14er Summit

We summited Quandary Peak (14,265′) the day before Father’s Day 2012.

Different websites rate the trail up Quandary Peak as a Class 1 or Class 2 climb. I feel it’s definitely a Class 2. Some of the sections involve quite a bit of rock hopping.

We summited at noon and spent about ten minutes on the summit. It was fairly cold in the wind and began to snow as we topped out. On our way down, there were still people climbing up, despite the ominous weather and thunder to the south-east. There were easily over a hundred people on the mountain that day. Maybe I didn’t find the right pages, but the summit register appeared full, so I wedged our names onto the top of one of the pages.

Maybe we didn’t notice because we were working so hard, but it seemed like there were more wildflowers out as we descended later in the day.

Over the last couple of thousand vertical feet, Cindy kept a step count so we could rest at regular intervals. It was a pretty effective method for a family of flatlander Midwesterners who had only been acclimatizing for four days. My Suunto Vector was off, so my barometer said we still had 450 vertical feet to go as we reached the summit plateau. I thought we still had a ways to go, so the summit was a pleasant surprise.

Six mountain goats met us on the trail on the way down. We arrived at the parking lot at 8 A.M., and there were already two dozen cars overflowing the lot. Our total trip time was six and a half hours – four hours up and two hours and twenty minutes down. Cindy struggled with the altitude. Elli kept pace the entire way. Cindy paced us up the trail by counting steps. Around 13,000 feet, she complained about her left arm being numb, but Elli and I encouraged her and basically dragged her along.  At one point she sat down and complained about wanting to go to sleep. In a panic, I urged her to get up and keep going. She did, and we summited about ten minutes later. Cindy hates going downhill, so it is a good thing I carried trekking poles up for her. She later said this was the hardest thing she ever did.


The town of Frisco was having its 19th annual BBQ Challenge that weekend, so the night before we chowed on street barbecue. These are the pork BBQ nachos I had. My mouth still waters every time I see this photo.

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