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Ascent of Quandary Peak on 2016-08-26

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, August 26, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Quandary Peak
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14265 ft / 4347 m

Ascent Trip Report

It rained the night before and the weather report was not looking good when I went to bed; but I awoke at 3AM and the latest report suddenly said no rain expected now until after noon but could be very cloudy. I got to the TH parking early and was the second car. One team had set out before me a guy from Denver with a buddy from DC that was going for his 26th 14er. Other cars started to pile in so I set out by myself with headlamp and hoping to summit in under 3 hours. I was moving fast until acclimation issues started around 12k and that is where the first traces of snow showed up. Apparently it freshly snowed up high and by 12,600 feet there was a nice dusting. By 13,000 feet there was a cloudy white out and wind whipping snow in my face. I could now see several parties below me but they were not catching up to me and I was gaining on the two ahead of me but they were going into a white out above 13,400 and I lost them. The snow was about 3 to 6 inches above 13,500 but in places about 12 inches thick and I was grateful that the team ahead of me were breaking the snow in as I forgot to bring microspikes or poles and there was some slippery places along the way.

I promised my cardiologist and wife not to push my heart anymore. It is odd to be in good shape but have to worry about over stressing your ticker and having issues. So I stopped to layer, stopped get food and Gatorade, to take photos, stopped whenever I could feel my pulse in my neck. My rate of climb above 13k seemed ridiculously slow to me but I was surprised that nobody below me was catching up to me. I could barely see the two figures at the top when I summited but apparently I had caught up to them and they were surprised how fast I made it through the snow. I was surprised it only took 2 hours and 25 minutes considering how many times I stopped along the way.

They had 35 and now 26 14ers in CO and that was only my 12th. But the views were not there. We were socked in perhaps 40 feet of visibility. I could not see anyone below us on the mountain. They wanted to rest up so I started down and was surprised by the amount of people that had turned away in the white out; but the moment I hit 13,500 the winds seemed to push all the clouds out and it looked like everyone else coming up would have good views. I passed 80 people on the way down! I was surprised to see what a little sun, and 80 sets of boots do to a trail. What had been a slosh through 6 to 12 inches of snow and the trail was completely covered in places on the way up; was now a wide clear path free of snow with gobs of trekkers coming up later in the morning. I was always told to get up early and get down early. I left at 6:10 AM and I was the first down but because of the low cloud cover - saw no views. I was down by 10AM. Normally, any 14er get a rating of 8 or 9 from me. I love them! But a white-out summit followed by 80 climbers has to go down as only a 7 for me as I only got to enjoy the views below 12.5k.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3395 ft / 1034 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3395 ft / 1034 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.8 mi / 10.9 km
    Grade/Class:1
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, White-out
36 F to below 32
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3375 ft / 1028 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3365 ft / 1025 m; Extra: 10 ft / 3m
    Loss on way in:10 ft / 3 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:Class 1 route standard
    Start Trailhead:Standard Parking Lot  10900 ft / 3322 m
    Time:2 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3385 ft / 1031 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3365 ft / 1025 m; Extra: 20 ft / 6m
    Gain on way out:20 ft / 6 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:same plus a small deviation
    End Trailhead:same  10900 ft / 3322 m
    Time:1 Hours 20 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Colo-3

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Quandary Peak2016-08-26 a3395 ft / 1035 m
2Royal Mountain2016-08-26 b1512 ft / 461 m
3Smoky Hill Ridge2016-08-26 c82 ft / 25 m
4Adams County High Point2016-08-26 d115 ft / 35 m
Total Trip Gain: 5104 ft / 1556 m    Total Trip Loss: 5022 ft / 1531 m



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