Since it’s the last day of winter – why not celebrate with a climb up Quandary Peak!

And since hiking and climbing is always better with a battle buddy, I needed a sucker… er… hiking partner.

Tom hasn’t learned that when I say "this is great, this will be fun!", sometimes fact-checking is in order. 6.75 miles doesn’t sound so bad if you don’t notice the 3,450 feet of elevation gain.

Quandary Peak is arguably Colorado’s most popular 14er due to it’s proximity to Denver, easily accessible trailhead, and super-easy Class 1 trail. In the summer it’s like a long line of ants marching up and down, luckily winter weather keeps a lot of those crowds away.

At 14,265 feet, Quandary is Colorado’s 13th highest peak.

A tropical 9 degrees for our 7am start, and we caught a beautiful sunrise through the trees as we started our ascent.

Quandary Sunrise

Quandary Sunrise
A beautiful sunrise below treeline along the Quandary Peak trail.


By the time we hit treeline, the temperature had probably dropped to around 0 due to the altitude gain, and the wind started to pick up. My rough guess was constant 20-30mph and gusts of 50+, which NOAA’s wind chill calculator website tells me is a chill of -20 to -30. Fun, when you have the proper gear!

One downside of the temps is that to take cell phone video, you have to pull your heavy glove off to push the buttons and your hand immediately freezes. Frostbite is no fun for anyone.


White Blast

White Blast
It’s a sea of moving snow.


Whiteout

Whiteout
This is what it looks like from 25 feet away when the big gusts hit. This is why high-visibility gear is a good idea.


No Joke


Arctic Blast

Arctic Blast
This wind is ridiculous.


One Foot

One Foot
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.


Up Up Up

Up Up Up to Quandary Peak
Finally hitting the real incline to the summit.


Despite the wind and temperatures, there were probably 20 other people on the mountain throughout the day, several backcountry skiers either skinning or carrying their skis/boards up, and other adventurous souls looking to bag a peak on the last day of winter.


The Last Ridge


The last push to the summit


Tom quickly learned that if you want the altitude, you have to have the attitude – and he powered through the long slog up for a triumphant fist pump at the summit. We enjoyed 20 minutes or so of downtime and expansive mountain views before turning around and heading back down.


Two Mitts Up

Two Mitts Up at Quandary Peak
Pretty sure that means happiness.


Peak View

Peak View
I’m pretty sure this is exactly what it looked like the last time I was up here!


Quandary Views

Quandary Views
The view up here is always incredible.


Rest Stop

Rest Stop
Our little spot out of most of the wind.


Last View

Last View
Taking one last view from the summit of Quandary Peak.


Puffies

Puffies
I look pretty stout with my fat puffy on.


Triumph

Triumph on Quandary Peak
You don’t conquer the mountain, you conquer yourself.


The Gulch

The Gulch from Quandary Peak
A gorgeous view up Monte Cristo Gulch.


Happiness

Happiness
That’s the smile of a man who doesn’t realize that there’s more suck to come!


Taking It In

Taking It In
Checking out Monte Cristo Gulch.


We managed to get in a few short glissades on the way down, tough because the sun was warming up the east ridge and softening up the snow, but the mantra for the return trip was "burger and beer", "burger and beer" and we immediately headed for FlipSide Burgers in Breckenridge to replenish some hard-earned calories.


Final Slide

Final Slide
One last glissade down below treeline to cap the hike off.


Glissade Fun


And – an extra album of memory photos!