Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quandary Peak 1/14/2012

Total Mileage: 6.75 miles
Elevation gain: ~3500 feet
Party: Eric W., Kurt W., myself
Starting point: Quandary trailhead

Quandary Peak 14,265 feet. 

Eric had called me with a few days notice. He told me his dad was in town and they wanted to hike a 14er and they invited me to tag along. I suggested Quandary and we met at the trailhead around 6:30 am. It was his dad's first 14,000 foot peak.

It was a beautiful Saturday so the trailhead was crowded. Even in winter. Because of all the traffic this peak gets there was a nicely laid trench to follow all the way up. So route finding wasn't necessary at all. We kept a slow and steady pace nearly the entire way.

We began in the dark, led by headlamp. Before too long the sky began to light up and we could turn our lamps off.

I'm upset at the blurriness here. It was a very pretty morning.
This hike is pretty short and sweet. Maybe a mile and a half in the trees and we were at timberline. From there it's just the long east ridge that we follow to the tippy top. The wind picked up a bit once on the ridge and continued to increase as we ascended.

A look behind after emerging from the trees.

Looking south this is North Star Mountain 13,614 feet

Looking towards the goal Eric and Kurt ahead of me.

From this point on, it's just one foot in front of the other. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. The only downside was the wind that day. It really became quite frigid the higher we got. At the summit the fact that the sun was out seemed quite pointless. Removing gloves to take summit photos instantly froze my hands. Got a few summit shots and took a few for others as well.

About five feet below the summit offered sweet respite from the wind while we figured out who would take who's pics.

You can see the loose straps on my pack are perfectly parallel to the ground. Wind was intense.
I didn't bother to wait for my party. As soon as I was ready I bolted for lower ground and warmer temps. I got down a ways and shoved my hands down my pants to warm them up while I waited for my party to catch up. Once all appendages were warm we took a short break before heading the rest of the way to the car.

Eric (left) might be pooping here. 
It didn't take long before we had completely warmed up and were shedding layers as we descended further. There had to have been 40 people hiking the mountain that day. A very odd site to see in winter, even on Quandary. Quandary is a great mountain for beginners and I think Kurt had a great time. A few shots of the remaining descent:

Looking east on our descent off the ridge.

Parting shot of the mountain before it leaves our view.

In this close-up you can see hikers speckled on the ridge we were just on.

Last shot in the trees about 1 mile from the car. 
This was my first winter summit of the season and I had a great time with great company. We decided to head up to Breckenridge just 8 miles north for a bite to eat before making our respective trips back to Denver and Colorado Springs. My only regret was not bringing my balaclava. My face got pretty cold and I think that could have kept me a bit more comfortable during the colder times.


  1. not bringing the balaclava was your only regret? how about leaving your credit card at the pizza place? that was regrettable.

    1. Maybe I omitted that because I was embarrassed...