Conquering Colorado’s Quandary Peak


View of Quandary Peak [photo:]
View of Quandary Peak [photo:]
by Kyla Camille | Here’s an amazing place to travel to any time of the year, and is guaranteed to remedy cabin fever. 

The downside, though, is oxygen acclimation – It’s pretty high up there. A friend of mine lives in Parker, CO at a little under 6,000 feet. Well, Breckenridge is double, and it still winds my friend. Need more red blood cells, you know.

So, if you are an outdoor enthusiast, don’t let the snow and ice keep you inside. Pack up the truck and head for the mountains.

Colorado is host to a section of the rugged Rocky Mountain Range, with trails and peaks fit for every season and for alpine climbers of every level of expertise.Just 90 miles outside of Denver lies the tallest peak of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile range. Nestled in the heart of the White River National Forest is the beautiful and versatile Quandary Peak. At over 14,000 feet, it sounds like an intimidating challenge, suitable only for seasoned climbers. On the contrary, Quandary Peak has trails in the Class 1 to Class 5 range. Whether you just want a vigorous winter hike, or you’re after a challenging alpine trek, Quandary Peak has a trail for you. Just pack some lightweight gear, that climbing carabiner or even a hammock carabiner, and other stuff you need before the trek. Winter is also a popular time for Quandary Peak among experienced backcountry skiers, with snow-packed slopes and constantly changing scenery.

At Tonneau Central, we know that your truck was made for adventure. So, we put together this infographic to help guide your next alpine expedition. Discover which trail offers the winter experience you’re after. If you have trouble viewing the infographic, you can find all of the information in the text below. Happy climbing!

If you’re looking to hit the road and do some adventuring this winter, there are some amazing mountain trails that are perfect for winter climbing right here in the heart of America. Just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado lies the tallest peak in the Tenmile Range of the Rocky Mountains. With winter hiking opportunities for alpine novices and experts alike, Quandary Peak is the perfect place to start off your new year.


  • Trails For Varying Skill Levels
  • Backcountry Skiing
  • Accessible Year Round
  • Backcountry Camping


If you’re new to winter mountaineering, the Quandary trail is a great place to gain your footing. Along the East Ridge of the peak, this is a very popular Class 1 trail for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.

  • 6.75 miles from trailhead to summit
  • 3,450 ft. gain
  • Trailhead: Quandary Trail
  • Intermediate level backcountry skiing
  • Dogs permitted
  • Snowshoes recommended

TIP: Hiking left could lead you into avalanche terrain. Stay on the ridge for the safest route.


A difficult Class 2 in the summer, Cristo Couloir on the South Gully becomes a whole new beast in the winter. Perfect for experienced backcountry skiers and intermediate snow climbers, be ready for some steep slopes.

  • 2 miles from trailhead to summit
  • 2,575 ft. gain
  • Trailhead: Blue Lakes
  • Expert level backcountry skiing
  • 2 mile hike to trailhead from parking

TIP: For less snow, stick to the west side. For more of a challenge, head straight up the center of the gully.


Though not as steep of a gain as Cristo Couloir, the west ridge of Quandary Peak has some rough terrain that requires skill and experience, especially in the winter. Come prepared with the right gear and lots of supplies.

  • 4 miles from trailhead to summit
  • 2,650 ft. gain
  • Trailhead: Blue Lakes
  • Rope and rack are advised
  • Route finding experience needed

TIP: For the safest route, stay off of the South Face of the ridge, which can be avalanche terrain in some conditions.


From Breckenridge, take Colorado Highway 9 to 850 Blue Lakes Road. If going to the Quandary trail, follow 851 McCullough Gulch Road to the trailhead.


Backcountry camping is allowed without permits throughout the White River National Forest. Formal campgrounds are available nearby at Blue Lakes.

[Featured Photo via]

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