Climbing 14ers can be very dangerous, please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively, without the help of electronic devices.
Route #3) Quandary Peak - West Ridge
From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9. On a sharp corner of Colorado 9, turn west onto the 850 road (Blue Lakes road). It is 2 miles to the trailhead below the dam. Continue on Blue Lakes road as it climbs west. After 1.2 miles, keep right. After 1.4 miles, keep right again. By early June, the road is usually open to the dam. If not, drive as far as possible and hike the remainder of the road. There is a large parking area below the dam.
WARNING! It may be Quandary Peak, but this route is no joke. It requires plenty of time, good weather, supplies and solid Class 3 climbing skills. Once you get on the Class 3 section, retreat is difficult and people have gotten lost or put themselves in serious danger trying to exit before the summit.
From the dam area, Quandary is to the north but the West Ridge is not visible. Taken from North Star Mountain, Photo #1 is a high-angle view of Quandary and the route leaving the dam. Climb up to the dam and drop down from the right side to find a trail. There are a couple of small trails that lead up from the lake but your goal is to climb briefly to a larger trail that heads west toward the basin. Photo #2 shows some of the trail. Once you reach the main trail, traverse west across the slope. Near 12,100', the trail angles northwest as it leads to the basin. Continue to the center of the basin near some mine remnants. From here, Photo #3 shows much of the basin and the remaining hike to reach the West Ridge.
Taken near 12,300', Photo #4 shows the view ahead. Continue north through the basin on a small trail that parallels a stream and locate a steep slope to the northwest. Without snow, there is a large rust-colored stain down the center of the gully - Photo #5. Climb the left side of the gully on loose rock. On the plateau above the gully turn right and hike north across large boulders, following cairns when you can find them. Pass under snowfields near 12,800' and continue toward the end of the basin - Photo #6. Quandary's West Ridge is up ahead on the right. Stay on the left side of the basin and hike north all the way to the end where there may be snowfields up to your left. Look directly north up at the ridge to find a large bump on the left end. You do not have to climb to the left side of the bump. Continue north and then northeast to the slope below the ridge, and ascend to the large rocks on the side of the slope - Photo #7. From 13,200', follow faint trail segments that turn left and climb up through the rocks to reach a notch near 13,400' on the West Ridge.
Turn right and the start hiking east up the ridge - Photo #8. There are rock outcroppings along the ridge, but more than the first ½ is Class 2 hiking on relatively stable rock. Photo #9 and Photo #10 are views of the ridge, taken from Fletcher Mountain. Below 13,600', the trail stays mostly on the right (south) side of the ridge - Photo #11. Continue over several bumps to reach a point where the ridge becomes steeper - Photo #12. Hike along the ridge for a bit, and near 13,800', turn left and ascend the side of the ridge up to 14,000' - Photo #13. After reaching the top of a false summit, the more technical terrain comes into view. Photo #14 shows an easy Class 3 "bump". Climb this rock to reach a couple of rugged points overlooking another bump on the ridge - Photo #15. Drop again and climb a dirt gully (Photo #16) to overcome this large obstacle. The route gets a bit more technical after this point.
The next major obstacle is a small wall with a large crack in the center - Photo #17. Drop down about 20 feet and climb the Class 3 rock near the crack. From the ridge crest, the crux of the route is now in full view - Photo #18. A large wall blocks easy passage to the summit. There are several ways to climb over the wall, but first you must descend from your current location. Turn right and down climb the south side of the ridge near some stable white rock, turn left, and walk over to the low point below the crux wall. It's easy to exceed Class 3 climbing in the crux area, so pick your line carefully. The easiest way may be to climb up the center of the wall, as seen in Photo #18. The lower ½ is fairly straightforward, but you are soon faced with steep rock and no easy way through. Pick your line and carefully gain the top of the crux. Photo #19 looks back at the previous point from the top of the crux wall. Hike 0.1 mile over to the top.
Don't be fooled - this route requires Class 3 climbing and some careful route finding in the crux area. Loose rock on the upper ridge also makes this route somewhat dangerous.
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