Decalibron Standard Route Guide
The Decalibron consists of four 14ers: Mt Democrat, Mt Cameron, Mt Lincoln and Mt Bross. It’s the one spot in Colorado you can climb four 14ers in a single day, if conditions and luck allows. Here’s my Decalibron Standard Route Guide with everything you need to know to safely and successfully summit these peaks.
Decalibron Fast Facts
Decalibron Standard Route Guide
Start your trip at the Kite Lake trailhead – it’s a rocky road but most 2WD vehicles can make it (I once managed it in a prius!). Head north along the lake, towards the Democrat-Cameron saddle. You’ll climb a series of moraines up to the saddle, passing several historic mining structures on the way. These are dangerous ruins, so enjoy them from the trail to stay safe.
Park at the Kite Lake Trailhead and head north along the lake’s shoreline. You’ll take a hard left before you head into a more rugged section of switchbacks. Your aim is the saddle between Mount Democrat to your left, and Mount Cameron to the right. Pass by a small prospector’s hole just before reaching the saddle.
Pause to catch your breath if you need to, before turning left to ascend Democrat’s north slope. The trail here is rugged, switchbacking up the mountain through boulders and rocks. Take your time and mind your step. Be wary of a false summit here, as you still have a short bit to go beyond what looks like the summit.
Once you’ve tagged Mt Democrat you can turn your attention to Cameron and Lincoln. Head down to the saddle the same way you ascended, and head up the ridge towards Mt Cameron. There may be snow and a cornice if you are hiking early in the year. Cameron has a very broad, flat summit, and can get extremely windy.
Here you can see the route from Cameron on to the top of Mt Lincoln. This is a more rugged peak, with a little scrambling required to reach the summit. From the top, look north for a gorgeous view of Quandary Peak. Head back towards Mt Cameron before turning left to bypass its summit. Head towards the Cameron-Bross Summit.
Mt Bross is your last remaining peak, but it lies on private property. If you choose to summit it, you can make a diversion from the trail below it, or just take the ridge proper the entire way up. There’s a small rock wall at the top for getting out of the wind, if need be.
The path down Mt Bross is notorious for its steep profile and slippery, loose scree (pebbles and small rocks). When hiking down, they come loose repeatedly and act like marbles. Some people advocate climbing this section first, and descending from Democrat, to mitigate the issue. You can make the choice – just follow this route guide in reverse.
Along the route down, you’ll eventually take a sharp left to move across a gully, before continuing straight down its side. Be careful you don’t cross too early and get into more difficult terrain. If you need more information, check out the route guide on 14ers.com and summitpost.com. I hope you enjoyed my Decalibron Standard Route Guide!
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Enjoy This Post? Join The Next Summit Newsletter to get advice, news & stories!
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.