Hikers Keep Losing Shoes in Deep Snow on 14,271′ Quandary Peak, CO

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Hikers are losing shoes on Quandary Peak, CO. Credit: Summit County Sheriff’s Office

A snowy winter combined with recent warm temperatures has led to rescue missions rarely seen by the Summit County Search and Rescue teams… hikers are losing their shoes.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, the team described three recent rescues on 14er Quandary Peak, including two people losing shoes and another woman post-holing up to her chest.

The post advises that now is not a good time to be hiking, and if you must go out into the mountains, go on snowshoes or skis.

Are you wondering if you read that right? It’s probably not a sentence we have ever used before in our 50 year history. The impact of very warm temperatures on our current snowpack is not to be underestimated. Of the three rescues we’ve had on Quandary since Tuesday, one was a hiker postholing up to her chest, one was a solo hiker who lost a shoe, and one was a group of three in which one of them had lost a shoe. Here is what we want you to take away from this:

–This is not a great time to go hiking, period.

–If you’re going anyway, make sure you have skis or snowshoes. If you’re an experienced backcountry skier, choose your skis. If you’re not experienced with skis, choose snowshoes; otherwise you may have whole new problem set.

–If you’re on snowshoes, do your best to stay on the trail. You will certainly posthole, even with your snowshoes, if you get off trail. You may posthole with snowshoes even on the trail.

We will be auctioning off all shoes and boots found on Quandary this summer after the snow melts. Just kidding. But please don’t go up there and lose any more footwear this week.

Photos by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office drone (thanks, guys!)

Credit: Summit County Sheriff’s Office

According to Wikipedia, Quandary Peak is the highest summit of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America and is the most commonly climbed fourteener in Colorado. It has nearly the same elevation as Castle Peak and Mount Evans. It lies in Summit County and within the White River National Forest about 6 miles (10 km) south-southwest of Breckenridge.

In June 2021, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative announced that Quandary Peak was Colorado’s most popular 14’er in 2020. The Initiative’s data indicated that the peak saw 49,179 hiker days in 2020. Its popularity in recent years has caused severe parking problems at the trailheads, prompting local officials to initiate new parking policies.

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Quandary Peak, CO

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