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.
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.
Up Up Up
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
Taking It In
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.
And – an extra album of memory photos!