-trip time was 4.5 hours. It was a cold day and a little firm for me to ski well, but there was plenty of snow. This time we started down at the same place as last time, but halfway down moved to skier's left to find continuous snow to the bottom. Left or right -- either is good. Just don't stay in the center. Choosing skier's right side gives the most skiing and the exit couloir at the bottom, not quite visible in the photos, generally works to reach the valley floor.

Second update: On May 28, 2005, five of us climbed Democrat and four (Portmann, Jonathan Kriegel, Chet Roe, Daymon Pascual) descended the face, which was in fine condition. I descended the south face back to the cars. There was more snow on the road, less snow on the climb (sneakers worked to very near the summit), and excellent snow coverage on the north and south faces. Despire the recent warmth, everything was quite firm this day. Route choice comment: Members of the party expressed the opinion that it would have been easier and much faster to climb back through the Democrat-Cameron saddle than trudge out to the reservoir. Perhaps.

Here are some photos from a solo day on Traver on June 2, 2007. First a closeup of the upper reaches of the face. This face needs a name. I suggest "Packer's Dinner" since a judge famously said top Alferd E Packer: "There were 11 Democrats in thie county, and you ate 3 of them.", or something close.


And one more view of one of the most beautiful ski runs anywhere.


On June 23, 2009, Elke Dratch and I climbed to the summit from Kite Lake in two hours and skied the standard face, but stopped short of the bottom to traverse east so as to catch the slope back up to the Cameron saddle. We had snow to the saddle, and then some skiing, some walking, back down. The lake was still frozen and I could ski across it right to the car. Five hours round trip. This is the way to do it. Here is Elke on the perfect corn we had for the descent.


Below is an unusual view of Democrat’s N Face from high on the W ridge of McNamee (April 10, 2011). One generally carries skis down from the summit to that little flat area of snow about 100 feet below the summit.


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