Peak(s):  Fletcher Mtn  -  13,951 feet
Date Posted:  03/22/2021
Date Climbed:   03/19/2021
Author:  druid2112
 Solo Fletcher Snowflake   

Where did the winter go? I'd somehow let calendar winter nearly lapse, with no snowflakes to show for it. That seemed like a good enough excuse to take a Friday off from work.

Being only 8.5 miles or so roundtrip, I didn't feel the need to start crazy early, so at 0730 off I went from the Quandary parking lot. I realized 10 minutes later, upon reaching the end of the plowed section of the road, that there seemed to be room for a couple cars to park. I had suspected as much, but considering there have been some issues with people parking along this road in the past, I figured the Quandary parking lot was my best bet.

About 90 minutes later I reached the remnants of the cabin and got my first shot of Fletcher's summit. There was more wind than I expected, but it wasn't anything major. Around the upper lake I think there are a few wind tunnels that are pretty steady, regardless of forecast.

First Peek

I cruised the mostly flat basin until I reached the headwall. There was a good deal of snow, but it was very firm. I would not have wanted to be without flotation, however.

I found a rock near the base of the incline, out of the wind, and enjoyed a little breakfast break in the sunshine.

Breakfast View

A few minutes later, it was up and around the steepest section, still in snowshoes. I would end up wearing the clown shoes all the way until the final summit push.

Tracks up Lower Headwall (taken on return)

Reaching the upper part of the basin, I saw the upper headwall and realized I didn't need to go all the way to the right like the summer route specifies. Instead, I was able to stay to the left a little and made quick work of the penultimate steep section.

Tracks on Upper Headwall (taken on return)

Once on the plateau, I had the money view of the summit pyramid.

Fletcher's Summit

I planned to reach the pile of rocks just before the start of the steeper pitch for my wardrobe change. Once there I realized I had chosen the heart of a nice wind tunnel as my stopping point. The long fetch across that plateau from Drift to where I stood channeled a strong wind over the saddle between Fletcher and the start of Quandary's west ridge. Not ideal, so I decided to forgo crampons (overkill, anyway) and just throw microspikes on. I left the bag and poles and shoes all ready to grab on my way back, and took the axe and headed up.

Partway up I wondered if I should have just stuck with snowshoes, as I was occasionally up to my hip. But all in all, boots (spikes didn't really matter) and the axe were the easiest way up the final pitch. It was fairly messy, but nothing major. I had no idea what kind of cornice there might be, so stayed well left of the ridge.

I reached the summit about 4 hours after leaving the trailhead. That seemed slow for what I usually do, but who knows? This was my first climb since turning the big 5-0, so maybe I'm just old and slow now. Or maybe I just didn't bust it since it was a beautiful day.

Quandary's West Ridge

The trip down was uneventful (come to think of it, the whole climb was - which is a good thing), and I was in the sun the whole way back to the car. Not the most exciting report, but perhaps it'll provide a little help to someone in the winters to come.

Headed Home

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Wise owl
03/23/2021 07:33
Older and wiser as you turn the 5.O. Congrats!
Remarkable how mountains change day to day and you captured this gentle winter climb beautifully. Like you I battled with gear and route selection but am still uncertain which way is better. What do you think now? Unlike you I started much later and got slapped around by Mother Nature. You chose wisely. Pretty pictures. Thank you for sharing!


Nice report
04/08/2021 17:29
Fletcher is a fun peak in the summer, and your report and photos make it look like fun year-round. Did you consider adding Drift (easy for me to say from the comfort of my living room), or was that not on your radar?

Also, congrats on the milestone birthday. It's about time you joined a bunch of us 'experienced' members on the other side of the hill.


04/12/2021 11:09
Honestly, I didn't really consider Drift. No particular reason, just intending for this climb to be a shorter day than some. And thanks, I hope to stay on this side of the hill for a while...

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