| Quandary - Introduction to Peak Bagging
Quandary Peak – East Ridge (Standard)
- Group of four ladies and three gentlemen (four first timers)
- Left Boulder at 5:00 a.m. arrived at the Quandary trailhead (TH) at 7:00 a.m.
- 3.5 hours to summit; 40 min. on summit; Under two hours down; total time of six hours
- Overall Impression: If you are considering this as your first 14er, then I would definitely recommend it. With its close proximity to a major highway, this peak has a lot of activity, so I would recommend getting to the TH before 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday to find a decent parking spot. Also, if you are hiking this as a first 14er or with a group, I would suggest starting early because you are above treeline for the majority of the trek.
This trip report (TR) was composed for an audience of first timers. It provides a brief summary of our trip. Please, feel free to leave any questions or comments.
Our group of four ladies and three gentlemen left Boulder at 5:00 a.m., and headed just past Breckenridge to the Quandary Peak TH to do the standard east ridge route. It took us two hours, including a brief stop at the Conoco gas station, which is right after you drive through downtown Breck. (I recommend stopping here for a last bathroom break, because there are no restrooms at the Quandary Peak TH). We were able to obtain a close parking spot, about 30 feet above the start of the trail. If you arrive at the TH much later than 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, be prepared to add some mileage to the 6.75 roundtrip hike, because you will have to park quite a bit further away.
Over half of our group had never attempted a 14er before, so we decided to begin our ascent cautiously: taking it very slow at the beginning, drinking plenty of water, and incorporating frequent stops in with our conversational pace.
The beginning of the trail is a smooth incline, rock-free path, which even levels out in a few places. In several parts of the trail, below the treeline, it is often wide enough to walk two across, making it an enjoyable stroll with a friend at your side.
On the ascent, it rapidly becomes obvious that the trees enjoy the thicker oxygen of the lower altitudes; therefore, you need to take advantage of their cover for when "nature calls," because the luxury of their privacy will not be available for the majority of the trip.
A few feet under 12,000, you leave the trees behind, and quickly begin a steep section, with several rock stairs. Lucky for us, similar to the three wise men, we had a focal point, which appeared to be leading us to our destination.
The majority of the trip above treeline is a gradual incline, with relatively no switchbacks. The trail is very well maintained and easy to follow. If you have trouble finding the trail, you may be able to look ahead, and simply follow the myriad of fellow hikers in front of you.
It can be good or bad, but you can see the summit for most of the hike. It's good because you can see how far you have to go, but it's bad because you can see how far you have to go.
About the midway point, everyone seemed to be feeling pretty well, so we all decided to split up and everyone could continue on at their own pace. We promptly separated into three groups, and got in our own rhythm. In the last group, I was continuously encouraged by the pudgy-faced pikas, which would occasionally sneak up on you, squeak loudly, as if to let you know they were still watching you, then promptly scamper off to their next hiding spot where they waited to ambush you again.
We were also greeted by five mountain goats, which did not appear overly concerned that we were passing through as they were eating their morning breakfast.
After one final push to the summit, we reached the others waiting for us on the summit of Quandary Peak. It was a "bluebird" day, and we were able to enjoy the summit and have a great time relishing our accomplishment.
The decent was uneventful, and most of us were looking forward to the upcoming lunch in Breckenridge, so we made good time with relatively no stops. The final roundtrip time was about six hours (including the time spend on the summit). It was a perfect day. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday than enjoying the outdoor playground God has created for us with some friends.
Other Trip Reports
Pikes Peak: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=8319&parmpeak=Pikes+Peak&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include
*On a special side note, this was not our fifth 14er, but rather the 14er we did on our fifth wedding anniversary. What a great wife to join me in the mountains to celebrate five years of wedded bliss.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):