Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  03/13/2012
Date Climbed:   03/08/2012
Author:  Mooney Pilot

 "There Are No Easy 14ers"  

It has occurred to me that climbing all of Colorado's 14ers is going to require me to do more than fly to Colorado two or three times during the summer every year. If I'm going to climb them all, I'm going to have to do some winter climbs. So with my calendar cleared for the week I took some time off to take a stab at a winter climb of Quandary Peak, which is reputed to be one of the more winter-friendly of the 14ers.

When I arrived at the trailhead at daybreak I saw a sign that an Eagle Scout had erected as a scout project. In addition to various bits of information about Quandary Peak and the route, the sign contained the admonition "There Are No Easy 14ers". I strapped my brand new micro-spikes onto my winter boots, did one last gear check, and headed up the trail.

The first part of the hike (before treeline) was easy. There was a trench in the snow that previoius hikers had tramped down, and the footing was solid. With the grip provided by my micro-spikes, the hiking was actually easier than a summer hike. "This is cheating", I said, "to call this a winter hike."

Shortly before treeline I broke into a clearing and had my first view of Quandary's summit:

After passing treeline, much to my chagrin I noticed that the solid trench was gone. On my first step onto the trenchless (if that's a word) snow, I sank up to my bottom. On my second step I did the same. This was more like swimming than hiking.

Did I mention doing a gear check at the trailhead? That gear check did not include snowshoes, since I don't even own any snowshoes. Not much need for snowshoes in East Texas.

So, rather than trying to swim to Quandary's summit, I turned back. I considered driving into Breckenridge to buy some snowshoes and trying this again the next day. But I opted to go snow skiing instead.

Lessons learned: 1. Indeed there are no easy 14ers, especially during calendar winter. 2. An unsuccessful summit attempt beats a successful day at work.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Lesson #2
03/13/2012 18:44
I love your lesson learned #2. Well said, and good advice on those days when a summit is just not reasonable.


What's The Rush?
03/13/2012 21:10
So why can't you bag a few more at a time during the summer? This old man (57) tries to bag 4 or 5 a year, and now only have a few left. It almost makes me wish it wouldn't end, though, as I would like to continue as long as I'm able.
And I don't own snowshoes, either.

Mooney Pilot

No Big Rush
03/13/2012 22:42
At age 61 and traveling from near sea level, I'm doing good to climb one 14er per trip. I've climbed 11 so far, and would like to finish before turning 80. You don't see too many 80-year-olds on the trails. But, still, no big rush. I'm enjoying the journey. And it would be sort of neat to hold the record for being the oldest finisher.


No such thing
03/13/2012 22:27
as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing/equipment


03/14/2012 03:03
In your last picture, you cannot see the summit. It is further back and is quite a bummer when you get there only to see the top still far away.

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