| Quandary Peak East Ridge
Back in April, got an email from a friend that a friend of his wanted to come up from Texas and learn some snow climbing skills, and possibly put them to use. So on Saturday we went with the group up to St. Mary's glacier, and practicee the necessary skills. And Sunday, they got to put them to use, and I took the opportunity to get in my first ski descent(!).
We met up at the Quandary trailhead at 7 AM, inspired by the beautiful views above us:
But we couldn't just stand around and admire it, we were there to climb it, so we headed on up the East Ridge trail. It was a bit cooler than the day before, probably in the teens when we started (although the sun warmed us up nicely). Definitely was a cool, clear night, as evidenced by the surface hoar present on the snow surface below treeline.
Snow was solid, and microspikes did us just fine hiking up. For anyone planning on hiking up and down, I'd definitely recommend hiking up with microspikes, and stashing snowshoes at treeline for the trip down. Snow quality definitely changed at treeline.
The moon was nice enough to grace us with its presence for the first little bit (Nick and Wade are hiding behind the trees):
The East Ridge route certainly had plenty of snow on it, there was the occasional rock poking through, but they were easily avoidable.
Was certainly inspiring when we got to where we could see the summit:
Only ~1200' to go!
On the upper section of the East ridge (up from the flat spot), the lower half caught more wind coming around the South side of the mountain, which made for some exciting snow devils. At least they gave you fair warning:
The view back during one of these:
Finally we made it up to the summit!
Here's Nick looking appropriately tired on his 5th 14er summit:
And Wade, with the Lincoln group in the background (on his 1st 14er!):
Careful with those things!
All three of us, taken by some of the nice skiers on the summit:
And my obligatory captain's pose:
And some nice photos of the axes:
The other skiers that were on the summit at the same time started off on the more ambitious line on the North side of the upper bowl:
If you were going to exit off the North side of the mountain like they did, it's a great line (I think they ended up at the McCullough Gulch trailhead). A couple other folks started off that way, and got in 4 or 5 turns before they had to start traversing to stay above the bare rock on the flat spot:
Speaking of the flat stretch, it had a nice cornice built up on it:
Past that, it was a pretty uneventful descent. Lots of nice low angle turns below treeline, then a nice luge run down the trail. In case you were wondering, the 'summer' trailhead is definitely inaccessible by car (so you add a couple hundred feet on the road):
And one more shot of the upper East face, just to whet your appetite (If you squint just right you can see the turns they other folks got in):
Definitely great conditions to ski in, I was able to keep skis on from summit to trailhead. There was one 10 ft rock band that I was barely able to pick through, and it was tricky getting down the last 10 ft from the trail onto the road, but besides that it was beautiful. Hope you get to enjoy it as much as we did!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):