Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  09/25/2013
Date Climbed:   09/23/2013
Author:  boudreaux
 An Early Winter on Quandary Peak   

Renee and I made the arduous drive from Golden to Blue River through a slushy, slippery I-70 at the tunnel. Hwy 9 south was much more pleasant, but all the mountains were obscured with low clouds wreaking havoc on the Ten Mile Range. We pulled up to the TH around 7am, while getting ready for a big day, the winds were ripping above the trees, roaring like a freight train. Oh yeah, just wait til we get above treeline!

A light crust of snow on the trail posed no problem to us. Once at the base of the East ridge, the banshees were swirling around the crest, undaunted we marched on. The 1st grove of aspen was waving it's glorious golden gloves of shimmering light at us, inviting us to tread ever so carefully! We had the 1st tracks of the day. The trail was sometimes easy to hike, other times it was buried in 10" deep pockets of wind blown powder.

A forecast of 50% chance of precip before 9am lived up to it's billing. 40 mph gusts pummelled us every so often, sending cold blasts of spindrift in our faces, bending us over to keep our balance. Occasionally the sun did come out, but only for a moment, and then the moment was gone!

Finally getting on the ridge, the banshees dancing around us, the clouds racing from north to south, we were able to see Quandary for a minute or two and then she would shyly retreat back under the covers. It was peak-a-boo all day. We walked about 50 yards below the ridge on the north to get somewhat out of the wind, and for the most part that worked well for us. About 200' above the flat part of the ridge, we got back on and grinded up the final pyramid to a thrilling, but punishing bout of winds. It was hard, the talus and scree not yet frozen together was giving me fits, but Renee seemed to be going smoothly. She was worried about the thin air, but I asked her lots of questions and she maintained a very acute, sharp awareness and wondered why! She was just fine, never saw her suffer, never had any doubts about her efforts! We didn't stay long at the top! It actually was a pleasant descent, we turned our backs on the banshees and enjoyed the ride down.

The trail down the upper mountain was covered in 6" to 10" windslab and made the hiking down very nice, unless you stepped on an unseen downsloping rock and down you went. No goats today, but we saw plenty of hoof prints. By the time we got down to treeline, the sky had cleared and the sun was out, a little late, but glad it came.

Great day after all!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Looks like fun!
09/25/2013 20:18
That's what I'm talkin' about! SNOW!!!


09/26/2013 16:32
Glad to see you again...feels like I was there with you.


09/26/2013 22:21
I was talking about you on Monday, it was like you were there, almost the same weather, but not as cold! I could hear Joe Satriani playing in my mind! Renee is from Vermont and she got her 2nd 14er!

Jay: you got that right, Jack!

winter conditions
09/27/2013 03:23
I'm planning a trip to CO next September to hike my 1st 14er. Quandary is the one I will do. I've been watching the trip reports this month to get an idea on how cold it might be and what I might expect. This tells me that I need to be prepared for winter conditions towards the end of September. I will definitely be packing my winter jacket!


You never know...
09/27/2013 14:10
what your gonna get, but this year is a little more snow than in past years, and usually late Sept to sometimes early Nov offer some of the best weather to go climb a peak. Never hurts to be prepared, but you could be walking up in shorts next year!

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