Currently, our beloved site has 9,823 trip reports. Quandary alone accounts for 419 of those - the most reported on mountain in the state. In fact, sometimes I even wonder if this is not the most well documented peak in the entire world. It sounds silly, but where else I wonder, gets more traffic and reports completed on it? It is an interesting thought.
Also interesting to me is just how many of the TR titles contain the words "East Ridge" and/or "My First". Easy access, central proximity, and a straightforward & safe route make this the perfect place for all kinds of firsts. In many ways, it is a blessing to have a peak like this. I will be the first to admit a certain degree of disdain for the crowds and endless summer TRs, but few other places offer such a forgiving (as far as mountains go) and attractive choice for an easy day out. Love it or hate it, I think it is fair to say that Quandary fulfills a unique role in Colorado climbing.
This is especially true in the winter time. The East Ridge is dream for a simple winter summit. Again, the access, distance, and relative safety make it a fine choice. I had the chance to guide a few good friends up the route this week. This was a first winter ascent for both of them, as well as the first 14er for Luke. We were blessed to have a fine day and spend some quality time together on this Colorado classic. This TR is is mainly a chance to to share some of the shots and document our experience. I know I will not be able to reinvent the wheel here, but hopefully some of the photos are worth sharing.
Heavy snowfall the weekend prior were a distant memory as we saddled up at the TH around 6:00. Three bluebird days in a row and a very warm morning foreshadowed a great day to come. With the big storm of this weekend moving in that evening, I knew we hit a perfect window to get out.
Unsurprisingly, the deep snows earlier in the week did not much affect the trench through the trees. While we had the peak to ourselves all day, it did look like the trail had seen some traffic earlier in the week. The snowshoeing was quick and painless to tree line. We enjoyed the warm temps offset by clouds overhead and only a light breeze - a perfect start to the day.
A cloudy day mixing well with the sunrise alpenglow over Hoosier Ridge.
Sad to say that I did not get a great shot of the slope just beyond the trees - it must have just slipped my mind. However, we followed well placed tracks up the right (diverting from the summer route) and easily gained pt. 12,100. This seemed by far the safest and most obvious option. The lower East Bowl, however, looked somewhat suspect given all the new snow and its East aspect. I can only imagine the 7-10 ish inches from this last storm have only loaded it further. See the end of the TR for a few beta shots.
Breaking the trees and climbing under the clouds.
The task ahead.
Towards Northstar and Lincoln group.
The ubiquitous Grays & Torreys.
A light breeze accompanied us all the way to 13,000 feet. Between this and the cloud cover, things were getting a bit chilly as we ascended higher. However, just beneath the final pitch we were lucky as the clouds broke for the next few hours, making the final push to the summit all the more enjoyable.
A warm welcome from the sun.
Summit ridge in view.
The final walk of a fine first winter summit.
We topped out in just over 4 hours - a great time for these fellas on their first winter peak. The top was a real blessing as the sun stayed out and the wind was calm. For all the strong opinions of Quandary and the Tenmile Range, there is no denying the amazing views. Couple that with being completely alone for the day (a rarity here) and we could not have asked for a better summit.
Drinking it all in.
Elks & Sawatch.
Pacific & Gores.
Unsurprisingly, the trip down was over in a flash - 1:30 had us back to the cars just in time as the snow began to fall. All in all a fantastic Colorado day. Thanks to Luke and Jesse for letting me drag them up this thing. Here's to many more to come!
And many thanks for looking through the shots everyone. Happy climbing!
I have added just a few beta shots for anyone interested. Again, these are now somewhat dated as of the latest storm, but at least it hopefully gives some idea of coverage.
Best beta shots I have of the lower East bowl...
...apologies as I know they are not super helpful.
The upper East bowl. I suppose you could put together a line, and I can only imagine the new snow helped with this.
North face of Democrat & the rest of the Lincoln group.