14ers.com 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 #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 Elevation: 14,265 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 11,100 feet
Elevation Gain:3,250 feet
Round-trip Length: 5.25 miles
Trailhead: McCullough Gulch
USGS Quad.: Breckenridge
County Sheriff: Summit: 970-453-2232
National Forest:  White River
Author: BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated: 11/2014
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.

Topo map: (Not Displayed, click here to change your settings)

Route Photos: (Did you know?)
Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11 Photo #12 Photo #13 Photo #14 Photo #15 Photo #16 Photo #17 Photo #18 Photo #19 Photo #20 Photo #21 Photo #22 Photo #23 Photo #24 Photo #25 Photo #26



Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.
© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.