So, Coming from Chicago to Colorado to climb Mount Bierstadt and Quandary Peak in one weekend with out time the acclimate to the altitude was a tall order. The odds were against us. I flew in ahead of everyone(George,Andy,Jim,and Jason) because I like to fly in the morning. Everyone else flew in later that afternoon/night and because I was the early one I had to pick up the rental car. These people that work there are worse than used car salesmen! This guy tried his hardest to get me to upgrade and get this and that for more money. I get out of the rental lot without spending extra and pickup some group gear like water and white gas because it was easier to buy it there, than to fly in with it. Next I pickup the rest of the group at the airport and we're off!
The drive to Burning Bear campsiteDriving down I-70 was great! I had a good feeling about the trip and there was no traffic. What more could you ask for? We had stopped to get some beer and one of the guys in the group needed to eat. We dropped off andy at subway to eat and the rest of us went to a grocery store next to the subway. This is were I will first hear of 2-3 beer. What kind of sick joke is that. Well, we find a liquor store near by and get what we need and we're back on the road.
We get to the Georgetown exit and start heading up Guanella Pass road. As we drive up we find that the pass is closed due to falling rock and construction. This small setback is going to really mess things up. So, driving back down and onto I-70 again trying to find another way around at night took several hours. While driving through the town of Dillon and not paying attention to my speed while me and george(the mastermind behind the trip) are trying find the way to the south side of Guanelle Pass I get pulled over for speeding. The cop gives me a $145 ticket for 10 mph over the speed limit. Wow!! I was not expecting the ticket to be that much. As we drive on finding our way through the front range we try checking out an alternate camp ground some were on highway 9 outside of Breckenridge. Driving down this snow covered road we find out the camp ground is closed for the winter and start back the same way we came. While I was turning around I get the truck stuck in the snow. It's now 12:00 at night the truck is stuck and we're two and a half hours from the camp ground.
Everyone helps out digging and pushing the truck out of the snow and in about 15 mins. we're back on the road. We give up trying to find any other campsite along the way and just drive to the southend of Guanella Pass road. We arrive shortly after 2:00am and pick the Whiteside campsite instead of Burning Bear because of the time. We setup camp and jump in our bags for the night around 2:45-3:00am. We wake up around 7:00am for breakfast.
After breakfast we head up to the trailhead at Guanella Pass. We had to stop about 2 miles I think before the pass because the road was not plowed. We ran into a group of women going the same way. I think to myself. Great we are about to get smoked way these girls and we are going to look like a bunch of sissies. It was a nice hike up to the pass I opted to not put my snowshoes on till the pass. Once at the pass we started down toward the willows with snowshoes. I'm going to be very honest. I hated this part of the hike the most. I should have put my 8" tails on my snowshoes because was knee deep for good a portion of the way through the willows. I now know why the willows are so famous. I think I was on a half tank of gas after the willows for the rest of the climb.(not good) Now I had to make up for lost time in the willows.(another bad thing to do) I slowly make may way onto the west slope. While I was having my fun in the willows the girls passed me up like a high speed freight train. They most likely laughed and joked about me. After meeting up with everyone in the group for lunch we continue up. George, Andy, and Jason start out ahead while Jim and I move a bit slower. After reaching the top of the west shoulder I find that I'm not going to make it to the summit. I didn't have the time to continue or the energy. I still remember the willows and will never forget them either. I tell Jim I can't go any further and he waits with me till George, Andy, and Jason come down from the summit. Which is not a long wait. I think we were about 400 feet short of the summit. I was tired and felt good but I had a feeling that I mite have to use a wag bag. So, some were around 12,000 feet I had to take a dump. Now I really felt satisfied with a bag full of $#!% in my pack for the way down.
the way back to the truck
We crossed the willows again and slowly made our way up to the pass. The only thing I really want to remember about this part over the trip is get back to the truck. After turning back late we make it to the pass just after sunset. Wow!!! I feel like dropping dead but, we continue on the 2 miles to the truck for some much needed water and snacks. The drive back to came was great being able to sit in a seat but, wait the adventure is not over yet. We chose to drive in to town for pizza or burgers because boiling water doesn't sound as good as pizza or burgers. It's 9:00 pm when we get down to highway 285 and everything in every town we drive through is closed for the night. Now boiling water sounds good. At 10:30 we get back and have dinner. We get to bed and wake up the next morning to snow. Quandary Peak will have to wait till next time we're in Colorado.