Although Dinah and I wanted to ascend a few fourteeners, we also wanted to avoid the crowds that come with popular mountain with popular ascent routes. Quandary Peak was unpopular and it offered a fast, quiet route. Most people hike the long east ridge, but we scrambled up the south slope, a short but steep route.
The trail starts at Blue Lake (at an elevation higher than than the summit of Alberta's Mount Temple) and follows a gully. Although it's possible to hike up either side of the gully, we took the gully and were able to do some scrambling. Mindful of the debilitating high-altitude headaches we had two days earlier on Mount Audubon, we took our time.
On reaching the top we met people relaxing in the windbreak. They, like others coming up, hiked up the east ridge.
On the descent, we followed a trail. A park ranger had warned us that people had been rescued on the descent using this route when they ran into cliff bands, a fact that confounds me. We could see our car from the summit and on either side of the gully stretched broad scree slopes. I couldn't see how people could lose those way on this route.
Quandary Peak seen after we turned onto the dirt road leading to the dam (left). Most people
hike the skyline ridge, but we ascended the slopes to the left and below the summit.
Just before the dam at Blue Lake we startled some mountain goats (mouse over)
Starting up the lower slopes of Quadary
At first I thought I came across some golf balls, but they were puffball mushrooms
What looked like a gully to me, was called a "couloir" in the book
There's some scrambling if one looks for it
Easier terrain on either side of the gully
As interesting as it gets
Solid rock near the bottom gives way to loose rock higher up
Below, you can see the parking lot next to the dam
Dinah (lower right, mouse over) ascended the left side of the gully
I stayed in the gully (centre, mouse over)
Mica in the rock glittered like silver everywhere
On the summit
The summit registers we saw were made of PVC pipe and were attached to a rock by wire cable.
Inside, instead of a booklet, were assorted pages, including printouts of the route.
Breckenridge 1:24,000 Topo (2.0 mi, 14,383 ft, 2,598 ft)
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