I spent the week of May 27th with my parents in Breckenridge, Colorado celebrating their 30th anniversary. We had rented a condo with a great view of Peak 8 and planned on spending the week hiking and touring through the Rockies. This of course meant heading up a couple 14ers!
On Memorial day we made our way to Quandary Peak, which is the closest 14er to Breck. We started up the summit trail just before 7am and there were already several cars parked at the trailhead, and more rolling in behind us. The trail started off steep as it climbed about 3,000ft in just 3.3 miles to the summit.
As we climbed toward tree line we could hear the wind blowing the trees above. I could tell it was going to be very windy above tree line. A small clearing in the trees provided a brief stretch of flat hiking as well as our first view of the summit.
Once at tree line, we were out in the wind, and it had some power behind it! The gusts were strong enough to throw you off balance, and frequent enough to be quite tiring. Shortly above tree line, the parents had had enough and made their way back down. I continued on, but not before taking shelter behind a small shrub to put on my gloves. The wind was sucking all the heat out of my hands.
As I sat behind the shrub adding layers and having a snack, I was caught by another hiker named Vinnie. He was continuing to the top after his buddy had turned back earlier.
From there the two of us continued up the ridge to the summit. At this point we were traveling across steep scree. The trail continued to climb until it reached a short plateau before making the final push to the summit.
The summit ridge was a bit narrow, and still had a few patches of snow left. The path over these had been left quite slick from the wind and people, so we passed along the edge of the snow patches in order to stay on the rocks.
The summit was cold and windy, but there were several short rock walls that had been build up to provide some shelter from the wind.
Despite having passed several groups of people on the way up, there were only three other hikers and a dog on the summit when we arrived. After a snack, signing the summit register (we were the 9th and 10th to summit that day), and snapping a few pictures, it was time to head down and get out of the wind!
The return trip to the trailhead was uneventful as we passed a steady stream of people heading for the top. Back below the line it was time to shed a few layers and head for the cars. Lunch was fast approaching, an I was ready for a beer!
You can find more photos on Flickr!
Back at the condo, I set up the GoPro to catch a little cloud motion over Peak 8