Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  03/16/2009
Modified:  09/18/2014
Date Climbed:   01/15/2007
Author:  benners

 Quandary East Face Snowboard Descent   

Quandary Winter Ski Descent 1.15.07

Route: Ascent of East Ridge, summit ski descent of East Face

Stats: 3,450' hiked, 3,600' skied, 6.75 miles, 7 hours

Crew: Stu (marmotman), benners

So I realize this report is way outdated, its sort of a report I've always thought about writing but never really had access to the photos (until recently). It also has some flashback/reminiscence value to it because it was one of Stu and I's first climbs together and our last climb is coming up here shortly. It was also our first winter summit and first ski descent. This was very early on in both of our quests to bag the 14ers. Enjoy.

We set off early with the intention of skiing (snowboarding for me) the east face of Quandary. I had made it to 13,000' on the east ridge the week before and was beaten back by high winds and blowing snow, so I was eager for the return. Stu had just returned to Colorado from Ohio the previous day and was apprehensive about climbing without really acclimating first, but we decided to give it a go anyway. Fortunately we were only looking at seven miles round trip, not a particularly demanding winter trek.

Our view early on

We started off from the standard TH and made treeline an hour or so later. We had quite a bit of weight on our backs as we were both carrying our entire downhill setups respectively. Splitboards and AT gear had never really entered our minds at this stage so to us, shouldering a heavy and cumbersome load was necessary to ski a 14er.

Stu battles the winds

Takin a breather

We were able to hike the entire ridge without snowshoes, the winds were pretty typical for a winter day in one of the windiest areas in Colorado, so things were pretty well compacted along the route. We made slow progress up the final portion of the ridge, Quandary's east ridge just seems to go forever. Finally it rounded out into the summit and we enjoyed decent weather for a January summit. We topped out sometime in the early afternoon.

Here are some more pics of us hiking the ridge:

Summit views:

After a good while on the top, we skied off the summit down towards the face and found the snow to be windboard with a few pockets of shallow powder. Overall the skiing was terrible for us as we were used to Vail and Copper powder and groomers. What is this crap?!

Skiing the east face:

We skied a hundred or so feet below the ridge and hiked back up to it to continue the descent. There were two hikers that were ascending the ridge when we were out on the face, they can be seen in the pic below. Of course we didn't think of it at the time but it amazes me now that they were the only others we saw all day! Having Quandary virtually to ourselves on a day like this is something I'm glad I got to experience.

Looking back at the ridge, can you spot the two hikers?

Our route looked something like this


Once on the ridge we ran into the infamous Quandary dog as well as a pack of goats, our ride below treeline quickly became a suckfest as the snow dynamic switched from windblown to punchy crust. We eventually made it out after a lot of cursing and snow down our backs, we headed in for an apres ski in Breck after our first winter summit. Ahhh good times . . . thanks for the walk down memory lane.


 Comments or Questions

Only once every three years....
02/05/2011 00:22
Is a winter day on Quandary that beautiful with that few people. It was worth seeing three years late. I don't think I've been on Quandary with a group of goats. They're beautiful in their winter white. Who‘s moving away, you or marmotman?


11/30/2010 17:28
Tell me about it! Of course we would never have appreciated it at the time but looking back I feel blessed to have had Quandary to myself like this. Stu is the one Ohio of all places. I'm not sure how he's coping with it but that's gotta be tough on the guy, Colorado to Ohio is no easy prospect.

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