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avalanche danger on Quandray?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby erickenney » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:12 pm

Wondering if anyone has a good sense of avalanche danger on Quandary with the recent snow fall?
I was thinking the west ridge.
never been up there before.

thanks.

Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:13 pm

If you are unfamiliar with the West Ridge of Quandary, I would highly advise against it in the snow and ice.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby RamanDestroyer » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:52 pm

I second Pricks opinion. The west ridge is no joke when it's dry, if icy... well, you're in for a challange. You might face elevated avi danger coming up the valley to the TH and for the first couple miles until you get up on the ridge you will be riding up to the summit.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby erickenney » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:03 pm

thanks.
i'm not so much worried about the rout it self. just dont' want to get up there and have to turn back.
do you guys think the standard rout would be better, in terms of avalanche risk?

thanks for the beta.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:16 pm

You should always be willing to turn back, evaluate the conditions for yourself and make decisions based upon your observations and experience, not off of message boards on the web. Both the west ridge and the east ridge of Quandary have significant potential avalanche terrain, especially if you've never been up before. It's one of the reasons that Quandary sees so few winter ascents. I would highly advise staying off this mountain entirely.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby erickenney » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:01 pm

yes of course i am willing to turn back and make good assessments in the field.
just trying to decide if i should attempt quandary or do something on the front range.

thanks for the help. appreciate it.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby vdavidoff » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:11 pm

SchralpTheGnar wrote:You should always be willing to turn back, evaluate the conditions for yourself and make decisions based upon your observations and experience, not off of message boards on the web. Both the west ridge and the east ridge of Quandary have significant potential avalanche terrain, especially if you've never been up before. It's one of the reasons that Quandary sees so few winter ascents. I would highly advise staying off this mountain entirely.


I'm currently considering a winter ascent of Quandary's East Ridge. First off let me say I totally agree with what you said above, regarding making your own decisions, being able to read the terrain (and understand your own experience level), and being willing to turn back.

From the topo maps and relief shading at caltopo.com, it looks to me like staying on the top of the East Ridge and not venturing to the south side of it, at all, and erring on the north side of the ridge (if erring at all) would be the path to take to avoid avalanche terrain. Would you, or anyone else, agree with this assessment? And just to be clear, I'm not asking you or anyone else to tell me that what I have described will keep a person safe from avalanches. Obviously there's much more to it than that. I'm just interested to know if I'm interpreting the terrain correctly.

Thanks.
Andy

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby erickenney » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:23 pm

yeah i would agree.
the wind has been out of the south west so my thought is the west and south slops might be fairly clear with
lots of drift on the east an north.
but then again maybe not.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby madbuck » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:28 pm

vdavidoff wrote:
SchralpTheGnar wrote:You should always be willing to turn back, evaluate the conditions for yourself and make decisions based upon your observations and experience, not off of message boards on the web. Both the west ridge and the east ridge of Quandary have significant potential avalanche terrain, especially if you've never been up before. It's one of the reasons that Quandary sees so few winter ascents. I would highly advise staying off this mountain entirely.


I'm currently considering a winter ascent of Quandary's East Ridge. First off let me say I totally agree with what you said above, regarding making your own decisions, being able to read the terrain (and understand your own experience level), and being willing to turn back.

From the topo maps and relief shading at caltopo.com, it looks to me like staying on the top of the East Ridge and not venturing to the south side of it, at all, and erring on the north side of the ridge (if erring at all) would be the path to take to avoid avalanche terrain. Would you, or anyone else, agree with this assessment? And just to be clear, I'm not asking you or anyone else to tell me that what I have described will keep a person safe from avalanches. Obviously there's much more to it than that. I'm just interested to know if I'm interpreting the terrain correctly.

Thanks.
Andy


You covered most of your own personal responsibility risks, and there's always a risk to recommend something to someone...in general, a big slide could take out an otherwise "safe" ridge, and you want to be careful of cornices and other hazards...the CAIC risk is still Considerable on East aspects at and above treeline.

That said, I haven't been up there this year but have skied it before (with a "Moderate" risk), and esp. waiting til the avalanche risk is lessened, I generally agree with your assessment of the terrain. And it is a somewhat popular (relative to others) winter-conditions route that, AFAIK, hasn't had an avalanche accident that impacted somebody sticking only to the East Ridge route.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:35 pm

madbuck wrote:hasn't had an avalanche accident that impacted somebody sticking only to the East Ridge route.

There was an avalanche death there in 1999, where a guy apparently triggered a slide from the top of a gulley on the south side of the east ridge.
https://avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_co.php?accident=19991221

Be careful crossing the tops of the gullies that lead down the south face, and if you climb the west ridge you probably shouldn't descend Cristo Couloir this time of year. Here's a fatal accident that happened there in March 2005.
https://avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_co.php?accident=20050324
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby madbuck » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:53 pm

Jim Davies wrote:
madbuck wrote:hasn't had an avalanche accident that impacted somebody sticking only to the East Ridge route.

There was an avalanche death there in 1999, where a guy apparently triggered a slide from the top of a gulley on the south side of the east ridge.
https://avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_co.php?accident=19991221

Be careful crossing the tops of the gullies that lead down the south face, and if you climb the west ridge you probably shouldn't descend Cristo Couloir this time of year. Here's a fatal accident that happened there in March 2005.
https://avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_co.php?accident=20050324


I had looked at those reports before going up previously in Winter and mentally noted that as a hazard off of the actual route.
Staying on-route, the generally cautious CAIC report still notes:
Even during periods of significant avalanche danger, the route can be followed with out problem with careful route selection.


But it's a good point, Jim, as it doesn't mean it wouldn't have been impossible to trigger from the ridge, and also shows that it's easy to quickly veer off-route and get into trouble.
Though this line of ascent would be off the established route it would not be unreasonable.
The weather on the 21st was nasty with light snow and strong winds, but visibility was okay. That day above treeline ski patrollers around Summit County reported fair visibility. Occasionally brief white-outs lasting a few seconds would obscure visibility, but landmarks along the route would have been visible and easy to follow.
To avoid the wind the victim may have purposely veered off-route to travel in the sheltered lee of the ridge


In that regard, vdavidoff's observation was spot-on about being very careful not to veer south of the ridge.

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Re: avalanche danger on Quandray?

Postby pills2619 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:42 pm

SchralpTheGnar wrote:You should always be willing to turn back, evaluate the conditions for yourself and make decisions based upon your observations and experience, not off of message boards on the web. Both the west ridge and the east ridge of Quandary have significant potential avalanche terrain, especially if you've never been up before. It's one of the reasons that Quandary sees so few winter ascents. I would highly advise staying off this mountain entirely.


I'm a bit confused. I was under the impression that Quandary is a relatively safe mountain to climb in winter. Especially the East ridge. I'm basing this on topography and http://www.summitpost.org/colorado-14ers-in-winter/337648. I have personally never been up there so will someone please enlighten me.

I was thinking about heading up there on Tuesday.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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