After a tune up on Mt. Shavano earlier this week, Jeremiah Meizis and I headed for Mt. Quandary yesterday. Mt. Quandary is one of the most popular and straightforward 14ers located just south of Breckenridge on the north side of the Continental Divide.
Unlike Shavano, where we were the only people for miles, when we arrived at the Quandary trailhead at 6:45am we were already the 5th party to arrive. By 7:00am we were on the trail . The route up Quandary was about as simple as it gets, just gain the ridge and then follow it to the top.
By 7:50 we had reached treeline and passed 2 parties of snowshoers. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was quickly rising as we pressed on to the top.
We made good time up the east ridge and continued to pass the 2 remaining parties on our way to the final climb. We reached the summit at 9:25am where we stopped for a snack and some obligatory photos while we discussed our descent route.
Our primary objective for Quandary was to descend via the south facing Cristo Couloir, but after observing a large amount of activity on similar aspects we opted to play it safe and descend via the east bowls instead. The wind on the summit was fierce so our time spent on top was brief.
We were able to ski directly from the summit and to our surprise the turns were outstanding. With good snow and the temperature staying cold up high we opted to take another lap, so after skiing down to 13,100ft we hiked back to the top and skied it again.
After our second lap of the upper bowl we continued descending the east side. On our way down we came across a pair of Mountain Goats. This was the first time I had ever seen a Mountain Goat in the wild, so I was pretty excited as fumbled with my camera. Unfortunately, they weren't nearly as excited to see me.
As we descended the snow just got better and better with the rising temperature. We skied perfect corn all the way to treeline . Once we made the trees our perfect corn turned into a miserable slush making the last turns to the car less than memorable.
We arrived back at the car at 11:45am and were on our way back to the springs by 12. After skiing Shavano on Monday, Quandary felt like a walk in the park. Great weather and good conditions made for an outstanding day all around. All told we did 7.95 miles and 4,565ft of elevation in 4 hours and 45 minutes car to car.
- John McDonough
Read more trip reports:
Mt. Shavano - 4/7/14
A collection of stories and adventures from the FAMS director and instructors.