Al’s First 14er: Quandary’s Cristo Couloir

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I have always been looking forward to the day I would get to introduce the fourteeners to my wife Anna-Lisa. She had never been above 12,000 ft. before this trip and had never used an ice axe or crampons, or snow climbed. I figured the Cristo Couloir would be a great starter climb for her, I had no idea how things would go so we sorta just went for it. We left Westminster at 3:00am (with another friend of ours) and headed for Breck. We arrived at the Blue Lakes TH around 5am and were off by 6. The great thing about this climb is the fact that there is literally no approach whatsoever, we were on the snow in less than ten minutes.

A nice morning at Blue Lakes.

After a crash course in ice axe and snow climbing technique, we began to head up the Cristo Couloir. The snow was still very firm at this point and we had no problem making good time up the first section of the couloir.

We made our way up steadily, stopping for sun screen application many times as the sun is just brutal this time of year.

It was at this point I was again kicking myself for not bringing my board along (I have foregone about 8 snowboard descents this year because none of the people I climb with ski, oh well). The snow was getting soft quickly so we made a point to pick it up a notch.

Brad enjoying the nice day out.

From this point we traversed underneath a rock band and climbed the final fifty feet to the summit ridge. A few moments later Anna-Lisa summited her first 14er!

We hung out on the summit for quite a while, suprised to see only one other person (I expected the masses would have been showing themselves at this point in the season). We basked in the sun and I pointed out all of the visable 14ers to Anna-Lisa, she was amazed at how far we could see and how the features of Colorado could be recognized for hundreds of miles.

Summit shot.

After a long while we headed down and I of course asked her the question that was on my mind: “Are you gonna do the other 57 with me?” I think she said no, but that she would love to go for a second. We self-arrested most of the way down, the sky was rapidly turning dark with thunderheads so we were happy to have a nice tame 2,000 ft. descent directly to the car.

 

We arrived back at the car for a rough time of 5 hours. This was such a short climb we actually had time to drive all the way back to Westminster, take a nap and meet some friends for dinner.

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