| Q - West Ridge FUN
This climb was very exciting!
James, Jared and I took a total of 2 cars so we could park one at the East Ridge parking lot (for the hike down), and then piled into my wife's Outback to head over to the dam. We started off at 6:45am on the hike. The sun was just starting to shine some light – perfect timing!
The initial trail wasn't much of a trail, and was a bit of up-and-down on talus, but it was the most fun in the beginning of a 14er that I've had yet.
This route was amazing for several reasons. Jared pointed out one reason along the hike when he said, "It's so beautiful being out here with the mountains surrounding us." It's a magical feeling being away from the crowds and closed in with peaks. And the West Ridge looks spectacular when it comes into view!
I needed to get my kung fu action in for the day, so James held some of the mining remnants for me to break:
Haha just kidding! If you look closely, those are different boards. We have more respect for the mining "artifacts" than that
After the easy stroll through the basin, we came to the rust-colored gully that we read about. But, Jared and I decided to have a mini-adventure and climb some more interesting-looking rock to the right, which still brought us to the same destination:
Gorgeous lakes on your way up to the Ridge:
So now, I thought I remembered reading the trip details correctly when I suggested that we go up the gully straight to the notch on the ridge. But James and Jared were both agreeing that we should follow the path to the left of the notch and that it'll connect to it on a much easier route. Being stubborn (and refusing to read the printout I had in my pack), I separated and went up the gully. About halfway up I looked over at my 2 buddies enjoying the hike up to the ridge, and immediately realized they were right about the path being easier:
Ah, the RIDGE!! This is where it got very exciting for me, and it will for you too. The view is fantastic the whole way to the summit from here, and the ridge starts off easy and gets more and more challenging as you progress, like a video game.
As soon as you get to this notch, the fun kicks in!
Head up through the low point and over to the left (north) side of the ridge here:
Hike up some steep parts and avoid some towers along the way as the difficulty is slightly increasing:
And now the first big fun scramble! We went slow, as it's steep enough where you must be sure to hold on to firm, embedded rock and avoid loose scree (This was about the same difficulty as that gully I went up earlier):
The exposure starts getting more intense after this first scramble, but as long as you pick your line carefully and take the safest route, it's not a problem and makes for cool pictures:
The summit is in clear view, but the 2 real climbing obstacles still need to be conquered.
When we got here, I was a bit stumped, but all you do is go through this little notch to an obvious path on the other side:
The cracked wall was a little awkward, but discovering the best way up made it very enjoyable.
And now, we got the SWEET view of the final wall! And for me, downclimbing to the saddle was actually the hardest part of the whole route, as opposed to climbing up the final wall.
We took our time and made it safely down.
James downclimbing to the saddle/base of the final wall.
And now, the excitement came to a climax and we attacked the big mama wall:
WE DID IT!!
Now for the victory walk over to the summit:
I bet we felt more victorious on the summit than anyone else (they all came up the standard route, and we didn't ever see other people on the West Ridge route that day)! We celebrated & ate on the summit for 15 minutes, from 11:30-11:45.
And we could barely see our car from the top of Quandary, along with several others by now (probably enjoying the lake):
Ah, the super-easy walk down to James' car.
We felt like geniuses for parking one car at each trail head so we wouldn't have to hike the 2 miles around to the dam! But then James remembered that his keys were in THE OUTBACK.
But luckily, when we arrived down to James' car at the East Ridge trailhead at 1:30, we were able to get a ride from a nice lady over to the dam, take my car back to James' car, and the rest was history.
I HIGHLY recommend this route for several reasons: it's relatively close to Denver and more of a climb than most other 14ers in that proximity. It only took us 6 hours and 45 minutes round-trip. You get to enjoy the freedom of the hills in isolation from crowds. And of course: it's a MUCH more beautiful route than the standard one. But it'll make you earn it!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):