Quandry Peak – Ten Mile Range, CO

Snowboard Descent of Quandry Peak Located in the Ten Mile Range, CO (N 39.23 W106.06)

28th December 2010

Quandry Peak 14,265′

Ascent route: Standard East Ridge

Descent route: Upper and Lower East Ridge Bowls

Round trip distance: 6.98 miles

Starting elevation: 10,860′

Total elevation gain: 3,405′

Partners: Solo

Total time of trip: 4 hours 2 minutes

Quandry elevation profile

Quandry elevation profile

Quandry google earth via East Ridge

Quandry google earth via East Ridge

Trip Report:

With back country partners busy this week with the holidays, family, sickness, work, and everything else that goes along with Christmas week in Colorado I had to pick something quick and conservative, this way I could pick our guests up from the transportation center by lunch.  The main objective of most locals is to shift the decimal during Christmas week.  Today I managed move it three places.  With Vail having around 15,000+ visitors per day during Christmas I managed to keep my total number of people seen to 11, and not one of them ran into me while making my descent.

Quandry Peak 14,265' as seen from the East Ridge route

Quandry Peak 14,265' as seen from the East Ridge route

Quandry is an one of the easiest 14ers in the state to ski.  It starts with parking the truck, putting on the skins, stop for water, then 3,405′ later you are standing on the summit.  It was a balmy 1 degree Fahrenheit when driving over Vail pass, thankfully the temperature doubled by the time I parked the truck.  The quick strides on the mellow lower glades got the blood flowing and I quickly warmed up.  The hike was very enjoyable until breaking above treeline and was blasted by 20-30 mph gusts of wind.  By the time I stopped for my next water break the remaining half of the Nalgene on the outside of my pack had frozen.  The blue bird sky and warm sun made the weather a bit more balmy and enjoyable.  I skinned right up to the summit where I tucked in behind a couple rocks for a snack before putting my board back on for the descent.

Looking to the South at Northstar Mountain before being blasted on the barren ridge

Looking to the South at Northstar Mountain before being blasted on the barren ridge

Wind hammered East ridge with the summit of Quandry in the background

Wind hammered East ridge with the summit of Quandry in the background

I descended the far right side of the upper bowl where conditions varied from blower to soft-slab to concrete hard-slab.  The upper bowl is filled in nicely for this time of year considering 3 years ago I  was unable to descend the summit due to lack of snow.  The lower bowl rode excellent with shin deep blower powder. The best turns were had in the lower glades before returning to the truck.  The coverage seems excellent for summit county for this time of year, I look forward to knocking off a couple more peaks in the nearby Mosquito Range in the coming weeks.

The view from the summit

The view from the summit

Self-portrait on Quandry

Self-portrait on Quandry

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under All Posts, Snow, Winter

kNee Deep November

Seasons Change Part 3

October, November and December 2010

We wasted little time getting back in the saddle after returning from our year of traveling.  For those who would like to know more about our recent trip around the world please visit our travel blog…

Around the World With Weston and Dana

In the past three months we have gone from “placing pro” on Independence Pass to sweating in the saddle on the Monarch Crest trail to snorkel deep snowstorms.  Here are a couple pictures from our last couple of months back in Colorado.  After this we will be doing more dedicated trip report posts from our adventures.  Enjoy and get ready for 2011 it is going to be the biggest and best year to date!

kNee Deep November

Colorado winter has started off with a bang, or should I say more of a silent snow fall, landing gently in our big backyard.  As of the end of December we have already eclipsed the 200 inch mark at the house in East Vail.  Our back yard, 12 million acres of the white pine national forest, are now filled in and ripe for some early season turns.  Here is a little taste of what we have been doing, the big stuff is about ready for riding and we should have some exciting posts to follow in the very near future.  Enjoy and remember it’s never to late to live the dream!

