| "There Are No Easy 14ers"
It has occurred to me that climbing all of Colorado's 14ers is going to require me to do more than fly to Colorado two or three times during the summer every year. If I'm going to climb them all, I'm going to have to do some winter climbs. So with my calendar cleared for the week I took some time off to take a stab at a winter climb of Quandary Peak, which is reputed to be one of the more winter-friendly of the 14ers.
When I arrived at the trailhead at daybreak I saw a sign that an Eagle Scout had erected as a scout project. In addition to various bits of information about Quandary Peak and the route, the sign contained the admonition "There Are No Easy 14ers". I strapped my brand new micro-spikes onto my winter boots, did one last gear check, and headed up the trail.
The first part of the hike (before treeline) was easy. There was a trench in the snow that previoius hikers had tramped down, and the footing was solid. With the grip provided by my micro-spikes, the hiking was actually easier than a summer hike. "This is cheating", I said, "to call this a winter hike."
Shortly before treeline I broke into a clearing and had my first view of Quandary's summit:
After passing treeline, much to my chagrin I noticed that the solid trench was gone. On my first step onto the trenchless (if that's a word) snow, I sank up to my bottom. On my second step I did the same. This was more like swimming than hiking.
Did I mention doing a gear check at the trailhead? That gear check did not include snowshoes, since I don't even own any snowshoes. Not much need for snowshoes in East Texas.
So, rather than trying to swim to Quandary's summit, I turned back. I considered driving into Breckenridge to buy some snowshoes and trying this again the next day. But I opted to go snow skiing instead.
Lessons learned: 1. Indeed there are no easy 14ers, especially during calendar winter. 2. An unsuccessful summit attempt beats a successful day at work.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):