Home Sports & Leisure Colorado 14ers Quandary Peak

Quandary Peak, CO- Elevation 14,265'- 06/06/2003

My old roommate Norm just moved up here this week from Dallas and probably didn't know what he was getting into when I talked him into going on this 14er hike today. We had been hiking up here before when he came to visit, but that was around Boulder, a much different kind of hiking. Norm always talks about being adventurous and getting "out of your comfort zone" so I figured this would be a good adventure for him, kinda like the times he spontaneously talked me into bungee jumping, and rock climbing with him.

We hiked Quandary Peak from 10,800 ft at the Monte Cristo Trailhead in the first week of June. 5.4 miles round trip, 3370 elevation gain, normally a class 1 hike. Amazingly it was summertime weather in Denver but we got stuck in a snowstorm. This hike took us 10 hours round trip and we hiked back in the dark through the woods. Norm asked me if I was going to bring a flashlight and I kinda chuckled assuming we would never need that leaving as early as we did about 9am from the house, fortunately he brought his headlamp. I believe we started on the trail about noon and figured we have plenty of time, but didn't get back to the jeep until about 10pm. It was my second 14er and his first so we had a slow pace with many stops. What really messed us up is on the way back it was starting to get dark and we lost the trail at the treeline. Turns out there are several trails and we got confused as to which way we came. We ended up going the right direction but about a mile further down the dirt road we drove up. I heard the highway very close and figured we were down from the car. So we hiked up the road for at least half and hour which is only a mile drive from the highway. Finally we were starting to second guess ourselves and were lucky enough to get a ride from a local passing by in a pickup. It would have been another half mile walk in the dark if we hadn't got the ride. All in all that was a great adventurous hike, but from then on I always pack a headlamp.

Here is the look at Quandary Peak from Highway 9 near Breckenridge.

On way up Norm was all smiles, he says "look its not that bad, the peak is just right there"!

Getting ready for the final ascent, isn't the weather great!

Less than half and hour later a snowstorm rolls in, I guess that is better than a thunderstorm but not what we were expecting for June, and especially when it was in the 70's back in Denver just an hour and a half drive away. This is a picture of Norm fighting his way up the normally class I ridge, with this storm and snow it was more like class III. He told me to go on ahead and he'd meet me at the top. This was the first week he moved here from Dallas so he was struggling with the high altitude and cold.

I didn't tell Norm about the false summit because I didn't want to give his hopes up. It was only a couple hundred yards shy of the true summit once you get there and a relatively flat hike. Here he is just reaching the false summit, I took this picture from the true summit.

Norm finally made it to the top and I was quite impressed that he did it coming from sea level just a week ago.

A picture of me at the summit, unfortunately those aren't my skis, although I would have loved to ski down that slope. Maybe another time. Before we left the snowstorm was already starting to clear. It was really cold at the top and I would guesstimate in the 20's and probably close to zero degrees wind chill factor with the very strong winds.

On the way back I say that wasn't so bad was it?

Norm says, "are we back yet?"

We encountered these mountain goats on the way down.

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