Dana popping the pillow on Upper Tele Line East Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana popping the pillow on Upper Tele Line East Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Jordan Winters going deep into the Water Tank East Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Jordan Winters going deep into the Water Tank East Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Jordan Winters keeping it flowing down the Water Tank East Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Jordan Winters keeping it flowing down the Water Tank East Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana picking up where she left off before we left again in the Water Tank (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana picking up where she left off before we left again in the Water Tank (Photo - Weston Bierma)

A day with the legendary local “G-Man”

Paul “G-man” Genelin is a local legend and ex-pro skier that has the most infectious laugh and an unrivaled passion for skiing.  I recently got to spend a day with him which turned out to become one of my most memorable days of back country skiing.  We headed up the mountain on the last day of November with our minds set on skiing Sun Down Bowl which hadn’t opened yet because of a new chairlift that was being installed.  A quick stop by ski patrol headquarters to make sure that they weren’t going to be doing any explosives control work in the area and we were on our way to pure bliss.  We made three incredible laps on Ricky’s and Windows with the entire back bowl all to ourselves.  Thigh deep untouched powder whisping around us with only Paul’s laughter of approval breaking the pure silence on the crisp bluebird afternoon.  Thanks for an incredible tour G-man, one for the ages.  Also I know you can make turns in your sleep but next time you worry about the skiing and I will worry about the photo!

G-Man getting first tracks of the year on Ricky's.  Mt. of the Holy Cross 14,005' dominates the background behind G-Mans smile (Photo - Weston Bierma)

G-Man getting first tracks of the year on Ricky's. Mt. of the Holy Cross 14,005' dominates the background behind G-Mans smile (Photo - Weston Bierma)

G-Man finding the powder through the Windows (Photo - Weston Bierma)

G-Man finding the powder through the Windows (Photo - Weston Bierma)

2 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Snow, Winter

Back in the Saddle

Seasons Change Part 2

October, November and December 2010

We wasted little time getting back in the saddle after returning from our year of traveling.  For those who would like to know more about our recent trip around the world please visit our travel blog…

Around the World With Weston and Dana

In the past three months we have gone from “placing pro” on Independence Pass to sweating in the saddle on the Monarch Crest trail to snorkel deep snowstorms.  Here are a couple pictures from our last couple of months back in Colorado.  After this we will be doing more dedicated trip report posts from our adventures.  Enjoy and get ready for 2011 it is going to be the biggest and best year to date!

Back In the Saddle

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” — H.G. Wells

What did we miss most when we were gone?  That’s right sweating in the saddle then enjoying a local Colorado brew amongst friends afterward.  Despite only having a couple months we managed to rack up about 400-500 miles of single track bliss.  Our favorite ride of the summer was the Monarch Crest trail.  Starting high above treeline traversing across barren alpine tundra then descending a whopping 6,000″+ over 35 miles back down to the tailgate of the truck, cold beverages, and smiling faces spattered with dirt.  It’s the epics like Monarch that you live for but it is the local loops made after a hard days work that keep your sanity until the next big epic ride.  Here are a few photos of us enjoying the seasons change…

Classic Colorado single track (Photo Weston Bierma)
Classic Colorado single track (Photo Weston Bierma)
Dana cresting the top of North Trail in Vail, CO (Photo - Weston Bierma)
Dana cresting the top of North Trail in Vail, CO (Photo – Weston Bierma)
Bombing down through the Aspens (Photo - Dana Walenta)
Bombing down through the Aspens (Photo – Dana Walenta)
Enjoying the last of our indian summer (Photo Weston Bierma)
Enjoying the last of our indian summer (Photo Weston Bierma)

Leave a comment

Filed under All Posts, Dirt, Summer

Shelf Road Rock(s)

Seasons Change Part 1

October, November and December 2010

We wasted little time getting back in the saddle after returning from our year of traveling.  For those who would like to know more about our recent trip around the world please visit our travel blog…

Around the World With Weston and Dana

In the past three months we have gone from “placing pro” on Independence Pass to sweating in the saddle on the Monarch Crest trail to snorkel deep snowstorms.  Here are a couple pictures from our last couple of months back in Colorado.  After this we will be doing more dedicated trip report posts from our adventures.  Enjoy and get ready for 2011 it is going to be the biggest and best year to date!

Climbing in Canon City, CO

Shelf Road Rock(s)!

October 2010

Sometimes the best way to get your head back in the game of climbing after some time off is to grab the sharp end of the rope, start climbing and don’t look back.  We headed south into Colorado’s banana belt the instant the weather began to turn up in the high Rockies from Indian Summer into winter wonderland.  We were joined by Dana’s co-worker Dana for a couple days of sport climbing at Shelf Road.  Here are a couple photos from the trip, the first couple set the mood.

