Date: December 29, 2009
Partner: Brian B.
Route: Ascent of East Ridge, Summit ski descent of East Face to East Ridge
Climbing and skiing the East Ridge on Quandary has been documented many times before, there`s really not much to say about this route that hasn`t been said previously. However for my own documentation purposes and for anyone out there seeking beta I thought I`d add yet another East Ridge TR to the interwebs.
I met up with Brian (14ers.com user “rolo tomassi”) Tuesday morning at the Quandary TH, we set off under blue skies for a short winter outing up the East Ridge. Brian was looking to snowshoe it for fitness purposes, I was looking to finally ski this peak following a November attempt that abruptly ended due to insufficient snow cover high up. Now however there`s a decent amount of snow both below and above treeline, I was able to ski from summit to car with just one small ski carry.
The skin through the woods went quickly; within an hour Brian and I were above the “first step”. The upper East Face looked to be filled in nicely with that typical sastrugi, wind-compacted winter snow. There were a few other hikers on the ridge, and a few skiers who elected to leave their skis at the base of the East Face. We continued on up and enjoyed a complete absence of wind, atypical for a late December day on Quandary. I realized early on that I forgot to charge my camera battery, thankfully Brian had his camera along and managed to snap a few shots along the way. All photos were taken by Brian.
A ski paraglider launched off the summit when Brian and I were 15 minutes from the top, that would have been cool to see up close.
Brian and I summited in 3 hours, not great but decent for winter. A few minutes later a group of 2 showed up and logged their first 14er summits. Congrats guys!
Brain took off down the ridge and I got ready to ski. I set off from the register and skied down the summit ridge, a few turns later and I was on the East Face.
I took my time, working through rock bands and avoiding sastrugi features when possible. Within 15 minuted of leaving the summit I was back on the East Ridge with Brian, from there the only option was to ski a ribbon of snow down the south side of the ridge line.
I did make a point to avoid the lower East Bowl as it`s usually slide prone this time of year, and the route can be skied cleanly on a lower angle south of the bowl anyway. A few shortcuts through the trees and Brian and I capped off the day in just under 5.5 hours. Conditions for skiing up there are just about as good as can be expected for calendar winter. Cheers!