Quandary: Cristo Couloir


This line on the south face is a beauty, but it can be crowded, as this photo of the summit on May 17, 2003, shows. I have skied this twice. The first time it was icy in the upper reaches, and I was unable to ski it (I side-slipped a lot of it). But in May 2003 it was in excellent condition all the way down. Watch out for hikers coming up! As with many big peaks, it seems a lot easier to gain the summit by the standard route (east ridge) than to boot up the descent route.

This route on Quandary attracts snow climbers who are not skiers. There was an avalanche fatality in this couloir in March, 2005, and other serious accidents in earlier years. The photo below shows the line on May 25, 2007. There are several avalanches that occurred a day or two earlier. We spotted two people coming down very slowly -- you can see them in the avy-bed. They had axes, but not skis. They were moving down very slowly. Higher on the left is a single person on skis.


Here is a photo from North Star’s ridge on June 7, 2011. Although 2011 was a huge snow year, this particular line does not seem all that fat.


Quandary also offers the very mellow East Face descent, which I did with Dave Blakeslee on June 5, 2014. We got the summit in sneakers (it is 3400 feet of climb) and skied down to the bridge, one mile and a little over a thousand feet from the car.

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