A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Alan and I climbed Quandary Peak (14,265 ft) today. This represents the first 14er I have climbed in calendar winter. This represents departure from the norm and shows the strength of the mountains’ siren song, as I am one to avoid subzero temperatures and high winds.


Breckenridge is at 9,600 feet, our trailhead was another 1,400 feet higher, thus even colder. Put two 6 foot men in a truck, tell them the weather outside is below zero, without considering wind chill, and then sit back and watch what amounts to a confined space yoga class as they don a variety of gear. I was excited!


It was calm to start. It was like a backdrop to winter tourism in Colorado. A fresh layer of powder,the trees lightly dusted, sunshine peeking over the high ridge to our east and “snow” quiet. I love the silence that accompanies snow, when all sounds are muted or muffled and for a short period the rough edges of the world are softened.


We could see wind driven snow, but had largely been protected from it as we were below the mountains eastern flank. This changed at 12,000 feet, where balaclavas and ski goggles went on. Walking in these conditions is an isolated experience. Your field of vision is narrowed since your head is lowered to avoid wind. And the wind and balaclava conspire to make hearing one another a challenge. It becomes an exercise in watching your feet move forward.

It had been since August that I was above treeline. The thin air and steep slope work to slow you down, but the reward of infinite views push you on. The singular focus on movement through the steep alpine environment was a welcome relief from the mental chatter and overall confusion about life I have been feeling otherwise.


1 comment:

  1. You certainly make more out of your weekends than I do. Quite an impressive feat, but I'm happy to be well above zero and eating a donut.