The opportunity came up to climb Quandary Peak with a weather forecast of mostly sunny but blustery conditions. I placed an add on craiglist for a partner and got a call from Mark who lives on the way up to the mnts off I-70. We left Evergreen around 6.00am and drove through Breckenridge to the trailhead off Hoosier Pass. We were witness to an insane sunrise with Quandary lit up. I took this as a good omen as I was a little disappointed at the amount of snow on the ground. In previous weeks I was able to climb other peaks with the snow blasted off the ridges by the wind which makes for easier going. The east route of Quandary is in the lee of the prevailing west wind so there was a lot of snow on the route. Mark snowshoed in while I walked behind. The east face is a popular area for back country skiers/boarders so the trail was some what packed down from the day before. I thought once we got above timberline we would find at least packed snow to hike on but we had to plod along on a combo of packed and loose snow which is really hard going because you cant get any momentum when you have to shift gears every 50ft. Most guide books rate Quandary as EASY. Even in the summer this must be a task as the altitude gain is about 3,ooo ft over 3 miles. The weather was perfect and layers were peeled off pretty quickly often requiring no gloves or head gear. The wind was almost non existent with only a few gusts. I am in pretty good shape but as we ascended I began to realize this was going to be a big day. I sometimes wonder where the energy comes from to keep going. At about 13,000ft we could see how far the summit was ahead and realised we would be hiking in snow almost the whole way.
At this point I was pretty beat but Mark said we cant quit now so we continued on. It is a fairly safe route even in the snow as the ridge doesn't drop off too steep either side but its quite intimidating as it seems too climb up for ever and you cant see the top. We got to the summit, took a few photos and the reality set in the sun was getting lower in the sky and we had a long way to go down. The decent was very long but the views are pretty good. This is not a place I would like to be in failing light and strong wind. Although you can see houses and roads down below you may as well be on the moon. My advice to anyone who wants to climb 14ers in Colorado is don't buy into the THAT ONE IS EASY etc etc. The reality is none of them are easy and in winter the effort and time needed to climb can double...
No comments posted yet.