After reading through big_red_pride's TR on Quandary, I decided I needed to give it a shot. Afterall, the snow didn't look that bad...
My mom decided Wednesday night that she was down to give it a shot (I agreed to carry everything to make it a tad bit easier on her), so we left Denver around 0530 Thursday morning. I chose to drive through South Park... good choice. According to the radio, there was a wreck around G-Town that had I-70 closed going westbound. We parked on the side of 850 and got to hiking right around 0825. I should mention that NOAA said it would be snowing all night, but there was only a 30% chance on Thursday, and the winds weren't predicted to be too terrible. Wind doesn't bother me too much, but my mom isn't a big fan, so I was hoping for the best, and there wasn't a breath of wind when we hit the trail. NOAA did get the snow report right, and we found about 10 inches of fresh snow at the TH... no worries, "we'll probably be able to ditch the snowshoes at the treeline"...
The scenery was beautiful, like something out of a postcard, with snow globs coating the pine trees... some much needed snow therapy after such a dry winter in town.
As we got up to about 12K, we realized that taking off the snowshoes wasn't going to be an option, and we trudged on through at least a foot of untouched powder. The weather cooperated, and we forged a trail up the ridge at an agonizingly slow pace. The snow was DEEP... even with snowshoes we were sinking in over a foot in places. I'm gonna use one of big_red_pride's pics (hope you don't mind) to show what a difference a big storm makes... BTW, big_red, what looks like the summit isn't really the summit, there is yet another hill and ridge to traverse before reaching the true summit, which really messes with the head. False peaks are the devil on an already tough trek.
big_red_pride's pic from about a week ago
about the same view of the deceptive "summit" yesterday, 03/29/2011
Long story short, with the weather so agreeable (thus far) and my choices of days to climb so limited, there was no way we were giving up. We traversed the final snow covered ridge ("Mom, just keep your head down and walk, don't look off the the sides and you're fine!"), and gained the summit at 1345... talk about a long 3 miles... wow. The wind kicked up and was pretty bone chilling at the summit, so we bypassed the beers and began our descent after about a 5 minute stay. I couldn't find the summit register... I suppose it was buried in snow, but I assure you we made it :-) Also, forgive me for misquoting the altitude in my video, not sure what I was thinking, but the GPS confirms, 14,265!! I know it's not technically winter, but I've never done a more winter-esque climb in my life.
Mom and me, victorious!
We made our way down, still in those stupid snowshoes... it's insane looking down and realizing how steep the east ridge really is, and more impressive when you get down to about 12K and can see your whole line to the summit, untouched by anyone else on that day... can't even describe it, but I'm sure it's a familiar feeling to many of you who have had a 14er to yourself in the winter/early spring snow.
This one looking up almost does justice to what we had accomplished...
Enjoy the pics, and if you're gonna go anytime soon, don't plan on a short day or not using snowshoes... 8.25 hours RT.
Super stoked for our summit, and super proud of my mom. Awesome time in the high country!!
A victory beer back at the car!
I'm still figuring out my GPS, but it definitely came in handy, espcially once we got down the trees and saw that a ton of people had been up snowshoeing or skiing around making it impossible to recognize which tracks were ours... I've read about people getting lost in the trees on Quandary, and wasn't trying to make the same mistake. I'll try to get that GPX file up later. I also threw in a few more pics below of scenery and such...
Here's the video, again, not sure why I was thinking we were 20 feet lower, sounds kinda dumb for those who know, but oh well...
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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