Bolt and draw

Bolt and draw (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Rope up

Rope up (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana climbing the Raven 5.9+ (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana climbing the Raven 5.9+ (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana's friend Dana making a move on the Raven 5.9+ (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana's friend Dana making a move on the Raven 5.9+ (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Weston eyeing the roof of High Heeled Titty Twister 5.10b (Photo - Dana Walenta)

Weston eyeing the roof of High Heeled Titty Twister 5.10b (Photo - Dana Walenta)

Dana working the crux of Politically Incorrect 5.10b (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana working the crux of Politically Incorrect 5.10b (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana leading La Choya Jackson 5.9 (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Dana leading La Choya Jackson 5.9 (Photo - Weston Bierma)

Leave a comment

Filed under All Posts, Dirt, Rock, Snow, Summer, Winter

Pika to Gold Dust Traverse

29th September 2010

Pika Peak 13,110′ and Gold Dust 13,365′

Ascent route: Lake Charles Trail

Descent route: Gold Dust Peak to Nolan 12,911 to Lake Charles Trail

Round trip distance: 11.62 miles

Starting elevation: 9,430′

Total elevation gain: 4,650′

Partners: Ben Lysdahl

Total time of trip: 8 hours 32 minutes

Elevation Profile Pika to Gold Dust

Elevation Profile Pika to Gold Dust

Google earth 3d overlay Pika to Gold Dust

Google earth 3d overlay Pika to Gold Dust

A pre-dawn start under changing leaves gave us plenty of time to accomplish our goal of traversing between the rarely climbed Pika and Gold Dust peaks.  Located on the edge of the Sawatch Range in the far north this wall of rock hides some of the most remote lakes in the area, and some of the best kept secret views.  Under strong legs we hammered out the first section from the Fulford Cave campground to Lake Charles with only a brief stop to shed a layer.  At Lake Charles we took a five minute break to enjoy breakfast in bar form and watch the morning sun illuminate Fool’s peak on the opposite side of the lake.

Fool's Peak reflected in Lake Charles

Fool's Peak reflected in Lake Charles

This is where the trail ended and our adventure begins.  Compass in had we bush-whacked through the trees and into the scree fields high above the lake.  We gained the ridge and made moderate progress through the coffee table sized scree.  After two false summits we sat on the summit staring down at Big Spruce Lake, Horseshoe Lake, and Big Lake.  Ben stumbled across a rusty old peanut jar containing a summit registry.  The register had been started in the 80’s and contained fewer than 40 names.  We took the small miniature pencil, more fit for a round of golf, and added our names to the tattered list.  We took in the views but were careful not to spend to much time as we both knew the next section would prove more difficult and timely than our first leg.

Pika Peak summit views

Pika Peak summit views

The tattered summit register of Pika

The tattered summit register of Pika

We began our steep descent towards the low point in the saddle and the pair of spires we would need to negotiate.  We found early season snow on the north facing slope, limiting our pace.  As the saddle neared we found ourselves in a position that would require a difficult descent around the first spire or continue directly over the spire.  We chose the latter based on the loose rock required to descend around it.  Be began wrapping around the class 4 spire finding the moves getting more difficult as we neared the top.  I was only a few steps behind Ben using many of the same holds.  About half way up I placed my hand and gave a “check” tug.  In slow motion a chunk of rock larger than my torso peeled off and rumbled down to the valley floor taking others with it.  We topped out on the spire finishing with several 5th class moves.  Despite a great view we found ourselves cliffed out on the other side.  Forced to descend back to the saddle we spent far more time than what we expected to make only a quarter of a mile worth of progress towards Gold Dust.

Neat rock on the right and the spire we climbed on the left

Neat rock on the right and the spire we climbed on the left

Traverse over and around the spires in orange

Traverse over and around the spires in orange

After negotiating the spires we made far quicker progress towards the summit of Gold Dust.  As we gained the first false summit we quickly realized that North Gold Dust would have to wait for another day.  A mess of loose steep scree, spires, and cliffs left us mesmerized by the view but faced with the reality after noon on our watches.  Instead we opted to work on our tans with this late September gem of an afternoon.  With only a slight breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky we fashioned some rocks into chairs, pulled out lunch and enjoyed the endless ruggedness of the Sawatch.

