Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  11/29/2010
Date Climbed:   11/27/2010
Author:  Mooney Pilot

 Snowy Quandary  

I had been wanting to get a taste of snow climbing, so the day after Thanksgiving my wife Beverly and I flew from my mother's home in Pampa, TX to Colorado Springs. My ultimate destination: Quandary Peak near Breckenridge. Unfortunately, there's not a lot to see between Pampa and Colorado Springs:

After nearly two hours, Pikes Peak comes into view. Here's a view from 30 miles southeast of the Springs:

And a view of Pikes during our final approach to Runway 17R at the Colorado Springs airport. (Photo by Bev; I was concentrating on landing.):

Before leaving Colorado Springs, we toured Garden of the Gods, a free city park. Here's the famous balancing rock:

On Saturday morning, it was a little chilly at the Quandary Peak trailhead when Bev dropped me off:

Walking in a winter wonderland, with Quandary in the distance:

Luckily, preceding hikers had created a trail that was, for the most part, solid bootpack. Although my pace was slower than in a summer climb, I had no particular trouble with the snow on my ascent:

Shortly after passing treeline, I looked back and had this spectacular view:

Above treeline, the trouble wasn't with the snow but with the wind. It was howling! I estimated the wind speed to be at least 30-40 miles per hour. It was a challenge to stand upright. I met several people who were descending; they said that closer to the summit, the wind was even fiercer. Ahead I could see others struggling on the final summit pitch. When I got past 13,000 feet, I decided that gaining Quandary's summit could wait for another day. My final view of the summit:

By the time I began my descent, the mid-day sun was starting to soften the snow. I would be walking along enjoying the scenery, step on a soft spot, and suddenly my leg would be in snow up to my butt. I now understand why it's called "postholing." Note to self: If you ever do another snow climb, bring snowshoes.

Speaking of snowshoes, it was interesting to note the variety of footwear that I saw on the mountain that day. Most people were simply wearing boots and gaiters like myself. But I also saw people wearing snowshoes, mini-spikes, and even cross-country skis. One guy who I talked to mentioned having crampons for the final summit pitch.

My first taste of snow climbing didn't deter me from maybe trying it again sometime. And although I didn't gain the summit, it was a exeptional adventure.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Pampa TX
11/30/2010 00:06
I'm from Pampa myself.

It Escapes Me

12/06/2010 01:36
How did we miss you? Terry and I left the TH about 5mins after 7. It didn't take long before I had to slow down to make sure I didn't sweat. I knew the wind would make me very cold if I did.
About 12500 I had to turn around because of some hot spots on my heel. Other than the wind it was a great day to be out.

Mooney Pilot

I Saw You
12/06/2010 15:01
When we pulled up to the trailhead I saw a couple of guys gearing up. Some of the footprints in my photos would be yours.

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