Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quandary West Ridge

We drove from Amarillo, TX and made it up the Blue Lakes road all the way to the dam Thursday night. We cooked dinner and called it a night. We started hiking Friday morning at about 7. We followed what seemed like the path of less resistance across patches of knee deep snow. The trail was very difficult to follow but there were patches which were discernible. 

We continued up to the saddle of Quandary and Fletcher tending toward the North side of the basin trying to stay on rock patches which protruded from the deep snow. We left our snow shoes in the car and never regretted it. (we were able to stay on rock about 80% of the time though with some difficulty) 

We started climbing the West Ridge and made it past the first 2nd/3rd class section with little trouble. We did run into some sections a bit harder than this since we forgot all our West Ridge beta in the car and only had a general map of Quandary. Though this scramble was difficult we never felt the need to put on crampons since it wasn't that hard and any snow was too soft anyway. 

We continued past the easy 1st class bit to the false summit. This was quite disheartening because we thought we were done with the scrambling sections. (Neither of us had fully read the route description before the climb, rookie mistake #2) From the false summit we could see the long 3rd class sections to the actual summit.

We started climbing, downclimbing, and traversing up, down, and around the various spires on the route. We both felt like there were a few 4th class sections through we may have gone slightly of route since we were lacking beta. We each climbed with one BD Venom and left the matching axe in the pack the entire route. There were many sketchy mixed sections which were very exposed. After a particularly difficult section I whipped out my iPhone and found enough reception to pull up 14ers and the route description. 

We stayed on route the rest of the way, and climbed through the "crux" sections which weren't bad at all compared to some of the other stuff we did. After the last crux wall we continued to the summit.  

We reached the top at about 4:45. After a few summit shots we discussed our descent route. We didn't know exactly where Cristo Coulior was so we opted to just descend the East Ridge and hike the road back to the car. 

After a lot of hiking down, we made it the jeep at about 8. After eating we went to sleep. We woke the next morning at 7 as cars stared rolling in with about 12 climbers heading up the Cristo Coulior. We drove back to Amarillo after a great trip climbing an exciting ridge in the snow. 

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