Looking at Pika and our traverse in the foreground, Sawatch Range in the background

Looking at Pika and our traverse in the foreground, Sawatch Range in the background

Ben Lysdahl on the summit of Gold Dust

Ben Lysdahl on the summit of Gold Dust

After an extended hour long lunch at over thirteen thousand feet we decided to call it a day and head down.  We continued down the ridge and through a tight scree filled choke.  Below the choke we found ourselves enjoying the spongy grass after spending the last 6 hours on the rock.  Using my GPS we thought we had a straight shot along the creek back to the Lake Charles trail, which technically we did, except for the tight rocky walls and the waterfall.  Only after a few short detours, a quick scramble, and a balancing beam act on a fallen tree over the creek did we find the Lake Charles trail we came in on.  The final couple miles were a breeze back to the truck and two more peaks were knocked off by Ben in an effort climb every peak in Colorado above 13,000′.  A perfect September day with views to match.

Fall in Colorado

Fall in Colorado

Leave a comment

Filed under All Posts, Dirt, Rock, Summer

Teton National Park – The Crest Trail

Grand Teton National Park

6,7,8th of September 2010

Route: The Crest Trail from south to north one way

Partners: Joe Collins, Nick Wenthur & Matt Koenitzer

One way distance hiked: 36.01 miles

Elevation profile of the Crest trail

Elevation profile of the Crest trail

Google Earth route from the North

Google Earth route from the North

The Tetons

The Tetons

Hiking with Cedarburg Bob Sled Team (See photo below for reference)

Day 1

Top of the Jackson Hole Tram to Camp 1 at Death Canyon Shelf

We awoke to grand views of the Tetons from our free campsite across the valley, why pay to stay in town with views of other hotels?  After some confusion of who was bringing what, we got our junk show on the road.  In an effort to avoid some possible early season snow we shortened our hike to three nights instead of four and took the Jackson Hole Tram up to the start of the hike.  From the top of the tram we began our 36 mile one way hike north to the truck awaiting us at String Lake.  Our hike would take us on a tour of the backside of the Grand Teton finishing up in the steep walled Paintbrush Canyon.

Sunrise on the Grand Tetons

Sunrise on the Grand Tetons

By the time we had gotten ourselves to the top of the tram the early morning clouds had burned off leaving us with clear skies and incredible views.  It was a real treat to begin a hike by going downhill but what goes down must come back up in this rare law of Crest trail physics.  The miles ticked off quickly as old friends, some as far back as Kindergarten, exchanged stories of travel and adventure.  The stories soon turned to huffs and sunscreen sweat facials as we began our first ascent over Fox Creek Pass.  The pass is just slightly over 9,500′ so it became the test piece to see if Joe and I would need to carry anyone along the way.  Lucky for us Nick and Matt’s daily desk jockey aerobic program seemed to be working (I still can’t believe that they paid 3 easy payments of $39.95 for the workout tapes).

Knetz leading the way

Knetz leading the way

As we gained the saddle we were rewarded with our first views of the Grand and the spectacular Teton range.  Daylight was burning so we kept our stop short and continued onto the Death Canyon Shelf.  Amongst giant rockfall and talus we found a flat area only steps away from the edge of the canyon shelf.  Sitting on the edge with legs dangling we watched as the sunset behind Mount Bannon leaving the Grand in a reddish alpenglow.

Joe Co approaching the saddle of Fox Creek Pass, Mt. Bannon in the background

Joe Co approaching the saddle of Fox Creek Pass, Mt. Bannon in the background

The Grand in alpenglow

The Grand in alpenglow

Day 2

Death Canyon Shelf to Camp 2 at South Fork Cascade Canyon

I awoke first to the sound of birds chirping and tent 2’s snoring.  The overnight lows were quickly shaken off with a hot cup of Vail Mountain Coffee & Teas Mango Ceylon.  With legs dangling I sat watching the sunrise over the Grand.  The sun heated up my outside just as the tea and oatmeal had done inside.  Time to hit the trail… as soon as the others were packed up and fed.  With my short attention span I wandered up into the talus on a half awake request from Matt that he wanted a picture of one of those furry things in the rocks.  You would be surprised how easy it is to kill an hour on a Marmot photo shoot hunt.  I also managed to bag an additional creature for Matt from Minnesota.

Marmot sunning himself with the Grand in the background

Marmot sunning himself with the Grand in the background

American Pika

American Pika

After a successful marmot and pika hunt the guys were packed and ready for our days hike culminating on Hurricane Pass.  We cruised across the long flat Death Canyon Shelf with the views getting bigger and better with every turn in the trail.  We ticked off the miles on our rested legs with Hurricane pass lingering off in the distance.

