Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,272 feet
Date Posted:  09/11/2021
Date Climbed:   08/28/2021
Author:  JohnKLovesMtnGoats
 West Ridge Quandary Peak   

Enter your trip report here...I had tried a week or two before to sleep at the trailhead and leave at 4:00 am, but had a miserable night of not sleeping and an August mini- blizzard, so I deferred to the 28th, and slept at the nearby hostel the night beforehand.

Started about 4:30 am; I read so many reports about people missing the trail going UP, to the RIGHT, and having to backtrack that I was paranoid about it and went up to the right about 50 or 100 yard in....not really a problem, but instead of walking through a valley I was on a higher, rockier area until getting to the base of the ridge- maybe added five minutes to hiking time.

I was very surprised at how well-marked the trail was up to about 14,100 feet- very little difficulty to that point.

About that point, one has to start making decisions about which way to go.

After reading multiple stories of people ending up needing rescue after wandering onto sketchy cliffs, I was determined not to do that! So I started early, on an excellent forecast day, with the idea that I wouldn't go forward into an area I wasn't confident I could get back, if I later found I was off-route.

Route- finding was a little harder for me than it looked, but if I came to a dead end I'd just go back and carefully pick a different route.

For me personally, the crux of the route was when I came to a very steep and loose gully; this was on the left side of the ridge- about half way to the summit. I could see a small cairn on either side of the gully, so it was clear this was the proper route, but I kept thinking that a slip going across this short distance would be very bad.

I went a short distance to the right, kind of up on the ridge proper, and there was a kind of land bridge one could cross.....easier, but THEN I would have had to do a difficult traverse to get back on route, and a fall there would be worse.

So I started walking back to re-group, thinking there was an easier way. About two minutes later I met a guy moving forward and asked him if he thought it was the correct route. He looked at the "Ninja" video and said, "Hey, look, he came right over this spot in the video".

So we went back to the gully. He went across pretty easily, and I saw it really wasn't that hard.....somehow I'd just gotten it in my head that it was harder than it really was. I found just concentrating on each simple step and hold got me across no problem!

Then we saw the wall with the big's really a lot less intimidating in person than the pictures make it look.

Route finding continued to be a little tricky but none too difficult.

It was really cool right before the big crux wall with the stairs, as we were walking on a narrow ridge with lots of exposure- still, it's easier that how it looks in those videos for sure!

We could see that last wall, but it took a minute to figure out how to get there.

Somehow, the wall looks huge, like a thousand foot drop, until you get to it and see there's a land bridge you could not see before, so when you are standing on that bridge the wall is not terribly high above you.

Was kind of exciting when I remembered that there should be a path to the right that looked like it would end in a cliff or dead end, but when you go over it you just go down steeply (but very stable rock with infinite good holds) and it takes you right to the base of the wall.

My new found climbing partner was good enought to take some pictures of me climbing the wall and sent them to me later (can't include them as I'm on mobile phone). It's funny how when I look at the pictures it looks kinda death-defying and scary, but it really is nowhere near as bad as the pictures look.

Climbing over and down the wall was pretty straightforward.....then it's just a walk of a few minutes easy to the top.

One word of caution- at the summit I could look down at my car in the Blue Lakes Trailhead lot and the temptation to go down the Cristo Couloir, rather than the standard trail, was too great. I was warned it was a bad idea and I'd regret it.....I sure did! It got very dicey and loose and I ended up having to climb many handreds of feet back up, not feeling too safe.

But overall it was a great experience!

Comments or Questions
09/17/2021 22:47
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