Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  03/18/2012
Date Climbed:   03/17/2012
Author:  rtadlock
Additional Members:   jlarocco
 Quandary: Our first ski decent   

I started climbing 14ers a few summers ago when my friend Jeremiah intorduced me to this site and climbed my first 14er with me. Anyway, I look at the site all the time, and get lots of information from it, so I figure it was time to do a report so others could use it to judge conditions and such.

I've been skiing for about 8 years, and switched over to tele 2 seasons ago so I could move into the backcountry. My buddy Jeremiah stared teleing about halfway through the same season I started, and it's been on our list to start skiing 14ers, but we wanted to get some avy training behind us as well as some less "hard core" backcountry, so we didn't end up getting a helo ride off the top.

We've both hiked Quandary before, so we decided we'd give it a go first since we both knew we could climb it, and we had an idea of what the terrian looked like. We also decided we wanted to watch the sun come up from the summit...

Here's our tracks:

We got left the trail head at 4am:

There wasn't much coverage on the trail the first switchback or two, so after skiing up the road, we packed the skis and hiked for a few minutes. We were pretty quickly able to jump back on the skis though:

We were making pretty good time and we popped out of the trees pretty quickly. I didn't actually take note of the time, but I'd guess it was around 5 or 5:15. The snow was pretty slick and at one point we had to make a small traverse off the main trail as the skins weren't holding with ice layer on the snow.

We made it up to the ridge 6:30, and then we decided to just hike the rest of the way up, as the rocks were thick, and the going was slow on the skis. Towards the final push, the sun started to come up:

We didn't quite make the summit before sunrise, but we were only about 30 mins off. Jeremiah could have made it for sure, but I'm a slow climber, and we decided that we don't split up when skiing backcountry.

We made it to the summit around 8ish. Since this was our first ski decent and it was St. Patty's day, we celebrated with a beer:

We hung out on the summit and munched on some snacks and soaked in the sun and the break in the wind for about 30 mins, then we decided to put the skis on and ski off the top:

We didn't get far until we had to start hiking again. We hiked down to the next snow band, and then put the skis back on. I was able to slowly pick my way down all the way to the ridge where I skied the narrow band of snow on the ridge:

Once we got off the ridge, there was some really skiable snow that had just started to soften up. We got some really good turns in:

When we got back to the trees, it was pretty warm, and the show was heavy with a layer of crust on top. Needless to say, it wasn't the best snow to ski on a low coverage day, but we still made decent time back to the truck. All in all, it was a great day and a ton of fun for my first ski decent. I can't wait for the next one!

 Comments or Questions

03/19/2012 13:32
Looks like you guys had a fun day. Quandary was my first as well, it's a fun mountain. Nice Shamans btw.


03/19/2012 14:45
We did have a good time. I was hoping the snow would hold out later into the spring so I could bag a few decents, but it's not looking like the snow is going to stick around very long this year. We may try Sherman next weekend. Also, I love the Shamans! Best skis I've ever shredded on. They'll make you a hero in the powder!


Nice One!
03/20/2012 17:10
I have a question though, what was the snowpack like as far as avy conditions went? I'm thinking about this route with a buddy for tomorrow (Wednesday) and I don't want to get in too far over my head for wet slabs or anything like that.


Avy conditions
03/20/2012 18:03
Always best to check the CAIC the day of:

But we got on the skiable snow by 9am, and the stuff we skied is all pretty much under 30 degrees with very little coverage. I wouldn't make your go/no go call from me though.


03/21/2012 22:58
Great trip report, rtadlock! And, you had an excellent follow-up about the avy conditions - that's good advice for anyone.


Good job!
04/02/2012 20:07
Great writeup with fun pictures! My buddy and I are considering Quandary as our first 14er ski descent and this review really helped our research! Might have to wait until next year though.

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