Elevation: 10,850-14,265 ft
Elevation Gain: 3,450 ft
Dogs: Off leash
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Date Hiked: 12 August 2008
Technically, Quandary Peak is one of the easier 14ers. There is no large scree dome at the top to navigate and minimal exposure. There are also large rock steps placed frequently along the route so that at times I felt like I was on a Stairmaster instead of a mountain. I have long legs and was able to easily navigate these steps. My two companions were shorter and these step-ups were more difficult. Still, since they have redone the trail and laid gravel down, I would say Quandary Peak is actually harder than Mt. Bierstadt, which is several peaks higher on the difficulty scale. This is all subjective of course. Which is harder, navigating a large boulder-like scree pile or descending for 2 hours on loose gravel? While I was happy for my ankle high boots, there were many hikers wearing running shoes. The slip potential was so high, I am not sure that is the best choice but that again is subjective. I know folk who prefer running shoes saying they are more limber, maneuverable, and more padded.
The views of Blue Lakes are very dramatic as you near 12,000 ft. Monte Cristo Gulch is bordered to the south by a jagged ridgeline that joins North Star Mountain to the east and Wheeler Mountain to the west. The damn at the end of the Gulch is the starting point for the West Ridge route up Quandary. This route is much more exposed and should only attempted by more experienced climbers. Just last week a renowned chef from Missouri died on Quandary on this route. Earlier in June another climber nearly died after a horrible tumble down the Monte Cristo couloir.
Note: Jan 2008, I have a nice broad view of Quandary Peak on my Baker's Tank Snowshoe