Quandary Peak - West Ridge
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
It may be Quandary Peak, but this route is no joke. It requires plenty of time, good weather, supplies and solid Class 3 climbing skills. Once you get on the Class 3 section, retreat is difficult and people have gotten lost or put themselves in serious danger trying to exit before the summit.
|Difficulty:|| Class 3 |
|Total Gain:||2,650 feet|
|RT Length:||4.00 miles|
|County Sheriff:||Summit: 970-453-2232
|National Forest:||White River|
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). It is 2 miles to the trailhead below the dam. Continue on Blue Lakes road as it climbs west. After 1.2 miles, keep right. After 1.4 miles, keep right again. By early June, the road is usually open to the dam. If not, drive as far as possible and hike the remainder of the road. There is a large parking area below the dam.
From the dam area, Quandary is to the north but the west ridge is not visible. Taken from North Star Mountain, Photo #1 is a high-angle view of Quandary and the route leaving the dam. Climb up to the dam and drop down from the right side to find a trail. There are a couple of small trails that lead up from the lake but your goal is to climb briefly to a larger trail that heads west toward the basin. Photo #2 shows some of the trail. Once you reach the main trail, traverse west across the slope. Near 12,100', the trail angles northwest as it leads to the basin. Continue to the center of the basin near some mine remnants. From here, Photo #3 shows much of the basin and the remaining hike to reach the west ridge.
Taken near 12,300', Photo #4 shows the view ahead. Continue north through the basin on a trail along a stream and locate a gully to the northwest - Photo #5. Climb the left side of the gully, turn right and continue north on talus toward the end of the basin - Photo #6. Quandary's west ridge is up to your right, but avoid the temptation to climb directly to the ridge. Stay on the left side of the basin and, near 13,100', turn left (west) to exit the basin by ascending rock slabs and possibly some snow fields. Near 13,300', turn right (Photo #7) and traverse across a bump to gain the west ridge, just below 13,400'.
Begin hiking east, on or along the ridge crest - Photo #8. Photo #9 and Photo #10 are views of the ridge, taken from Fletcher Mountain. Below 13,600', easiest passage is mostly on the right side of the ridge - Photo #11. Continue past several bumps and the ridge starts to steepen - Photo #12. Near 13,800', turn left and follow a trail (Photo #13) which ascends left, away from the ridge but eventually regains the ridge, near 14,000'. Once back on the ridge, scramble over or around some bumps (Photo #14 and Photo #15) and continue along the ridge to a large point which has a steep, dirt gully. Drop into a notch and climb the dirt gully (Photo #16) to regain the ridge crest.
Continue scrambling along the ridge to reach a small wall with a vertical crack - Photo #17. Drop a bit and climb Class 3 rock near the crack. Once back on the ridge crest, the crux of the route soon comes into view - a wall which blocks easy passage to the summit - Photo #18. First, downclimb the south (right) side of the ridge near some white rock and then turn left to reach the base of the wall. The easiest way up is to climb the center of the wall, as seen in Photo #18. The lower portion is fairly straightforward, but you're soon faced with steep rock and no easy way through. Pick your line and regain the ridge. Taken from the top of the crux, Photo #19 looks back along the ridge. The show is over - continue 0.1 mile over to the summit - Photo #20.
This route requires solid Class 3 climbing skills and careful route finding.
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