There are no Easy 14ers
With a lingering persistent problem, Jacob and I had to get creative. One strategy we used was to keep track of big lines that had already been flushed. We read in the avalanche reports that a skier had cut the Cristo Couloir on Quandary a week back, causing the entire couloir to avalanche. So we knew it was safe. With some fresh snowfall and light winds, we might even find powder!
Quandary is a mere five minute drive from Jacob’s house, so we left after lunch for a casual afternoon tour. His friend Sam would be joining us.
Near the start of Quandary, there is a sign proclaiming that “there are no easy 14ers”. Some fourteeners in Colorado can be even be driven all the way to the top! So while maybe that does not make them an “easy” 14er, some are certainly drastically easier than Washington’s one 14er, Mt. Rainier.
The climb up the east ridge of Quandary is gentle and enjoyable. It was a completely clear, calm day after a few days of cold and wind.
Vert never feels easy at 14,000 ft, but it did feel relatively easy due to a week of acclimatization. It felt like my body was ready for some bigger Colorado lines!
It was nearly windless on the summit of Quandary, an anomaly for a Colorado 14er. There was not a cloud in the sky – just a perfect day to be up high and soak in the views. We made it up in well under 3 hours. While there may be no easy 14ers, some are substantially easier than others!
To enter the Cristo Couloir, you have to do some traversing through thinly recovered rocks and eventually one short boot across rocks. The actual top of the ski line is something like 13400 ft.
At the top of the line, the snow seemed stable and mostly good powder. Conditions looked great! Jacob took a ski cut and then sent it! The evening light was soft and the position dramatic, making for excellent photos. This was exactly what Jacob described to me when he pitched this trip – skiing big lines in powder.
Jacob was hooting and hollering all the way down in one long run.
Next up, it was Sam’s turn. He only started skiing last year, but handled the big line just fine.
I came down last. Most of the snow was a little wind effected, but it was true powder towards the bottom. In the apron, the massive fan of avy debris from the recent slide was obvious.
At the bottom of the line, we only had to ride down a road back to our cars. The shadows were growing long and the evening light was beautiful. It was a joy to just glide back down.
We skied a big line on a 14er home-to-home in less than four hours. The access here is crazy!
Cristo Couloir on Quandary Peak was a super fun ski. I loved the extensive views and big mountain feel of this line. The weather was trending up and Jacob and I had a plan for my next week in Colorado. Game on!