Quandary Peak
snow North Gully aka Quandary Couloir
 Class 3 
Snow Steepness: Steep  
Ski/Board: Advanced, D11 / R3 / II  
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Considerable  
Trailhead:McCullough Gulch
Start:11,100 feet
Summit:14,265 feet
Total Gain:3,250 feet
RT Length:5.25 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:802 reports
Cell Signal:28 reports
Sheriff:Summit: 970-453-2232
Forest:White River
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
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NOTE: Starting July 30, 2021 you will need to reserve a parking spot for this trailhead or use the new free shuttle service from Breckenridge. More Info Here...

From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9. Turn right (west) on the Blue Lakes 850 Road. Drive a few hundred yards and turn right on the McCullough Gulch 851 Road. Drive 2.1 miles to the end of the road near a gate. Before 2 miles, there is a road junction, stay left on the main road. Park on the side of the road.


This couloir should be done with adequate snow cover and is not recommended as a summer climb - 1. It's located on the north side of Quandary and can only be seen in its entirety from McCullough Gulch. Taken from Mt. Helen (13,164'), 2 and 3 show the upper portion of the route.

Walk past the gate and follow the old road up to the left. Pass a building after about 1/4 mile and, after almost 1/2 mile, take the marked trail that leaves the left side of the road - 4. Follow the good trail through forest, over a few small log bridges and across a small boulder field - 5. Near 11,600', the trail approaches some waterfalls that can be heard beyond the trees. There are social trails that lead to the falls - stay right and continue onto a rocky hill just north of the waterfalls. Hike up through ledges to reach a point where you get a great view of the "Quandary Couloir" - 6. Gain the top of the rocks to reach a small, unnamed lake at 11,900' - 7.

From the lake, you can see all of the couloir ( 8) and it's a good location to carefully assess conditions before committing to the climb. Drop left (east), cross the stream below the lake ( 9), and hike over to the large rock/snow apron below the couloir. If you're lucky, the entire base will be snow-covered, making it easier to reach the base of the couloir - 10.

Once on the apron, strap on crampons and hike 200' to reach steeper terrain - 11. Near 12,400', the walls of the couloir begin to close in as you approach the crux of the climb - a 100-foot section of that forms a "choke" in the couloir - 12. Depending on the snow-depth in the choke, the snow may be less than 10 feet wide and the angle of this pitch can range from 40 to 45+ degrees. Carefully climb through the choke to reach easier terrain, above 12,800'. 13 and 14 look down on the crux.

The next 800'+ of climbing is straightforward (although not straight) and has a fairly consistent angle - 15, 16 and 17. Near 13,500', the couloir turns right and you can finally see the terrain near the top - 18. Follow the middle of the couloir to 13,700' where you will likely encounter some rock outcroppings in the center - 19. Turn slightly left and continue up steeper terrain ( 20) to reach the top of the couloir - 21, 22, 23 and 24. Turn right ( 25) and hike 350' to reach the summit - 26.


This couloir is a great ski line and is slightly steeper than the South (Cristo) Couloir.
Entering the couloir: 27
Upper half: 28, 29
Lower: 30
Steeper section before the exit: 31


Near the waterfalls (11,800'), the route can be a bit confusing due to social trails. If you go left to reach the falls, you have left the main trail - stay right and look for a small trail that climbs up through rocky terrain in the forest.
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