March 14, 1999 in South
March 14th, 1999, from the Meadow Creek Trailhead
Demming Mountain was my first winter trip to the Gore Range. Normally, the Gores, I’d imagine, are not a very hospitable place in winter. Even in summer, these peaks have poor access and many times have to be climbed in multiple days. Not only that, but these peaks are generally very steep. Demming Mountain is a little different because it’s in the southern section of a range. South of Red Buffalo Pass (near Eccles Pass) the peaks are much more gentle. This was still a long hike, about 14 miles, but the elevation gain is fairly steady and the peak is not steep at all. This was another hike with the CMC. I was kind of apprehensive because the description read “fast pace, no turtles please”. Well, the slowest member of the team was the leader himself! He said he was in the process of working off his newfound winter weight.
This weekend was absolutely fantastic. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky and it was quite warm with the sun continually blasting down on us. I knew I would have some sunburn when I got home even though I was using 50 block sunscreen. Anyway, we began hiking at the northern end of the I-70 Frisco exit. Normally, you can drive west on a dirt road for a mile or so but this road was covered in snow. Some fella from my home state of Georgia found out the hard way that he shouldn’t try driving his Geo through snow.
We began hiking around 7:30am, I think. We hiked down the road with the drone of the highway traffic then started heading north along the Meadow Creek Trail. After a mile or so, there was a marked turnoff to the right that led to Lily Pad Lake. We continued along Meadow Creek Trail for quite a way before getting a fantastic view of Lake Dillon and the surrounding peaks. We continued for another two or three miles in the forest before getting another view. I took this picture of Mount Guyot and Bald Mountain in the distance.
The trail was well-packed and we weren’t using our snowshoes. Eventually, the trees started thinning and we arrived at the end of the broken trail. From here on, we made our own trail winding through the trees. We tended to get to far to the right (north) on the slopes of the west ridge of Buffalo Mountain but when it was my turn, I turned us back down to the west and got us into the middle of the basin underneath Demming Mountain. We emerged out of the trees and had a perfect view of Demming Mountain .This view is looking roughly westward. Demming Mountain is the gentle peak on the far right. Our route was to head to Eccles Pass then head westward then southward over the ridge until we hit the summit.
As we swung northward into the basin, Eccles Pass came into view . From Eccles Pass, we had great views of the southern tip of the rugged Gore Peaks. Red Peak was directly in front of us and Buffalo Mountain lay eastward connected to the pass by a ridge. I was hoping to see “East Thorn” or at least the very tip of it but you cannot from here. I think you can see “Willow” from here but it’s hard to really tell. “Willow” (aka “Mount Silverthorne”) is the highpoint of the western ridge from “East Thorn”. At the pass, we took our first substantial break and ate. I finished up my ham sandwich pretty fast and took a panoramic view of the view northward from the pass. After the break, we headed westward up the ridge.
We were a little nervous about one section of the ridge. Right in the middle was a rock outcropping. It wasn’t steep but it was heavily mixed with snow. So that meant scrambling over it without our snowshoes on. I was all for this but another member wanted to bypass the rock and traverse underneath it on some very steep snow. It looked too steep for most of us though. We ended up taking this route and it turned out to be a good choice. This picture (left) shows us rounding the rock outcropping. From here, we swung near the top of the ridge and started heading south. From here, it was a simple but tiring slog to the summit.
Four of us arrived on the summit at first. The top was rather windy so I had to put on my jacket to break the wind. I spent most of my time taking pictures.
Here’s a picture of me on the top of Demming Mountain with the bulk of the Gore Range behind me. Beyond Red Buffalo Pass and northwestwardly, as seen in this picture, the terrain becomes very rugged and dramatic.
The summiters and the people who held back rendezvoused back at the saddle north of the mountain. From here we took the express route straight down the mountain. I had to take off my snowshoes because my ankles were really getting strained by the steep angle. Everyone else kept there snowshoes on. From the base of the mountain, we began our long slog back to the cars. It was very pleasant hiking back although I was quite tired. We enjoyed awesome views of the TenMile Range as we hiked out. Near the trailhead, I took this nice picture of Peak One.