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Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Post Date:  08/15/2011
Date Climbed:   08/14/2011
Posted By:  docfrance


 Moonlight on Quandary     

Ever since we'd seen a setting moon upon arrival at Mt Sherman a month ago, we'd been targeting a full moon hike for this weekend. We chose Quandary because it has a very well-known and straight-forward trail with easy access and most of the trail is above treeline. It was also convenient to overnight lodging or camping areas that would support a large group doing the hike together.
The plan was to meet at the classic trailhead at 0230, make the climb in 2:30 and arrive with plenty of time to see the developing sunrise. We also hoped to catch the tail-end of the Perseid Meteor shower that was set to peak on Friday and Saturday nights.
Twelve of us got a few hours sleep at a house in Breckenridge, while the other six stayed elsewhere or drove up in the middle of the night. Two started earlier (0145) expecting to be taking a more deliberate pace. The plan worked well as everyone was there by 0235 and we started hiking at 0244.
When we arrived at the trailhead there were just a few cars and the temps were perfect--no lower than the mid-40s. Winds were light to non-existent at road level, but they built slowly as we climbed. We all started with flashlights or headlamps and quickly separated into a few groups. The lead group of eight kept up a fairly torrid pace while another pair turned back after only about a mile due to altitude sickness. Since it was a night climb, there really isn't much in the way of photos, though I did take a shot that I enhanced with some post-processing software that shows the occasional alto-cumulus clouds, some stars and the peak ahead of us. Notice the red flashlight used by the one group that was ahead of us on the trail. Image ImageYes, those white dots are stars and we're looking towards the moon.
Once we cleared the treeline at about 12,000', the headlamps and flashlights were all ditched. We cast amazingly sharp shadows in the moonlight and actually had to shield our eyes to see the trail when we were headed directly at the Moon. The sparse cloud actually made it seem even lighter due to the reflected light. Two in our group actually ran into some mountain goats on their ascent—much closer than they expected and were a little startled. Luckily, their lab was on-leash and there was no incident.
We summitted at 0457 in the original group of eight after passing our early-birds at about the 13,000' mark. the wind was strong but not overwhelming at the summit, so we all took a few minutes to add extra layers of clothing and put on gloves and beenies as we settled in for sunrise that would arrive in a little over an hour. The Perseid Shower was a bust as we only saw one or two small ones—definitely affected by a combination of the full Moon’s light and the scattered clouds to the north. We were also expecting an International Space Station flyby on our way up starting at 0443, but that, too, was obscured by clouds to the south (max elevation on the pass was only going to be 15 degrees anyway).
On the summit, two of us had oatmeal for breakfast--oatmeal stout, that is, while others huddled together and napped before sunrise.
We took a lot of pictures on the summit and enjoyed the sunrise and some of the better ones follow. Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image ImageThe flag being raised above is by our cadet from Rwanda. This is his second time up Quandary and we think he was claiming it for his homeland. He said he intends to rename it Mt Kigame.

We started down at 0640 and easily passed another 200-300 who were starting their hike to the summit. The lead group was down by 0830 and a little while later we were all on our way to breakfast. I highly suggest a moonlight hike if anyone else out there is considering it. The weekend of 10-11 Sep should be good—at least in terms of the Moon!
The rest of my pictures can be found here. The attached GPX file is incomplete as I started it about 15 minutes into the hike and the batteries died at the summit

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Chrissyj5

Sunrise     2011-08-17 18:58:04
Great photo's! We are planning to hike Quandary early tomorrow morning. What time approximatley did the sun rise?


docfrance


Sunrise     2011-08-22 08:37:37
It's too late to address the comment above, but you can go to any of a number of websites that give sun and moon rise and set times. for the Quandary summit, I'd suggest using Breckenridge CO as your site and then subtracting (earlier) about 5 minutes for altitude difference and clear view. Consider that ”civil twilight” usually begins about 40-60 mins before actual sunrise.



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