This is my first attempt at putting together a trip report so we'll see how it goes...
Stevens Gulch Road seemed a bit more bumpy than last summer, but was easily driven on dry road conditions. We arrived at the Grays Peak trailhead at 04:30 on 5/20/12 with calm and clear weather conditions under a still star littered sky. There were a good 20 vehicles scattered in the parking areas when we arrived.
At 04:55 we started our approach to Dead Dog Couloir which splits Torreys east face. The trail conditions consisted of dry dirt, frozen mud, ice, and snow as we started our climb. There was a considerable amount of frozen run water on the trail at spots that made for some slick spots. It was recognized that at lower elevations a dusting of snow had accumulated from the snow showers from Saturday the 19th mostly on preexisting snow.
Early morning sun hitting Grays and Torreys
Along the trail
Torreys and Dead Dog Couloir
Approaching the apron of Dead Dog, we noticed the runnel on the lower half of the couloir had produced some wet slide activity and collected a considerable amount of rockfall. It is advised to staying to skiers right on your descent to avoid the runnel and rock debris, some of which are a good eight inches in size. The runnel itself is not "Grand Canyon" size as it can still be skied across, but does not make for a smooth descent.
Runnel noticeable from a distance
Near 06:30 we started our ascent up Dead Dog Couloir. It was quickly recognized that boots and trekking poles needed be complimented with crampons and an ice axe. The slope was getting moderate solar heating, but had not yet softened from the nights freeze. At numerous times rocks came whizzing by as my partner warned me from above. Another group of climbers were 50 yards back and they too were warned. This was a good system with moderately spaced climbers. It was interesting to see the various types of spring precip on the slope from the prior day (graupel and sections of unconsolidated powder that had drifted). The unconsolidated snow made for tricky footing at spots, but was easily navigated. We topped out on Torreys Peak around 09:00 with mostly sunny skies and very light winds.
Nearing apron top
In the couloir
Looking down the couloir
Along the ridge to Torreys peak
On the summit
Party at the peak
Kelso Ridge and basin
Due wind loading of snow from the prior day on the upper east face of Torreys we made our way back to the top of Dead Dog to begin our descent. The ridge between the summit and Dead Dog had between 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow and was littered with rocks. The descent down Dead Dog Couloir was very smooth as the snow had softened up nicely by 10:00 under sunny skies. As mentioned above, avoid the runnel on skiers left if desiring the smoothest run with less loose rocks to navigate.
The trail back to the parking lot had heated up considerably on the way down, as all the ice and snow was now water/mud and wet snow. We made it back to the vehicle around 12:00.