| Quandary - The Giant Spine Back
Peak: Quandary Peak (14265')
Date: Saturday, June 16, 2007
Team: krz2fer (Chris), ajkagy (Adam), Ryan (krz2fer's brother)
Route: Quandary TH, East Ridge
Roundtrip: ~7 miles
Our small group had been itching to get a 14er in this season already, but with sketch snow conditions and a lack of reports on the front range group, we stuck to a few reports that Quandary was doable without any type of snow gear. We decided to tackle this peak early Saturday.
Leaving Denver at 5:00am sharp, we met ajkagy along I-70 as he was coming from Boulder. We arrived at the TH behind about 10 cars that were already on their way. After a quick pee break and gearing up, it was out 7:15am and we were up the trail.
Approaching tree line:
Note to all hikers: don't eat fajitas at a Mexican restaurant you aren't familiar with the day before. While I did not have the "deuce, deuce" issue, I certainly had the S-B-D issue, which led my hiking parters to believe oxygen masks were needed for this journey. It wasn't that the air was super thin, it was actually quite thick! Getting up at 4:00am my body was obviously out of its routine. Not a good combo with a south-of-the-border influence all morning! Thanks for dealing with it fellas!
As we were getting closer to the ridge we had to cross a snow field or two. Gaiters would have been helpful as the snow was already very soft and post holes were occurring every few steps. There are sections that one could go off trail, but it involves a lot of scrambling over loose rock and we decided against it.
It was more fun and funny than anything. Usually a goofy situation involving snow on a warm day and farts would be funny to 3 guys, however. We met some nice folks, a couple, looking to get their first 14er completed at this spot. Really nice folks.
Our snack spot, looking towards the summit.
We didn't take too many photos (or any) on the final ridge ascent because we were focusing on landmarks to get us up. It felt a little bit like the Incline with the non-stop uphill battle. Once again, there were a few small snowfields to get through, but nothing that required gear. These areas were mostly packed as well.
When we approached the summit pitch there are two options -- (1) stay left on a rocky trail and head around the ridge and end up at the summit (boring), or (2) take a more direct route through the snow straight to the top, following others' steps. We decided it'd be more fun to kick step up through the snow and make a direct line for the summit. We didn't feel the angle or exposure was much of concern at this point. The snow made for quality kick step holes.
ajkagy approaching the summit:
We arrived at the snow covered summit at 10:00am. The register was under snow, so we decided to take a break and enjoy the views. There were only 5-6 people atop at that point, and we had wondered why there were so many cars.
As we ate and snapped photos literally 3-4 dogs and their owners came up. A few times we felt uneasy as these dogs wandered over to melting cornices to peer over. That wouldn't have been the best thing to see fail. Before we went back down another 10+ people came to the top as the trail was getting busy.
krz2fer, Ryan, ajkagy on the summit:
I had noticed a few spiders crawling around while I was snacking, and then Ryan came across another snow spider on the way down. Random:
The trail down was a bit more fun at first as the snow was soft enough to do a few mini glissades. ajkagy broke the paths while Ryan and I followed, easily stopping with heel kicks. A few people hiking up found this humorous, and something they definitely wanted to do on their trek down. The "snack couple" we had met earlier summited successfully and followed our glissade routes down as well. Good time by all.
On the way down clouds were all around, yet no thunder, but despite that we passed multiple people on the way up, ascending far too late. This is something I'll never quite understand on 14er trails. I can see it in many of these peoples' faces that they don't know what to expect or what they are getting into. Yikes!
Overall, it was a great day with a few toots along the path! We got back to the car about 12:20pm and were all tired from the stair stepper climb.. but surely satisfied. Congrats to ajkagy for his first 14er summit! Hopefully this is the first of many.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):