Thursday June 4th 2009 – Breckinridge, Colorado
After sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes our pilot explains that we are next in line for take-off. It’s drizzling rain, humid, and gloomy in Charlotte. Within minutes we are cruising at 30,000 feet and are now completely above the weather system. The sea of clouds remind me of the endless dunettes (small sand dunes in French) in the Sahara.
After landing we make our way to Bills house in Breckinridge. The plan tomorrow is to be out the door by 7am and hike up to Quandary Peak (14,271 feet). Bill has cautioned me that if I wanted to reach the summit I would need full rain gear, ice axe, my double plastics, crampons, etc. So I packed it all.
Friday June 5th 2009 – Quandary Peak, Colorado
We left the house by 7am and made a pit-stop for breakfast. I had oatmeal with blueberries and brown sugar. This would be fuel to get me to the summit.
We began our ascent at 8:35am, the trailhead elevation was at 10,890 feet. Taking our time to hike up, and acclimatizing, we made several stops for some hydration and calories. I was in no hurry, taking photos and some videos of the amazing expansive views before me. The climb up Quandaray can be steep in some sections and the ridge is narrow. I few feet to the right and a few feet to the left could be a fatal fall of 800 feet, you don’t want to slip here. The snow had built up nicely and a cornice had formed high up on the ridge which I took note of. As I ascended into the Colorado skies I noticed black clouds moving in. The summer time in Colorado is known for afternoon storms and clouds. I decided to pick up the pace and get my first Colorado 14er under my belt. I was at the summit at 11:25am (2:50hrs) and I was surprised at how calm it was at the summit. I made a few phone calls and took some shots of the majestic views. I decided to spend some time on the summit as I was feeling good and pulled out some sweet Western Cherries and cooled them on the summit snow, then gobbled them up. Shortly after I began my descent.
The was softening as it was warming up later in the day. Take huge strides digging in with my heel allowed me to cover the descent in 10% the time it took me to climb it up on the ridge. I had my ice axe out in front of my chest in “ready mode.” I prepared to fall at any point and arrest myself should I need to do so. After I was off the snow, I trotted down to the car and unloaded my heavy gear. I was feeling great to be high up in the Rockies and decided to go for a run. So I did just that, and ran from the trailhead to Erics Pizza in Breckinridge (8.3 miles away) in 1:15hrs. I downed a French Onion soup and 2 and 1/3 slices of pizza with my Mt. Elbrus climbing buddies and went back to Bills for more food. We enjoyed a new culinary concept to me that is originally Swiss, grilling on the Raclette. It was fantastic!
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