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Quandary was hard!

Info, conditions and gear related to skiing or riding Colorado Peaks, including the 14ers! Ski/Ride Trip Reports

Quandary was hard!

Postby outdoorpanda80 » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:02 pm

I just skied my first winter fourteener; Quandary peak. I had read everywhere that this was the easiest one to do in winter and the most avalanche safe. I read trip reports and blogs with climb times usually around 5 hours. It took my partner and me over 8 hours!!!!! So, my question: is Quandary difficult or am I just REALLY out of shape?

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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby jimmtman » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:19 pm

Was your 8 hr time the combined up and then ski/walk down or just the up part?
I did Quandary about a month ago and since I hadn't been to 14k since last fall felt very slow above 13k. Time up was 3 hr 40 min
and time down was 2 hr 20 min for 6 hrs total.
It could have been that the conditions were tougher than normal.
Also you had extra weight of your skis and boots.

I met someone on Quandary who came up on skis in about an hr less than me. I told him that and he said "well it isn't a race". So good job getting out and getting to the top!


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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby kansas » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:27 pm

First of all, congratulations!

Don't sweat the pace. Winter is hard, skis and accompanying gear are heavy, and people who post times are generally pretty quick. Well done.
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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby dustysdad » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:34 am

Agree completely with Kansas post above. Times vary tremendously for the same person on the same peak. On a nice dry trail, a 14er ascent might take (just as an example) 2 hours up. Throw in wind, slippery trail, a little postholing, might be 3+ hours. Throw in major trailbreaking, postholing, extra weight for a winter ascent, you could easily be looking at 5 to 6+ hours for that same individual who could trot up in 2 hours in mid August. Times are relative for conditions and any successful ascent is an accomplishment; don't feel you gotta race. There's always somebody out there faster.

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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby peter303 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:38 am

Any 14er without a road to the top is a substantial hike.
But Quandry is among the easiest of the Colorado 14ers.

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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby Exiled Michigander » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:09 am

I've trekked up Quandary twice in snowshoes (only once in calendar winter). It does seem more challenging to me than other winter 14ers. I've had much easier times on Sherman, Elbert, Yale via Denny Creek, and even the east ridge route on Yale. I wonder if it's more of a mental than a physical thing. Quandary's east ridge is neither technically challenging nor all that interesting, so perhaps the tedium of trudging upward just wears you down more. Plus, that one false summit is quite disenheartening. Anyway, right with you on Quandary being harder than its reputation.

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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby centrifuge » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:56 pm

I think you should pat yourself on the back for climbing it, and returning to the car safely. When the word 'easy' is used in relation to a 14er hike or climb you really have to put it into context. The difficulty of every climb is a measure of a whole host of variables, many of which have nothing to do with the route itself. Then add in winter or early spring conditions, and you have to completely redifne things. Any 14er this time of year is a challenge. There is no such thing, imho, as an 'easy' 14er in early spring conditions.

Nearly every time I have climbed that mountain, it was a fun fast climb with no issues what so ever including a previous winter summit, then last November, when I climbed it with a couple of friends as a training climb it took me forever. It felt like it would never end. Had you asked me at that moment, it was one of the hardest mountains I had been on, because my mind was not in it, and the conditions sucked the will right out of me. Frankly, had it not been for Kelly and Shawn's positive attitudes that kept me moving forward, I would've given the mountain a polite f-off and headed back down. Thanks to my partner's awesomeness on that climb, I hit the top.

Also, keep in mind, there are plenty of threads on this forum about rescues happening on Quandary Peak, with a whole lot of speculation about the complicating factor that Quandary is viewed as an 'easy' mountain.
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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:08 pm

Well put

Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby livetothemax96 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:16 pm

I tried to ski Quandary with my friends during January Quandary. I didn't have AT gear then, so it was a case of putting my old, heavy race skis onto my pack and then booting up in my extremely heavy, but stable, racing boots. Not the smartest idea. My friend was in a similar position. We were on the trail for three hours after getting a late start and finally gave it up at the saddle, turned around and skied down. We went back later, without skis, and went up to the summit and back in about 6 hours during blizzard like conditions with mostly solid (windsweapt) snow. Congrats though on making the summit, Quandary is definately not the easiest (the one probably goes to Bierstadt or Sherman from what I've heard). Congrats though on making the summit! =D>
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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby catbus-x » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:23 am

I did again Quandary last March 24th. The wind was so bad that my thermometer read -18 F. The wind was close to 50mph. I remember saw 2 or 3 climbers going up over the tree-line, but I decided to turn back due to the winds. Then on my way down I sunk in the snow for almost 5 ft deep. It took my almost 5 minutes to get out and I lost my left snow-shoe there. So I hope if someone find it, I'll pay all cost for mail it back.
The climb took me just 1 hour 15 minutes, but on my way down, was over 3 hours due to the loss of my snow shoe :x

I'm pretty sure those climbers where in a black Cherokee, I got there (parking area) when they started to go up.

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Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby randomboulder » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:01 pm

Congrats on skiing your first 14er. In a couple weeks, I am hoping to also do it as my first ski ascent/descent. I wouldn't worry too much about your time, I'm coming from the midwest and I'm sure the altitude will give me a good butt kicking and slow me down.

Re: Quandary was hard!

Postby outdoorpanda80 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:17 pm

Thanks everyone for all the encouragement. I guess I shouldn't have expected to run up my first winter fourteener like it was nothing. I also was wearing downhill boots and using alpine Trekkers (HEAVY!!!). Plus my partner took time to fix blisters he obtained from his boots. But I don't want to make excuses. I will just need to train harder next time.


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