Quandary Peak

snow South Gully aka Cristo Couloir
Difficulty Difficult Class 2 
Snow Steepness: Moderate 
Ski/Board: Advanced, D9 / R3 / II  
Risk FactorsExposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Low  
TrailheadBlue Lakes
Start11,700 feet
Summit14,272 feet
Total Gain2,575 feet
RT Length2.00 miles
SheriffSummit: 970-453-2232
Last UpdatedApr 2023
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This route should only be climbed with consolidated snow, in spring or early summer. Climbing this route in mid-winter could put you in deadly avalanche conditions.


The summer parking permit/shuttle system that is in place for the main Quandary Peak trailhead does NOT include the road to Blue Lakes. Hopefully we will continue to have free, unreserved access to this area. Also, it appears Colorado Springs Utilities, who owns the dam, has recently gated the road 3/4 mile below the dam. If it is closed, there's still parking near the gate.
From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9. On a sharp corner of Colorado 9, turn west onto the 850 road (Blue Lakes road). Continue on Blue Lakes road as it climbs west. Near 1.4 miles, if the gate is closed, you'll have to park in this area because Colorado Springs Utilities has closed the remaining road to the dam. Follow the road another 3/4 mile to reach the dam.


The south gully (aka Cristo Couloir) is recommended for snow climbing/skiing but can also be used as a descent after climbing the west ridge route. It's a easy to access snow line that's quite popular in spring and early summer - 1 and 2. From the parking area, climb to the pavement on top of the Blue Lakes dam - 3 and 4. Slip around the fence on the north end and walk west a short distance. Turn right and ascend 200 feet of rock and bushes to reach an open area where you can see all of Cristo - 5.

Enter the gully and ascend snow in the center or rocky terrain on the left side - 6 and 7. Above 13,200', the gully widens as you approach steeper terrain - 8 and 9. The steepest section, nearly 40 degrees, is between 13,500' and 13,800' - 10 and 11. At 13,900', angle right (east) and choose your line to the summit - 12, 13 and 14.


Ski pics: 15, 16 and 17


#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17

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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.
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