Colorado 14ers Mountain Climb: Quandary Peak


July 1976 Brian and others; October 1979 Doug and others; July 1997 Doug, Kevin and Mike (his Son); June 1998 Doug, Wayne and Jane

Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Quandary Peak at sunrise from Wayne & Jane's
deck
Quandary Peak at sunrise from Wayne & Jane's deck
Topographical Map

Text and Photos by Doug

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Quandary Peak, at 14,265 feet, is the 13th highest 14er in Colorado. It is considered a good first time, family peak. The name supposedly was given by some miners who had difficulty in identifying mineral specimens on the mountain. Ironically, when Wayne, Jane and I climbed Quandary in 1998, Wayne, who is a geologist, found some fields of feldspar on its eastern flanks that seemed out of place, geologically speaking, and left him in somewhat of a quandary.

The standard route, following the large east ridge all the way to the summit, is easily accessed by: taking Colorado Hwy 9 eight miles south from Breckenridge, turning onto a forest service road just as the first big switchback starts up to Hoosier Pass, and taking the forest service road back north and west approximately 1 mile to the trailhead sign on the west side of the road. Cars park along both sides of road - lots of cars; it's hard to miss. The trail up to the east ridge is clear and the several forks are all marked with signs on trees. Once on the east ridge, continue following the trail, all the way to the top. And, do not get discouraged by the false summits. Since Quandary is a somewhat `rolling' peak, the true summit is not visible for most of the climb. The climb totals between 5.6 and 6 miles round trip, gaining (and losing) 3,345-3,365 feet in the process. Quandary is rated a Class 2, Novice hike/climb. For detailed route descriptions and maps, we recommend you use one of the three guidebooks that are now available for climbing Colorado's Fourteeners. We confer with all three before hiking, as each offers a slighhtly different perspective. (Check out our Favorite Links section.)

Although I have climbed Quandary 3 times, Brian and I have never climbed it together. He climbed Quandary in 1976, the same year he `dragged' me up the Mount of the Holy Cross and gave me my first taste of mountain (and 14ers) climbing in Colorado.

Interestingly, all 3 times I have climbed Quandary, it has been a `first-14er' for my climbing partners. I first climbed it in early October 1979, on a beautiful late fall day. (October can be a good month to climb big mountains in Colorado, in dry years, because there is little or no threat of afternoon thunderstorms.) 1979 was such a year. Back then the lower section of Quandary's east ridge route was undefined. The route began sooner, further south than now, and consisted of bushwacking up to the east ridge, where the trail to the top was found.

In 1997, Kevin, a friend and business associate who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming and has a condo in Keystone, Colorado, asked me if I would go up Quandary with him and his son, Mike - as their first 14er. Twist my arm! It was a real kick to go back, after 18 years, to re-capture my memories and see how things had changed. Kevin and Mike did fine, and found out several basic truisms of climbing 14ers - even if one is climbing a relatively `easy' 14er, the air is thin up there, climbing uphill at that altitude is always work and losing 3,000+ feet in altitude coming down does tend to beat up the knees, legs and feet.

 
The following year, in 1998, friends Wayne and Jane, who had built a new home just across the valley from Quandary, asked me if I would go up with them. Heck, I'd already done it twice and had just done it the previous summer, but ... again, twist my arm! (Obviously, I'm not a `peak bagger' - I love to hike and climb, especially with great climbing companions). Colorado 14ers Climb
Photo: Wayne and Jane by the summit pole on top of Quandary Peak Wayne and Jane had a double motive. First, they wanted to climb Quandary because it's there, in their front yard. In addition, their daughter was going to be married in Breckenridge the following month, and they wanted to see if it was possible, and practical, for them to take a rather large entourage up the mountain during the wedding week. It was and they did.
Wayne and Jane by the summit pole on top of Quandary Peak
 
The following photos were all (except the first) taken from the summit of Quandary Peak. Quandary affords some spectacular views - the Gore Range, South Park, the Sange de Cristos, the Elks, and 15 identifiable 14ers.
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Sunrise looking over Dillon
Reservoir from Frisco Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama looking north at
the Gore Range
Sunrise looking over Dillon Reservoir from Frisco Panorama looking north at the Gore Range
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Closeup of the Gore Range
from Quandary's summit Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Closeup of the Gore Range
from Quandary's summit
Closeup of the Gore Range Closeup of the Gore Range
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama southeast showing
Longs Peak and Grays & Torreys Peaks Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Closer view of Longs Peak-
on the far horizon
Panorama southeast showing Longs Peak and Grays & Torreys Peaks Closer view of Longs Peak-on the far horizon
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama of Grays and
Torreys Peaks
Panorama of Grays and Torreys Peaks
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama to the south
toward Mount Evans Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Closer view of Mount
Evans
Panorama to the south toward Mount Evans Closer view of Mount Evans
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama southeast with
Pikes Peak on the horizon Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Slightly closer view of Pikes
Peak
Panorama southeast with Pikes Peak on the horizon Slightly closer view of Pikes Peak
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: South across South Park
toward the Sangre de Cristo Range Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Sangre de Cristo Range
beyond South Park
South across South Park toward the Sangre de Cristo Range Sangre de Cristo Range beyond South Park
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Bross, Lincoln, Democrat,
Oxford, Belford and Missouri, all 14ers Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Bross and
Lincoln Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Democrat, Oxford, Belford
and Missouri
Bross, Lincoln, Democrat, Oxford, Belford and Missouri, all 14ers Bross and Lincoln Democrat, Oxford, Belford and Missouri
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama southwest toward
La Plata, Elbert and Massive Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Independence Pass in front of
La Plata Peak and Mount Elbert
Panorama southwest toward La Plata, Elbert and Massive Independence Pass in front of La Plata Peak and Mount Elbert
 
Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Mt Massive and the
Elk Mtns, which contain six 14ers Colorado 14ers Climb Photo: Panorama west
toward Mount of the Holy Cross
Mt Massive and the Elk Mtns, which contain six 14ers Panorama west toward Mount of the Holy Cross


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