Ascent of Quandary Peak on 2012-08-24

Climber: Matt Thalman

Others in Party:Michelle Thalman
Teryn Ebert
Levi Goedl
Ann Lorson
Shelby Heinold
Date:Friday, August 24, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Quandary Peak
    Elevation:14265 ft / 4347 m

Ascent Trip Report

My wife and I had moved to Fort Collins, CO from the flatlands of Fargo, ND about 2 months before this summit attempt of Quandary Peak. We had reached the summit of a few other smaller mountains (7K-8K ft) but this would be our first 14er.

We drove to Breckenridge the night before to stay at a hotel so we could get a decent night sleep and not have to get up crazy early like our friends. They would leave Fort Collins around 3:30 am to make the 2 1/2 hour drive. When I woke up that morning, I checked the weather forecast and was concerned that it said there would be scattered thunderstorms. Although rain wasn't to be expected until 11 am. We would be off the summit by then. (It actually would never rain the entire time we were there.) So we made the short drive to the trailhead to meet our friends and headed up the trail at around 6:15 am. There were 6 of us, with 3 of us being 14er newbies.

The beginning of the hike was great. I did start out breathing a bit heavily but I eventually got used to the thin air. I was hoping for some better views of the surrounding area when we got above treeline but low clouds were blanketing the area. Things were always changing though so periodically you would get a nice view of a nearby mountain. There were many times on the hike where we could only see the mountain we were hiking on and everything else was clouds. It made for a strangely isolating experience.

We eventually went from a dirt trail to rock which certainly slowed me down. As we went higher and higher, I would grow to hate those rock steps more and more. Along the way, we would be passed by several other individuals and groups, which was a little discouraging. "Why can't we pass someone?", I asked. We eventually would just below the summit.

Around 13,000', the altitude was starting to affect me more than just the heavy breathing. I had a slight case of light-headedness which was manageable throughout the rest of the hike. Frequent stops were key. Surprisingly, I never really developed a headache which I've often had when reaching high altitudes.

Crossing the exposed ridge line at around the 2.5 mile point was pretty cool. With the breeze coming from the north, the south side of the ridge was completely filled with clouds while the north side was clear. It made for some excellent photos.

After crossing that ridge line, it was up a steep rocky trail. This was the most difficult point of the hike. It didn't seem to ever stop. I kept checking my Garmin to see the elevation and it felt like we were hardly making progress. I knew there were supposed to be false summits, but when we encountered the last one, it kind of sucked. I was really hoping it was the real one. But we had a little bit left to go.

And then we could see it. We could see a few people at the summit and we were almost there. When we reach the summit there wasn't much to see. The south side was completely filled with clouds. On the north, you could see there was a valley but most of it was clouds. As we stayed on the summit, though, the clouds would periodically clear and eventually some sun touched the ridges which was a fantastic view.

We hung out on the summit for about 45 mins which went by pretty quickly. It eventually was making us cold enough that we figured it was time to head back down. The descent was obviously much faster, just a bit tougher on my feet. It was great reaching the trailhead. I was ready to be done. We all celebrated by heading over to Breckenridge Brewery for some lunch.

Elevation by distance

Elevation by time
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3321 ft / 1012 m
    Elevation Loss:3354 ft / 1022 m
    Distance:6.7 mi / 10.7 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3321 ft / 1012 m
    Distance:3.3 mi / 5.3 km
    Trailhead:Quandary Peak East Trailhead  10944 ft / 3335 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 22 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:3354 ft / 1022 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.4 km
    Trailhead:Quandary Peak East Trailhead  10911 ft / 3325 m
    Time Down:1 Hours 58 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Matt Thalman
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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