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Route #4) Quandary Peak - North Gully aka Quandary Couloir  


Difficulty: Class 3, Steep Snow
Ski: Advanced, D11 / R3 / II
Exposure: Moderate exposure along the immediate route. It should be avoidable with some slow hiking or scrambling.
Summit Elev.: 14,265 feet
Trailhead Elev.: 11,100 feet
Elevation Gain: 3,250 feet
RT Length: 5.25 miles
Trailhead: McCullough Gulch
Quad. Maps: Log in to view 
Author: BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated: 2/2014
 
Weather Info: NOAA Link
Condition Reports:  View (164 reports) New Reports
Cell Reception?:  View (13 reports) 
County Sheriff: Summit: 970-453-2232
National Forest:  White River
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Trip Reports (481)
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TH:  

From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9. Turn right (west) on the Blue Lakes 850 Road. Drive a few hundred yards and turn right on the McCullough Gulch 851 Road. Drive 2.1 miles to the end of the road near a gate. Before 2 miles, there is a road junction, stay left on the main road. Park on the side of the road.

Route:

This couloir should be done with adequate snow cover and is not recommended as a summer climb - Photo #1. It‘s located on the north side of Quandary and can only be seen in its entirety from McCullough Gulch. Taken from Mt. Helen (13,164‘), Photo #2 and Photo #3 show the upper portion of the route.

Walk past the gate and follow the old road up to the left. Pass a building after about 1/4 mile and, after almost 1/2 mile, take the marked trail that leaves the left side of the road - Photo #4. Follow the good trail through forest, over a few small log bridges and across a small boulder field - Photo #5. Near 11,600‘, the trail approaches some waterfalls that can be heard beyond the trees. There are social trails that lead to the falls - stay right and continue onto a rocky hill just north of the waterfalls. Hike up through ledges to reach a point where you get a great view of the "Quandary Couloir" - Photo #6. Gain the top of the rocks to reach a small, unnamed lake at 11,900‘ - Photo #7.

From the lake, you can see all of the couloir (Photo #8) and it‘s a good location to carefully assess conditions before committing to the climb. Drop left (east), cross the stream below the lake (Photo #9), and hike over to the large rock/snow apron below the couloir. If you‘re lucky, the entire base will be snow-covered, making it easier to reach the base of the couloir - Photo #10.

Once on the apron, strap on crampons and hike 200‘ to reach steeper terrain - Photo #11. Near 12,400‘, the walls of the couloir begin to close in as you approach the crux of the climb - a 100-foot section of that forms a "choke" in the couloir - Photo #12. Depending on the snow-depth in the choke, the snow may be less than 10 feet wide and the angle of this pitch can range from 40 to 45+ degrees. Carefully climb through the choke to reach easier terrain, above 12,800‘. Photo #13 and Photo #14 look down on the crux.

The next 800‘+ of climbing is straightforward (although not straight) and has a fairly consistent angle - Photo #15, Photo #16 and Photo #17. Near 13,500‘, the couloir turns right and you can finally see the terrain near the top - Photo #18. Follow the middle of the couloir to 13,700‘ where you will likely encounter some rock outcroppings in the center - Photo #19. Turn slightly left and continue up steeper terrain (Photo #20) to reach the top of the couloir - Photo #21, Photo #22, Photo #23 and Photo #24. Turn right (Photo #25) and hike 350‘ to reach the summit - Photo #26.

Notes:   

Near the waterfalls (11,800'), the route can be a bit confusing due to social trails. If you go left to reach the falls, you have left the main trail - stay right and look for a small trail that climbs up through rocky terrain in the forest.

 

Photo #1Photo #2Photo #3Photo #4Photo #5Photo #6Photo #7Photo #8Photo #9Photo #10Photo #11Photo #12Photo #13Photo #14Photo #15Photo #16Photo #17Photo #18Photo #19Photo #20Photo #21Photo #22Photo #23Photo #24Photo #25Photo #26

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