Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Clinton Pk  -  13,857 feet
"Drift Pk"  -  13,900 feet
Fletcher Mtn  -  13,951 feet
Wheeler Mtn  -  13,690 feet
Traver Pk  -  13,852 feet
McNamee Pk  -  13,780 feet
Date Posted:  06/15/2020
Date Climbed:   09/10/2019
Author:  maxhikes14ers
 The Quandocrat Traverse (Video TR): Quandary to Democrat  

At the end of last summer, I wanted to do one more big adventure before I left for college. Since I was a kid, I always thought it would be fun to link Quandary and Democrat via the connecting ridge, and thought this would be a great time to try it. Turns out, it's a pretty cool traverse. The ridge is almost 8 miles long, and tags 6 other mountains along the way (two are centennials!). There's also plenty of fun scrambling to keep you on your toes, my favorite part! I was stoked to have Andrew Hamilton join me, can't ask for a better partner for a challenge like this! I finally got around to editing a quick little film about the adventure.

BETA: We dropped a car off at kite lake, then carpooled over to the Quandary trailhead. We chose to go north to south, since the crux (1.5 mile segment from Drift to Wheeler) is closer to Quandary and we wanted to hit it fresh/early. Although going in the other direction would probably not be much different (Wheeler to Democrat is pretty easy/quick). After the east ridge of Quandary, the route then descends the West Ridge. A nice but long slope puts you on Fletcher Mountain (a centennial). Fletcher to Drift is actually the technical crux but it is short, and comes in the form of down climbing about 15-20 feet of steep 5.5ish terrain into a notch. The next 1.5 miles felt like the real crux. It consists of an endless sea of towers and spines. With careful route finding, you can keep it at class 4 (maybe even 3), but it often involves skirting the towers to the west. Staying directly on the ridge has a few 5.7ish sections. Once on Wheeler, there is an option to bail down Hoosier Ridge, but the remainder is not too bad. The ridge to Clinton (another centennial), and continuing on to Mcnamee and Traver is pretty smooth and doesn't gain or loose much altitude. The final obstacle is Democrats North Ridge. The class 3 scrambling is not the hard part though, the saddle here is the lowest on the traverse, meaning you need to gain almost 1000 vert to summit Democrat. If you like long ridge traverses with lots of scrambling, this is a fun way to explore this area and tag some centennials/ other 13ers along the way!

I don't remember exact splits but here's what I think: 1.5 hours up Quandary, 1 hour toFletcher, 30 min to Drift, 2.5 hours over to Wheeler, then just under 3 hours to Democrat summit (half of that was probably Traver to Democrat).

 Comments or Questions
Very cool!
06/16/2020 07:11
I don't recall this being done before. Regardless, a very cool challenge and accomplishment!



What Tom said...
06/16/2020 18:20
Very, very cool. I really enjoyed this.

Photo of Drift to Wheeler from the northwest
07/13/2020 17:02
Very impressive traverse! Congratulations. In case you are interested in a view from lower down, I happened to photograph the ridge from Drift Peak to Wheeler Mountain while hiking at Clinton Gulch Reservoir to the northwest exactly 6 years ago today (2014 July 13). Photo at this link. Sadly, the splendid Clinton Amphitheatre below the ridge is the private property of the Climax Molybdenum Mine which is located on the other side of the ridge to the right of this photo; it is only permitted to hike to the end of the lake, which is the point from which the photo was taken. Frankly, I do not see myself ever attempting that traverse -- congratulations again!

Way to go
07/19/2020 07:20
I had a similar feeling in the pit of my stomach while climbing the west ridge of Quandary. I always think "I wonder if someone has done THAT traverse". Well apparently the answer is yes. Incredible job.


Late to the Party
10/02/2020 13:18
I will definitely have to do this some day! Super cool!

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