Third time is a charm – a successful summit of Quandary Peak

About a month ago, we tried climbing Quandary, and last weekend we successfully achieved a summit.

We took the classic east slope route to the top of Quandary (14,265′). The route is 5.6 miles round trip with a 3,325′ gain in elevation. This peak is a Class 1. This time, because the exceedingly heavy snowfall had melted (mostly), we were able to park near the trail head. We woke at 3 a.m. and were at the trail head at 4:15. A start this early means you get a great parking spot (this is a highly popular trail because it’s 1. ‘easy’, and 2. close to Breckenridge and other popular ski towns); it also means hiking with headlamps.

The trail looks like this well before dawn.

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

As we reached the first false summit, we were thrilled to see a mama mountain goat and her kid walking toward us!

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

The sun had begun to rise and color the mountainside a bit by this time:

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

As the sun rose , the mountain goats got closer and closer until they were this close!

Quandary mountain goats

Oh my, this was so, so amazing! What a precious gift.  After they studied us for a bit, tolerating our picture-taking, they turned and headed down the trail we’d just come up. The light was much better by now and we didn’t need our headlamps anymore. This is my guy way ahead on the second false summit.

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

As you can tell from the ground in front of me, it’s just a hard rocky slog up.  At that snow patch, we pulled on our crampons for better gripping and less risk of slipping off the mountain.

From the top (looking back), the snow ridge looks like this:

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

At the top, the scene is a little more like this:

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

It was 7:30 in the morning, so we climbed it in just under 3 hours.

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

Lots and lots of snowy, rocky ridges beyond.

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

And then, we turned and headed back down.

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

Back to treeline:

Climbing Quandary, July 3, 2011

We were back to the truck by 10:20, so about 6 hours round trip, with a few stops for pictures and snacks.

Stay tuned for my new all-time favorite hike – Spruce Creek to Continental Falls and Mohawk Lake!

fourteenergirl Written by:

A mother, sister, wife, and daughter who writes, knits, hikes, and practices yoga on the west coast. Loves a zippy chardonnay or a tart margarita!

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