Just as the Spring/Summer season starts, we usually attempt a fourteener early. Too early you might say. Last year, it was Huron, which turned out to be a real monster with all the snow. It takes a long time for all the snow to melt in the mountains, you see.
This year, it was Quandary Peak (14,265′), which is located very close to Breckenridge, Colorado.
First, I have to show you a picture of the view off Wilkerson Pass.
Gorgeous! It’s worth it to pull over and stay awhile at the rest stop at the top of Wilkerson pass. The views are just gorgeous. We stayed in town and started at first light (5:30 a.m.) at the Quandary Peak trailhead.
We strapped on snowshoes almost immediately because, as you can see, there is a lot of this stuff. It’s deep and post-holing it is not fun. Even with snowshoes, this was a workout from hell, folks.
The sky was clear (thank goodness!) and below tree-line the wind wasn’t too bad. Of course, as we got above tree-line, all bets were off. The wind was incredibly strong – it blew me flat on my side at least twice. We learned to duck our faces and let the flying ice pellets hit the tops of our heads during the worst gusts. We slid down the hill sometimes from the sheer force of the wind.
As we got to the first false summit (so rude, these damn things), we looked up to see who was ahead and how they were doing. There were two others – one hiker and one skiier. Yes, folks. That guy skied UPHILL. He later turned around about where we finally did and skied down. The wind was just too much he said.
This is where we decided to stop and turn around and head back. The snow was so deep it wore our energy out far too fast. The snowshoes are a help, but it was still a struggle – like walking versus walking in mud – and so we were done for.
The view from where we sat was amazing, however.
You can get an idea of the strength of the wind from this (oh-so-attractive) picture of me (note the trees in the background – ouch!).
All was not lost, however, because we got to see these mountain goats.
Can’t quite see them? Here’s a close-up.
We’ll come back and tackle this one in the summer. Now, for some more stretching. My hips are killing me!