Snow Mountain Climb Part 2: Quandry


The car rental place closed at noon and the shop closed at 4 and we had no idea what we were going to do. We were hungry from just trying to climb a mountain and could solve that problem so we drove a couple blocks away from the shop to Dillon Damn Brewery.


We got a couple craft brews and some lunch. I called enterprise and described our problem and made sure we could turn in the truck after hours or if worst came to worst drive it home and turn it in back in KC. After lunch we had still not heard back from the shop so went there in person to find out. They still had no update for us. The owner went back and took a look and told us he wanted to replace the plugs, wires, distributor cap and do an oil change. They had charged us $100 for a diagnosis but not diagnosed at all what was wrong. They had no idea if these $500 in parts and labor would fix the problem but that was all they were willing to do.

We looked into options of towing it home but decided to pay the $500 and cross our fingers. The shop was closed Sunday but he was sure they could get it done by 4. We nervously left the shop and drove down toward Fairplay, CO. On the way down we stopped at the Quandry Peak Trailhead. It was right off the highway. This time the parking area farther up the mountain was only .1 mile away so it was not a big deal to start from the lower trailhead. Everything looked good for Sunday’s climb.

We checked into a hotel with a broken hot tub and got unpacked and relaxed at 3:50 the shop called. They had replaced the parts, test drove the truck and reported it was running great now. I paid him over the phone and had him leave the keys in the gas cap cover. Feeling much better Jon and I walked a quarter mile down the road to the South Park Brewery.

Besides having great beers we had some good burritos and taco salads and watched the Sweet Alma Soul Sisters perform.


We ended up staying at the brewery a long time and drinking a ton of water and 3 beers each. The band was good and the place got packed. Then we walked to the room and got showered and packed for the morning.Then we got to bed early and set our alarms for 4am again.

It was not as good of a night of sleep and the room was pretty hot. We still got going quick in the morning and started our way up the mountain at 4:50am. We had headlamps on but just our boots on the nice wide packed down tough path. We set a quick pace and didn’t stop. The hike started out fairly pleasant but 45 or so minutes in we started a pretty steep climb. It was not a real noticeable change as we left the treeline in the dark. A nice snowfall had been dropping all morning but it got more noticeable as we left the treeline and got more exposed.

We climbed on and it was so cloudy that the sunrise was really gradual and not that noticeable. It was 7F when we left the truck and the temp felt to be dropping a lot as we climbed. The wind was picking up and not helping. We stopped for water breaks a few times but stopping really cooled us off fast and drinking water that was quickly turning into an ice block did not help. Our fingers were too cold to get real motivated to dig in our bags for food.

The tough slowly went away but the wind had blown the snow off so we were fortunately not sinking in deep snow. The trail got harder to find and eventually disappeared again and again we were the first ones up an unfamiliar mountain and not certain of where to go. I had less good maps for this peak and it was too cold to check often. We got to just over 13,000′ and stopped just below a ridge. We could see the snow blowing really hard on the ridge and we knew the way up from here was to stick to the ridge. We stopped and caught our breath and talked a bit. The weather was bad and seemed to be getting worse, I was shivering and the view was so limited with the thick cloud cover.


We were fairly certain we could push on and get to the top but would not be able to see much and may have a hard time finding our way down. Our footprints in the snow were quickly disappearing. So we decided to turn back again. I think it was good decision because moments after turning back we discovered we had made a wrong turn trying to follow our path back and had gotten into steep deep snow. It took us a minute to figure out what direction we needed to go into and after backtracking a bit we got back on course.


Eventually we could see the highway in the distance and then our path. We had switched to our snowshoes in the deep snow and they worked great on the way down allowing us to slide a bit with each step but stop once the spikes in them caught.


It felt better and warmer as soon as we got back to the trees.


We had some pretty sweet ice beards again.


It was a steep climb but we had not gone that many miles so the trip down went fast. It was again a really peaceful pleasant hike down in the daylight. It was still early in the morning when we reached the trail head.


We found 1 group headed up and another in the parking lot that wanted to know about our experience but the storm was going to keep them down.

We ate most of the drive from Quandry back up to Dillon. We went right to my truck and moved all the gear back to it, gassed up the rental truck, gassed up my truck, returned the rental and tried to fill up my tire that had lost it’s air on the way to CO. At the gas station we tightened a strap around it as much as we could and tried to fill it but the air pump was pretty low pressure and it never seemed to snap into shape. We decided to take it to a tire shop in Denver. Then we hit the road. Leaving Dillon you go up the mountains a bit and then downhill all the way home pretty much. We had the tire in the backseat and something with the altitude changes worked and out of nowhere was a loud boom and the tire had popped back into place. We stopped at another gas station and filled it up and then put it back under the truck good as new.

The drive home was fortunately uneventful. The roads were good, the truck did well and traffic was not bad. We got home just before 9pm and had some fajitas and beers with the wifes.

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