Quandary Peak

This past week was shit weather all across Colorado. Molly and I were planning on driving south towards the Sangre de Christo range, but decided to stay closer to home just in case we got rained out of an attempt. We picked Quandary Peak since it was a class 1 and if the weather did turn on us we could bail easily. We set off once I was out of class on Tuesday and made the gorgeous two hour drive into the mountains towards Breckenridge.

We slept in a tent right next to the trailhead tucked away in the pine forest. We woke up at 5:30 to the sound of rain pelting our tent so didn’t feel the need to rush and get ready to go. Eventually we did set out around 6:45 am with rain lightly falling in slushy form. As soon as the trail began to climb the rain turned thicker and snow began blanketing us.

The trail was incredibly well maintained and allowed for solid footing on the white path we were following. It didn’t take long for the snow to really build up and block any chance of views on our ascent. Within an hour of hiking we were entirely in white out conditions and getting colder and colder in our shorts.

Eventually we pulled over and put our base layer bottoms on when the wind picked up around 12,500′. Around 13,000′ we passed a woman on her way down that said she didn’t make it to the top and had gotten too cold to continue. A bit of anxiety rose up as we continued on, but we both felt confident in our gear and making it to the top.

We slowed down a lot around 13,750′ with the wind really knocking us and the lack of oxygen becoming more and more noticeable. The final push was more steep than the rest of the climb and we took our time lugging up the East side of the mountain. We final made it to the peak around 9:30, but didn’t stay for long. We took our summit picture and added on another layer and turned back down. Wind was blowing past our faces and every rock was completely covered with half a foot of snow.

The way back down was quick and easy. The hardest part was not getting too excited and slipping on the frozen rocks as we descended. We made it down as the snow continued to fall in about an hour. We past tons of people on our way down who decided to turn around or were curious if an attempt was safe. It was definitely unexpected weather.

Once we were back down the sky opened up and the air felt so much warmer. The biggest bummer is that as we packed up and started to drive away the sky really opened up and we could see the entire peak. Anyone up there was getting some killer views. It was cool to see the mountain covered in snow knowing we were just up there, but it would have been really cool to see the surrounding mountains like Lincoln, Democrat and Bross, but maybe next time.

This was good peak to climb in the shitty conditions we were given, but hopefully next week we will get down in the Sangre’s and knock out a few in that range!

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