Joe eyeing up Hurricane Pass

Joe eying up Hurricane Pass

The whole crew getting a couple shots of Veiled Peak and Mt Wister

The whole crew getting a couple shots of Veiled Peak and Mt Wister

We put our heads down and watched the valley floor disappear below us as we began our switchback ascent of Hurricane Pass.  The pass managed to live up to its name and only made us conjure up images of what it would be like mid winter.  We were blasted with strong gusts of wind on the tree less scoured saddle, despite the calm comfortable weather we had left at the valley floor.  In return we sat on the edge of a cliff overhanging the Schoolroom Glacier with some of the best views in the lower 48.  Rising nearly one mile from the valley floor stood the summit of the Grand Teton.  The glacial silt waters of the icy lake below made the view even Grander.  We wiped the now freezing sweat from our brows and leaned back on our stacked pack wind shelter eating some snacks out of the grab bag (technical mountaineering term for a bag full of clif bars, fruit snacks, snickers, ect.  reach in and eat cause it all tastes good when you get this hungry).

The bobsled team photo (we did not make the cut for the olympics)

The bobsled team photo (we did not make the cut for the olympics)

Heading down Hurricane Pass to camp

Heading down Hurricane Pass to camp

We setup camp underneath the jagged west face of the Grand Teton.  After two days of sweat, sunscreen, and lack of deodorant we washed up under a setting sun.  The just add water meal was hot and delicious followed by a round of hot beverages that we finished up under the stars.  The sound of the creek and light breeze left us with a setting only fit for the Grandest peaks.  Shortly after dark while I was hiking back up to Hurricane Pass for a couple of photos I spotted a headlamp descending the ridge to the climbers camp located between the Grand and Middle Teton.  My mind quickly wandered thinking about climbing the Exum route or making those first couple snowboard turns off the summit.  Soon enough I will be back for the Grand and Middle Teton summits.  The stars were slightly hazy due to a west wind bring in a slight cloud of smoke over the range.  The conditions proved interesting making for some unique night shots of the Tetons.

Stars behind the Grand

Stars behind the Grand as seen from Hurricane Pass

Grand Star Trails

Grand Star Trails

Clouds moving in oer the Schoolroom Glacier

Clouds moving in oer the Schoolroom Glacier

Day 3

South Fork Cascade Canyon to Camp 3 Paintbrush Canyon

With our biggest day elevation wise still ahead of us we all got an early start.  Our early start was rewarded with a mother and two calfs grazing in the depths of the willows.  We parted ways with the South Fork and made our way up to Lake Solitude for a lunch time snack.  The clouds turned dark and the fish began jumping, we took note and hit the trail for our final pass of the hike, Paintbrush Divide.  Three quarters of the way up we watched as an incoming storm engulfed the Tetons bringing some of the seasons first snows to the upper flanks.

The Grand being engulfed

The Grand being engulfed

We sat and watched as the Grand disappeared behind the clouds, in turn we made quick progress to cross the Paintbrush Divide before we to were engulfed.  Far below we could see Holly lake and our final camp of the hike.

Nick crossing the Paintbrush Divide

Nick crossing the Paintbrush Divide

Paintbrush Canyon

Paintbrush Canyon

Matt crossing the final glacier before camp

Matt crossing the final glacier before camp

Our day ended with some snow flurries and a dip in Holly Lake.  We all call home an area in which we call Lake Michigan the beach.  We jumped in and paddled around as the wind was knocked out of us.  The wind was knocked out of again after I left my watch in the water and got a temperature of 41 degrees.

Sleep came easy after three days of hiking under our belt.  Tomorrow we would be back in town for a meal that needed more than boiling water added.

Day 4

Paintbrush Canyon to Camp 4 the T-Ruck

We awoke to gusty winds and snow flurries starting to fly up on the divide.  We packed up relatively quickly but soon realized we would not be beating the snow back to the truck.  We hiked out the remaining few miles under a soggy wet snow cover.  All of us were soaked and ready for a hot meal in town.  We called up Kevin, a college friend of mine to show us the town.  We ended up at the world famous Million Dollar Cowboy bar downtown and finished the evening at camp 4, the T-ruck.  In true Jackson fashion we spent the last night in the back of the truck downtown Jackson like many ski bums before us.

Can’t wait for next year, come visit Colorado anytime!

Leave a comment

Filed under All Posts, Hike, Summer