7.11.2004

Quandary Peak

The weather has finally been cooperative, so today I got to cross another peak off the list. Today’s adventure was Quandary Peak, the 13th highest in the state at 14,265 feet. It’s located about 10 miles south of Breckenridge, and dominates the view as you drive towards Hoosier Pass from the north. The US Forest Service and the Colorado Fourteener’s Initiative have recently been doing a lot of trail work, and have re-routed the lower half of the trail. The new trail is great, the lower sections are well defined and easy to walk, of course it is a peak climb, and so it has its steep sections. As you rise out of the forest, you begin to see the long and fairly gentle ridge to the west as well as views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. There are several lakes below to the south, and as you climb you can see several more to the north as well making for a beautiful valley below. The mountain itself is very singular, and the topographic map shows this, as the peak sort of stands out by itself on all four sides. Most other peaks in the area are part of a larger ridge, but somehow Quandary managed to keep itself just to the east of this ridge. This separation makes the views that much more spectacular both from this peak, and of it from the surrounding areas.

Anyway, back to the ridge. There are two parts, the lower section is the easier of the two, with a few steep sections on a good rocky trail, then it flattens out for a while to allow hikers to catch their breath. This is one of the distinguishing features of this peak, when you view it from the north or south, you see this sort of undulating ridge. After the flat section, the pitch increases as the final 1,000 feet to the summit climb covers only about ¾ of a mile, but it is over stable rocks on a pretty well defined trail. The summit itself is long and flat, but drops dramatically to the north and south, providing an excellent backdrop for summit pictures. This peak is considered one of the easiest fourteeners to climb, and one of the easiest to access as the trailhead is less than ¼ mile from a paved road, Colorado Rte 9. Due to these facts, it is also one of the most popular, and there must have been at least 2 dozen people, and probably 10 dogs on the summit hanging out, and this was at 10.30 in the morning! All in all, the 3 mile route took just under 2 ½ hours, gaining about 3,300 feet of altitude along the way. After a quick snack we descended the way we came up, passing several more climbers, and got back to the car just after 12.30 for a roundtrip of about 4 ½ hours. If anyone was interested in trying out a fourteener, I would definitely recommend this (relatively) gentle climb as a good “first”. So there you have it, 4 down, 49 to go…