Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  10/02/2006
Date Climbed:   10/01/2006
Author:  native_mntguy

 First snowy summit via Quandary‘s east ridge  

Finally having a nice weekend I decided on doing Quandary's east ridge to get a taste of a semi winter climb after the 2-3 feet that fell a week earlier in the Tenmile range. I got started late and didn't hit the trail until 8:15 AM. It was a beautiful morning with all the snow-capped peaks. The trail was mostly free of snow in the trees; luckily the mud was frozen heading up. Once I got out of the trees, the trail was completely free of snow until about 12,600ft.

A view of the ridge at the tree line

At this point the trail was intermittently covered with patches of snow until around 13,100ft.

Trail at about 12600ft

The trail at this point was completely free of snow. At this point it became windy and the sun went behind the clouds making it very chilly. I also met several other guys at this point and we ended up climbing the rest of the way together. It was right after this that we saw a mountain goat next to some hikers ahead of us as he ran off the ridge and down the south side.

Toughest part of the trail with the ice and snow

At around 13,500ft, the trail started to become more difficult. While the trail was visible, most places it was slick packed snow or in some places very icy. Some times it was easier and safer to take the path less traveled. Finally after carefully navigating the talus and ice, the snowfield was intact at around 14000ft. This was actually a relief and the snow was crusted over allowing us to easily walk on top of it.

Snow field just before the summit.

At 11:15, we make it to the summit. The wind was blowing very hard which kept it very chilly. Definitely my coldest summit experience yet. Luckily just then the sun decided to break free of the clouds allowing us to enjoy the warmth (as long as we were out of the wind).

Looking at Lincoln, Bross, and Democrat from the summit.


Mt Massive to the west.

The view was remarkable that day, which makes this my favorite summit to date. With the wind howling we decided to head back down at around 11:40. This time taking the path less traveled was definitely the best after we continuously kept slipping. Trekking poles definitely would have helped on the descent. Once we got out of the icy portion of the trail, I really pushed it as I was meeting a buddy in keystone that afternoon. So I left the group to get down faster. I had no problems until I got back to tree line where the frozen mud was now a muddy mess, but most of the snow was gone from the trail. Made it back to the truck at 2:15 and headed to Keystone.

I had to take this shot of Grays and Torreys between the trees

The weather was great for experiencing my first 14ner through the snow, although I could have done without all the wind.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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