Introduction/StatsObjective: Quandary Peak (14,265’) – CO Rank 13
Date Climbed: July 4, 2007
Route: East Ridge
Elevation Gain: 3450’
Total Distance: 6.75 miles
Participants: Jim & Karen Ohl, Kevin & Jenni Baker, Dennis & Melinda Morey, Tony & Renee Pace
We had originally planned this hike with Kevin for the beginning of May as Dennis & Melinda’s first 14er. However, when the time came, the snow conditions suggested we postpone this hike until the snow had melted out more…didn’t want Dennis & Melinda to get “cold feet” on their intro to 14ers – sorry, that was bad. The date was set for July 4th, and over time we decided to add in a visit to Coors Field for the Rockies game and fireworks after the hike. Jenni Baker opted to come out of 14er retirement for the occasion and joined us for her 10th summit. Meanwhile, Tony & Renee Pace, friends of Kevin & Jenni’s were out visiting from Kansas and eagerly joined the crew – this would turn out to be Renee’s first 14er summit as well! It was another wake-up and drive type of hike as we piled into the cars in zombie-like fashion, leaving Colorado Springs at 4:00am. Quandary Peak is any easy drive from the Springs and we were packed up and ready to hike by 6:20am. We must have picked a popular start time for Quandary as nearly a dozen cars arrived at the trailhead shortly after us. Jenni had brought small American flags for each of us to proudly display our patriotism along the way.
Quandary Peak Hike
I started out leading our conga line up the trail but, after tweaking both hamstrings in a softball game two nights prior, I quickly relegated myself to the caboose 50 yards up the trail...I may be in for a long day. The trail we took is relatively new, at least newer than my guidebook, as the previous trailhead has been closed for reclamation. This new trail was very pleasant as it winds through the forest on soft dirt (even more enjoyable for my knees on the way down) and is well-marked as it crosses a few old mining roads. Timberline came quickly for us on this hike as the trailhead starts at 10,850-ft. We were soon able to see up the valley to Blue Lakes and 13er Wheeler Mountain. We could also see the rest of our route ahead to the summit of Quandary as the entire east ridge became visible.
This was the largest group I had ever hiked with and I think we all enjoyed each others company and mingle along the way. The trail continued to be a perfect beginner 14er hike as it steepened slightly after timberline and then the ridge flattened out for a while to give us a break. The trail steepened for the final 1000’ vertical as we continued to ascend the ridge and the increasingly beautiful views were good motivation to keep pressing to the summit.
Just below the summit we came across a lingering snow patch that lead us the rest of the way as we topped out at 10am. We celebrated as 14er newbies Dennis, Melinda, and Renee summitted…way to go gang!
The views from the summit were terrific as several 14ers were visible around us and we could even see as far as the Maroon Bells to our west. We took a long break on the summit to enjoy the surrounding views and Kevin and I did a little exploring on the west ridge – definitely an interesting route to take!
After lunch and a few more photos we packed up and headed down, around 11:15am.
This was my first time trying out a pair of neoprene knee braces for the descent and they worked rather well. By this time the trail had turned into a virtual interstate, understandable for such an easily accessible and gentle 14er. Storm clouds were building by the time we reached the cars and we hoped that people who were just starting up would turn around. We were back in the cars and on the road home again by 2pm. Special congrats to Dennis, Melinda, and Renee!