Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  05/11/2009
Modified:  05/13/2009
Date Climbed:   05/10/2009
Author:  Carl
 The snowy west ridge   

Climbed the west ridge of Quandary Sunday May 10, 2009 and descended the Cristo Couloir with my regular partner Marc. He owns no camera that I'm aware of so you'll be seeing a lot of him in this trip report. Anyway, we left the truck about 1/2 mile before the dam (approx 11,400ft) around 7:45am. Could start to see the ridge through the blowing snow at about 9:30am.

Chose to cut to the ridge a little early on some moderately steep snow. 45 to 50 degrees probably. The inclinometer stayed in my pack on this climb so these numbers are guesses. Good snow for climbing though. Left the crampons in our packs too.

Made the ridge at approx 13,300ft around 10am. It's an easy hike along the ridge until about 14,000ft. Marc, who hadn't climbed the route before, was getting worried that the crux would be one quick move. Not the case, especially with the snow. The crux is a series of 3 or 4 down climbs and up climbs along the ridge.
Getting close to the fun.

Pausing to check out the route.

There are a few different options. We chose a short but particularly steep snow climb up the first crux. Marc enjoying the maybe 70 degree pitch.

Me back on mellow snow after 20 feet of the steep stuff.

Working our way around the next tower.

Dealing with some awkward rock moves. Following Marc here I had to remind myself how nice it will be to have these ski boots on once I reach the summit.

I led our way around the last tower, which involved a short downclimb, then a downward traverse back to the saddle before the last tower climb. It's easy to get on some class 4 terrain if you're not searching out the class 3 rock. Looking back here at Marc all stretched out thinking about how he should have switched those mittens out for gloves.

Marc looking down for the next move.

The steep snow in the climb up the last tower was powder. Not very conducive to kicking steeps. Luckily there were a few good holds in the center (after I brushed the snow off) as the exposure here was looking mighty intense.

After that last bit it's a short stroll to the summit. This shot is looking back.

Took us just over 5 hours to reach the summit. Over an hour was spent dealing with the crux section between 14,000ft and 14,150ft. The reward for climbing this thing with ski boots on our feet and boards on our backs is obvious.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice approach!
02/05/2011 00:22
I‘ve always wanted to see photos from the west side. Awesome TR!


Interesting choice
05/12/2009 13:10
Great climb. You guys seem to put together some really interesting climbs and awesome ski‘s. BCDave made me buy a camera last year. Since then all of the good shots are of him...


05/12/2009 14:24
Wow, you guys like it a little spicy, eh? We climbed Cristo and must have summitted an hour or so ahead of you. I can‘t imagine climbing that freakin‘ ridge in those conditions, with 3 inches of new snow no less. You must have been the guys we saw sliding down when we were down on the dam...


11/30/2010 17:28
Nice climb guys. Could you still see tracks in the snow along the West ridge? I did that route a week earlier on the 3rd. Looks like you guys ran into better weather than I did, but not by much. Did your route take you directly to the saddle? I had to cut up a couloir way to the right of it to find good snow to the ridge. Good work! It's a great climb along that ridge! The snow along it makes for some interesting route finding, lol.

P.S. Crampons make that ridge work a lot easier. Hats off to you guys for not using em from what I saw... and I thought I was crazy. j/k.


05/12/2009 15:56
Looks like you took an interesting line to reach the lower West Ridge! Always a fun climb when there‘s snow.


05/12/2009 16:23
carl, that looks pretty damn exposed, that shot looking down on Marc is somethin else. Maybe one of these days we‘ll get some blue skies on the weekends for these outings.


Agreed with Brian
05/13/2009 10:40
That looks like some nice exposure and a fun scramble. Nice report!


Nice route, nice report!
05/13/2009 14:44
Next time could you pick a sunny day, so we can see the scenery in the background?


05/02/2011 14:23
Keith, we saw a group exit Cristo while we were sitting on the summit, probably you guys. Weather finally opened as we finished the climb. Not a bad day though huh.

Knight, we may have taken the same path you did. Even Marc‘s tracks made a minute prior were hardly visible with the wind ripping that snow across the ridge. Taking the crampons out of my pack never actually crossed my mind. Didn‘t want to end up with any holes in my new pants anyway

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