With a gentle ridge to the top and a trailhead that begins right off a paved highway, Quandary Peak is one of Colorado’s most popular 14ers and great for first-timers. At 14,265 feet, it’s the highest peak in the Tenmile Range (the mountains that make up the Breckenridge Ski Resort.) The main route up the East Ridge is less than 3.5 miles, though steep in places.
I rarely climb the same 14er twice, but when two old friends from Israel visited in the summer of 2006 and wanted to climb one, I picked Quandary. Their visit was at the climax of the 2006 war in Lebanon, which had them deeply troubled about events at home. But they experienced the full healing power of the mountains, made the summit easily, and had a story to share with their friends back home. Nobody talked about the war at all that day.
- Parking can be an issue on summer weekends. If the main lot is full, park in the overflow lot adjacent to Colorado Highway 9. The sheriff’s office may ticket people who park in front of nearby homes. Or better yet, avoid summer weekends.
- This is a great beginner mountain for 14er skiers. The East Ridge is readily accessible all year and usually holds continuous snow through May from the summit to near timberline.
- Breckenridge Brewery is only a few miles away, on the south side of the namesake ski town. After the hike, stop for a burger and vanilla porter and celebrate the accomplishment.
Recommended season(s): Late spring to mid-fall
—R. Scott Rappold