| Sunrise on Quandary
First report, 8th 14er, maybe I'll get around to writing the more interesting ones soon. But this was my first solo ascent, so I thought I might write a TR on it.
I was originally planning on doing the West Ridge with my roommate, but he bailed out on me when I got home from work at 11 pm. And despite the fact I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep the two previous nights, I was oddly awake. It crossed my mind to attempt a sunrise trip, but obviously I couldn't head up the West Ridge solo in the dark. So as midnight and 1 am crept up, and I still wasn't tired, I started getting things ready, ate a sandwich, filled up with gas, and left for Quandary's East Ridge at 2:45 am.
I figured I wouldn't make the summit by sunrise, but was hoping to be high enough to have little to no obstructions for the crack of dawn. It was quite dark, and the stars were amazing. In fact, as I was heading down I70 just past Eisenhower, I saw the brightest shooting star I've ever seen. It was so bright and prominent that it actually startled me. I arrived at the trailhead, double checked all my gear/food, and started up the trail at 4:30.
I had hiked in the dark before, but both times were with other people. It was rather unnerving at times when I was solo. I was certain every odd noise my pack would make must have been some animal just watching me. My Nalgene made a distinct sound at least three times, and every time I heard it, I jumped. But other than being a little paranoid, hiking in the dark is nice. It is cool, the going is quick, and you (mostly) don't have to worry about running into other people.
Nonetheless, when the sky began showing signs of day, I felt re-energized.
Knowing I wasn't going to make it to the summit early enough, I slowed my pace and appreciated the beauty all around. My camera sucks, so it lacks the ability to capture stars, so I just focused on the upcoming light.
Sun coming over Grays and Torreys
The dam and reservoir
The sky to the West had an almost rainbow appearance across the horizon, however, pictures don't do justice.
Wait for it...
There it is
I took a lot of pictures of the sun, almost as good as an eclipse.
A rather orange morning
Just about 13,200, when it gets steeper, my legs and knees were telling me that I hadn't slept in 24 hours. I took my time from there, and tried to keep up a steady pace without breaking. Thirty minutes later I was at the summit.
This one looks a little beat up. Do you think you could put up another one, Bill?
Multiple USGS benchmarks
After my first time skiing at Copper, this quickly became my favorite ridge in Colorado. Maybe someday I'll climb it.
A close-up of the Elks (bad quality). Snowmass immediately stands out.
After my photo op on the summit, I ate a sandwich, drank some water, and listened to some music. As suggested by lordhelmut, I listened to some Enya on the summit. However, I found John Denver a lot more relaxing. The instrumental theme to Lord of the Rings was also great. I stayed on the summit for about 40 minutes, then headed back down. I didn't see a soul other than this guy for about thirty minutes.
He felt the need to be relaxing in the middle of the trail, while I was concentrating on my feet as I half ran/slid down the mountain. I probably would have run into him if his brother hadn't jumped up when I was about 20 feet away. So, I just slowly walked around the trail, and he just relaxed.
Saw thirty or forty people after that.
Trailhead to summit: 2:00
Summit: 40 minutes
Summit to trailhead: 1:15
I stopped twice on the way home, at Bakerville and Idaho Springs, and slept over an hour at each place. It took me longer to get home than it did to get up and down the mountain
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):