North Gully (Quandary) Couloir
I was instructing High Altitude Mountaineering School during the COVID-19 lockdown and the disruptions that followed into 2021. Namely, our cohort of 2020 students had to put their Pacific Northwest grad climbs on hold for a year. In 2021 we resumed training and planning to make up for lost time.
Our HAMSters, as we call our students, originally had Fletcher E Face couloirs in mind but miscalculated the approach time and logistics as it relates to car-to-car travel with a large group. So we pivoted to North Gully (Quandary) Couloir to better accommodate time, snow and other considerations.
We ran into another HAMS team in the parking lot at the trailhead that were heading to the same objective we were. We scampered off ahead of them but they ultimately caught us at the base of the couloir as everyone was taking their bio breaks before the climb.
We joined forces with the other group and divided into a couple smaller groups based on pace. Surprisingly we didn’t encounter a ton of other traffic other than a couple skiers on that side of the mountain. The summit and Cristo side of Quandary was another story.
These routes are pretty popular in spring, not just with the CMC, although there were two Alpine Climbing School groups on the route the day before.
We enjoyed an excellent day with bomber boot stairs to the top of the route. Part of my group deviated from the well established boot pack for a more exciting mixed variation halfway up. I followed and enjoyed watching their enthusiasm for getting out of their comfort zones and working together as a team.
After the detour we rejoined the bootpack for the remaining ascent and the exit at the top of the couloir. A great day out with two groups from the CMC as we all trained for our upcoming Washington glacier objectives. We all linked up in Breck for food and drinks after the climb!