(Last Updated On: February 4, 2015)
This is part of an ongoing series re-telling Brittany’s fourteener-skiing story. Look for the reports every Thursday, as part of a Throwback Thursday theme.
Quandary Peak was my tenth fourteener to ski. Frank could not join me for this one so I rounded up Brett Foncannon and his friend Jesse Hill. Below is a slightly modified version of my original trip report.
TR: Quandary Peak (14,265 ft)
The sign on the highway reads “Mount Quandary Peak”. How something can be BOTH a “mount” and a “peak” at the same time, I am not exactly sure. I don’t even know the difference between a “mount” and a “peak”. But I believe that CDOT was decidedly confused themselves since the books and maps and websites all seem to call it “Quandary Peak”. Hence, I have come to believe that Quandary is a “peak” not a “mount”. 🙂
I have to admit, when we first got a glimpse of the east side of Quandary from Highway 9, things were looking pretty grim. The east face of Quandary looked like it had been hit by a hurricane. Many parts of the ridge looked devoid of snow. But other parts of it had filled in quite well, so we had hope.
We began our skin from the Monte Cristo trailhead off of Blue Lakes road at 8 am. It was a bluebird day and not a trace of wind…. But we knew the wind was coming.
We skinned through the forest for a bit, until it began to open up on the east ridge. This pic shows the east ridge of Quandary, with Brett on the right.
Views of the ridge and summit.
Me skinning up the ridge.
As we skinned higher and higher the wind picked up more and more. Climbers on their way down warned us about the hurricane-like conditions on the summit. We reached the summit around noon. Despite the howling wind, there was plenty of snow to be found! But the wind was awful. We didn’t stay up there long. But we couldn’t leave without our classic summit photos! Me on the summit , while other climbers try to find shelter. Note that the dog seems rather happy despite the hurricane happening 😉
We were able to ski directly from the summit! But the winds were so incredibly strong that when I put my skis down on the ground, I was afraid a big gust would come up and just blow my skis down the side of the mountain. (Hence no pics). The summit winds won that day!!!
A hundred feet down lower, it was a different world. Here the winds were much more tolerable. Jesse opted to put his splitboard back together here- as you can see him behind me while I ski down the east ridge.
The ridge wasn’t so bad!
Then we cut over to the bowl on the upper east face and found some very nice carvy Styrofoam-like snow, with only a little strastrugi. Near the bottom of the bowl, we traversed back up to the east ridge and followed the ridge down a ways. We followed the east ridge to the next bowl which was northeast facing. Here we found a hidden treasure… recycled powder!!!! We could open it up for a great run. Skiing pics:
Jesse rips the bowl.
Who says it’s hard-packed??? Looks like powder to me!!!!!
These pics say it looks pretty good…
At the bottom of this bowl we followed a NE facing gully which was full of fluffy powder meadows like this one.
We milked it for all it was worth and followed the gully down to the dirt road. But the conditions in the gladed areas and meadows were a bit interesting at times. I am sure many of Colorado’s backcountry skiers have seen these conditions lately- very unconsolidated sugary snow which may or may not support your weight as you ski. Brett was ripping turns through this meadow and suddenly his skis just sank to the ground!
At the bottom of the meadow shown above we reached a road which we followed back to the trailhead. Jesse showed us his splitboarding steeze when he decided to “ski” down the road in true Texas style 😀
It was a good way to end a good day. We braved hurricane winds, but found some unexpected nice snow in several places.
Thanks to Brett and Jesse for a good times and an extra-special thanks to Brett for his excellent photog skills!
Looking back, our choice to ski the east side of the mountain down was based on avalanche safety. However, I wouldn’t mind going back to ski the Christo Couloir.
Like this report? See more of Brittany’s 14er skiing journey.