pills2619 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 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.
I'll try to enlighten you. The 1st two sentences of Schralp's post are right on. I don't agree with
the rest, esp. the part about so few winter ascents on Quandary (just look at all of the winter
trip reports on this site).
The east ridge is avalanche safe IF you stay on route. As others have mentioned, getting off
route to the south can be very bad. There is also avalanche danger in the bowls to the north
of the east ridge. So, one of the main things to evaluate is whether or not you can stay on
route? In nice sunny conditions this is easy. In a whiteout, or after dark, maybe not. So I
would suggest evaluating the weather conditions carefully, and having a turnaround time so that
you don't get caught up high after dark.
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No route is completely avy-safe, Quandary's east ridge included. That said, it would take some freakishly bad conditions for the avy danger to be high enough to be seriously concerned about it. To be honest, I thought the most likely portions to slide on the east ridge route were near tree-line, as there's a good accumulation of snow and the slope is steep enough. Once you get to the ridge proper, it's usually pretty wind scoured.
Now that may not be true depending on when you do it, but that was my experience, and based on what the snow has been like in January, and what it looked like in December, I'd say you're probably fine. But you are always responsible for yourself. No amount of forum "expertise", will help you on the side of a mountain if you get caught in an avalanche.
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