Last December we had my staff's Christmas party at the Bucco de Peppo Italian restaurant in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Little did they know at the time that my wife and I were seriously considering selling my clinic and moving our family to Colorado. They gave me tickets to see my Cleveland Indians play the Baltimore "Borioles" in May. As a gag gift they gave me a pink fanny pack due to my distain for them and my promise that I would never wear one. They knew I was planning on climbing Mt. Rainier in July and they wanted me to take a summit picture with it on.
Our move to Colorado took place in June. I was very blessed to have two of my staff members from Maryland, Stacy and Emily, agree to spend a month in Colorado to help me get my new clinic started. I summited Rainier on July 12 with the ugly fanny pack in tow, but conveniently forgot to take a summit picture with it on.
When the three of us started our climb of Quandary Peak on July 25 Stacy and Emily asked me if I had brought the fanny pack as planned. I told them I forgot it, much to their chagrin. They were even more disappointed when I told them they should not bring their Starbucks cups with them. It reminded me that I was climbing with eastcoast rookies:) We started our climb at a new trailhead after discovering that the Monte Cristo trailhead was closed due to erosion. We made decent time up the West Ridge and found ourselves above treeline within an hour. It was the first time I had any significant activity since summiting Rainier two weeks before and I felt a little stiff. There were easily 200 people on the mountain that Sunday and many of them were with a youth group. The most amazing climber was a 5 year-old boy named "Ian." We passed him and his parents about 2/3 of the way to the top, thinking that he would soon tire and turn around. Stacy and Emily started to slow over the final summit ridge, but they were still strong. I arrived at the crowded summit about 10 minutes before them, but waited until they were close to the top. I let them go first and enjoy the moment. We made our obligatory cell phone calls and took our summit pictures. To their surprise I then pulled out the glorious pink fanny pack that was now on it's second 14'er summit. They were more than happy to take numerous pictures of me in various poses with the pink abomination on. I took off my Ohio State Buckeye hat so as not to dishonor the great state of Ohio. The final picture was of me acting to heave the disgusting thing over Quandary's ridge.
After our fun we were shocked to see a certain 5 year-old come over the final steps to the top! We all took pictures of Ian doing a Rocky pose. It was an honor to shake his hand. I wonder if he set a record for the youngest climber to summit Quandary. His father told me that he is already snow boarding black diamonds!
We made good time on our decent and I had to listen to Stacy bellyache all the next day at work about how much she hurt. Ah, the redemptive value of suffering!
Overall, Quandary is a great summer climb, especially for beginners. It was about 6 miles roundtrip due to the new trailhead, but well worth it, despite the extra burden of the infamous pink fanny pack.
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