Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter and Mountains

The winter is fast-approaching and, for many, it's the time of year to retreat to the indoors and hibernate. Not me! While winter has never been my favorite season, I nonetheless try to embrace and make make the most of this time of year. I usually hold my running mileage to about 70 a week throughout the winter and am out there every day going at it, unless it's icy or below zero, in which case I run on a treadmill. Over the years I've found that proper apparel is critical to enjoying outdoor winter activities. If you wear cotton on a run in January, you're going to be cold and miserable. Especially with winter gear, it's worth it to buy decent stuff.

This winter I really want to enjoy what Colorado has to offer, starting with our mountains. I'm really excited to join a good friend of mine, Matt C., in summiting Quandary Peak, a notable 14,265-foot mountain near Breckenridge, in a few weeks. Matt is a superior skier and has bagged a few 14'ers in his day, so he'll be great company on this winter expedition. We've literally known each other for about 31 years now and we're also both two-time finishers of the Leadville 100.

Anyway, earlier this year a friend sent me a photo of someone he knew summiting Quandary in the winter. I've never forgotten that photo--it really stuck with me and created this burning desire to do a winter summit. Here's the photo:

Those little dots? Those are people. Yes, when you consider that the dots are people, it really puts into perspective how big these mountains in Colorado are. So long as the weather cooperates, that'll be Matt and me in a few weeks!

There's some gear I'm going to need for our Quandary expedition. First off, I'm going to need a pair of serious gloves that are both warm and wind-proof. I'm also going to need some decent winter boots and socks fit for mountaineering. I've looked on and REI and have seen a few I like. Matt's going to loan me a pair of his snow shoes (which boots fit into) so I can get a sense of what I like and don't like before buying some for myself. I've heard there's as much as 60 inches of snow up there right now! I already have trekking poles, a ski mask, a nice coat, plenty of high-quality layers, a day pack and other essentials. Let me know if you have any recommendations. Beyond gear, though, the most important thing I will need I already have--desire and fitness!

There is nothing quite like standing atop a 14,000-foot mountain. You've worked hard to get up there and your reward is a view like no other. You feel like you're on top of the world. This is how I felt for both of my Pikes Peak summits and my Mount Evans summit and I'm sure it's how I'll feel when Matt and I reach the top of Quandary. These 14,000-foot mountains we have here in Colorado are the reason I've always wanted to live here--and a big reason why I wake up every day feeling lucky. My dream is to one day summit all of them...and I will! My greatest dream, though, is to hike these mountains with Anne and Noah. Hopefully next year, when he's old enough, we can all ski (but first I need to learn how!) and then in a few years maybe Noah will be ready for some hikes at altitude. 
Here's to the many joys of Colorado living! And here's to YOU embracing the winter and making the most of the many unique opportunities it offers!


  1. The words "trekking poles" and "essentials" don't belong it the same sentence, Colorado Cupcake.

  2. Anonymous: Nothing like flaming and not having the balls to put your name to your post. Anyway, I'm a lot of things but a cupcake I'm not. I have two El Plato Grande buckles from Leadville to prove it. I don't know if you've ever been on a snowy mountain before but it helps to have trekking poles. I'm not yet experienced at winter mountain trips to I need all the help I can get. Good fitness will only get me so far.


  3. Gotta love anonymous comments...

    Good luck and have fun.