Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday, 01/10/09 Quandary Peak

Quandary Peak
5.4 miles
3,370 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, John Prater, Kevin Lund, Steve Hoffmeyer, John Broadbooks, Paul Stratmoen, Mike Via, Carol Gerber and Sierra.
5:36 RT

We enjoyed a great Fourteenerworld “Winter Warriors” outing today up Quandary Peak. It was a bit cold at the start (I think Paul said something about -7 or so) and it took me a while to warm up my toes and feet. We made good time through the trees and split into a few small groups that varied moment to moment. It was nice to go casual and enjoy a bit of conversation and picture taking, as conversation would soon become very limited.

As we gained elevation, the winds increased with each foot. Sierra was doing pretty well, but as cold and windy as it was, I was starting to get a bit worried about her paws. She did not seem as concerned, but to be on the safe side, I stopped periodically and warmed her feet.As we were getting close to the summit, I decided to hurry ahead, then get back down quickly with Sierra to get her out of the worst of the elements. As I increased my effort up the final ~1,000 feet, I got pretty warm despite the serious wind/cold and the heat I generated fogged/froze the inside of my goggles. I had no choice but to put them on my head, leaving my face exposed for the final few hundred feet. Fighting the headwind and ground blizzard, this final stretch seemed to take a long time.

I was hoping that there would be the usual wind shadow once we topped out, where I could deal with my goggles and relax a bit, but it was just the opposite, as the wind went from fiercely strong to nearly intolerable. The final ~200 lateral feet to the true summit was probably the worst I have endured, as I had now ditched my completely useless goggles and now had no face or eye protection for a short while. I alternately staggered and hunkered my way across to the true summit, the wind snatching each breath as I struggled to inhale.Once on the summit, I huddled over my pack and quickly swapped my goggles (bringing an extra pair saved me) and tried to dig out my camera for a photo, but my jacket zipper was frozen.

I looked around for Sierra (I could swear she was with me), but did not see her. I was so consumed with my own discomfort, I was not paying attention to her. I was seriously nervous that she may have blown off the top and was frantically searching around the immediate summit area. I did not see her, so I started back, where John confirmed that she was heading down to shepherd Allison to the summit.

Once I dropped off the summit about a 100 vertical, I sat in the relative wind shadow where I put Sierra on my lap to cover her up with my body to warm her which I think worked well. Once Allison tagged the summit and re-joined us, we quickly headed down to get out of the wind and wait for the remainder of the group. It was pretty close to treeline before we found a respite from the wind, as conditions actually worsened on the descent. We passed several groups heading up into the maelstrom and I was very relieved to be heading down.

Due to dog sitting duties, Allison and I, along with Kevin and John had to boogey and were sorry not to finish the day as a group. Despite the tough conditions up high, it was a successful and enjoyable day with all 9 people and Sierra making the summit.



  1. I was looking at Quandry today thinking ... "no way would I want to go up in this stuff."

    And then I get home and read this. Sheesh.

  2. Man, I'm bagging ultrarunning and getting into this stuff.