I never climbed the peak. Stories of big crowds deterred me from visiting Quandary. Drew Petersen, another hiker from Salida that I started talking to climbed the peak several times and spoke quite highly Quandary. Drew had plans to hike the peak again in the near future. Since we live pretty close to each other and I never climbed the peak, we decided to climb the peak together. We monitored the forecast and set out on Wednesday, January 7th. When we arrived at the trailhead it was in the 20s with nearly no wind at the parking lot. It was a beautiful clear bluebird day.
Quandary has relatively gentle slopes and is typically safe from avalanches in the winter on its East Ridge route. This makes it a popular 14er for winter climbs as well. Because of its popularity, the parking lot already had quite a few cars for a Wednesday in January.
From the trailhead, the trail was very nicely packed from the hiking traffic. Almost immediately we put on microspikes and used them the entire trip. We had the trail to ourselves as we traveled through the woods on the lower reaches of the route. As we broke out to the trees for good we could see quite a few groups climbing ahead of us. Even on the lower reaches of the hike there are plenty of views from several clearings. We reached treeline quickly and the views are pretty much continuous the rest of the climb.
|Looking back toward Hoosier Ridge|
|The trail was well-packed|
|Looking toward North Star Mountain early in the hike|
|The summit poking out above the trees|
|The route passing through a meadow before treeline|
|Drew climbing a lower slope|
|View toward Grays and Torreys|
|North Star Mountain|
|Catching up to other hikers above treeline|
|Looking ahead to Quandary|
|I think this looking at Wheeler Mountain|
|Quandary's East Ridge|
|Drew making his way up the ridge|
The scenery started early on this hike and the summit views are beautiful. The 14ers of Lincoln, Democrat, and Bross are just a few miles to the south. The northern Sawatch 14ers area are prominent to the west as well as the Elk Range's high summits. The front range 14ers of Gray and Torreys seem very close and Pike's Peak dominates the skyline toward Colorado Springs. The Sangres are even visible far to the south.
|Looking west from summit|
|Sawatch Range beyond the West Ridge|
|Sawatch close up|
|Decalibron 14ers over North Star|
|Looking down the West Ridge|
|Tomcat on the summit|
|Descending back down the ridge|
|The view northeast as we descended|
|Line of hikers heading up as we descended|
|Another shot of Tomcat on the summit|