Random Fourteener Fact: Quandary Peak was so named because 1860s prospectors were unable to identify a mineral on it's slopes.
Karl Kelman has climbed Quandary at least three times; once in about 1983, once in the early 1990s (with the Hiker, I think), and on a 2015 expedition with the 52 Minute Men and Women.
Quandary is home to a large number of Mountain Goats. On summer days, they seem to collect along the trail, as if people watching is their main form of recreation.
The FKT for a Quandary ascent is 52 minutes. Anton Krupicka has climbed it in 57 minutes. But, it's only about 3.5 miles one way. All you've got to do to set a new FKT is just maintain a brisk (4 MPH or so) so walk. Or run a little down lower in the forest, then walk at a normal or slow pace up higher.
I didn't really think I'd set a record with a crew consisting of an old man (me) and two Fourteener never-evers. But two hours seemed reasonable, and we all joked about beating the 52 minute ascent mark or 30 minute descent mark. However, I thought a 2 MPH uphill average could be possible: Two hours up; maybe an hour and a half down? Isn't that 52 minute ascent FKT sort of "weak?" After all, Quandary seems pretty much like a European Vertical Kilometer race (with an extra 400 vert tossed in), and winning times for them are often about 30 minutes. That Krupicka was 5 minutes slower than the FKT should have been a tip off that it wasn't weak at all.
Well, old Quandary is tougher than it looks. Above treeline, there are plenty of "wrong size" rocks. Not so small that they are consistent (gravel), or so big that they are stable (boulders). Bowling ball size rocks that like to tip under your feet. It's hard to maintain a good, steady pace, or adjust stride length for maximum efficiency. Hoka One One Valor shoes, tall and wide in the sole, probably didn't help. Net result: Three hours up (which seems to be pretty common from trip reports), and about two hours down. It's the 30 minute downhill that's really impressive from the Round-Trip FKT. That's pushing 8 MPH on some really unstable footing with steeper sections. I'd want full body armor for that speed, personally.
European Vertical Kilometer races are also generally held pretty close to sea level. Quandary's a pinch higher. The Neverever portion of our crew from the 2015 expedition was definitely suffering from the effects of altitude at the top: One had a headache, and the other was happy. Too happy. Continuously laughing, and order of talk no speak good grammar order wrong talk hypoxia problem like 16 beers no why me good talk not?