| Torreys-Grays - Dead Dog Couloir
Just wanted to start by saying thanks to all who make this site work, information so far has been spot on and helped me plan a few great trips this month. So I decided to register here and post a trip report or two.
This was my 3rd SOLO hike and 4th and 5th 14er summits this month, Evans (via north face) and Bierstadt from Echo Lake last week, Im still writing a trip report.
The winter road to the trailhead was easily passable despite a sign that stated otherwise. I parked and set out about 8:45am. I was pleasantly surprised to see it so crowded. Weather was chilly probably about freezing. I hiked up the Stevens Gulch trail to about 12,400’ where I left the trail and headed west towards the east face of Torreys and the Dead Dog Couloir. A few minutes into the ascent of the east face I stopped to put on crampons, the terrain was still mixed here but I prefer crampons for climbing this type of terrain especially when there is some loose scree under the snow, which there was. Crampons would soon become necessary anyway. I started up the right (north) side of the Dead Dog Couloir and crossed to the south at about 13,100, shortly after I dropped into it and stayed in the rest of the way. This is my route, taken just after I left the trail, I hiked across the rocks to stay off the tundra.
Snow was soft and generally not ideal but it was pretty straightforward crampon work until about 13,400’. A rock, maybe 10-15 lbs, had come loose from somewhere far above and bounced off a ledge above me. The impact sounded like a gunshot and I got a glimpse as it passed about 12-15’ above me and to my right. Its velocity was impressive, helmet or no, this would have been fatal if it struck my head. Yeah, rock fall is a hazard on this route.
Looking SE from the couloir
Adrenaline flowing I picked up the pace, It was warm with very calm winds sheltered here on the leeward side of the mountain. There were a few problems due to shallow/soft snow that would have been easier to solve had I thought to bring an axe, but I didn’t. I made it through although a couple moves were a tad sketchy, including putting my full weight on one crampon that had just the front 2 points on a bit of rock I brushed the snow off of. In general I would call it class 3 today, on the upper section anyway, with a couple tough moves. Primarily due to subpar snow conditions, it would be easier with a good snow pack. Snow was much better on the top few hundred feet or so, but too soft and sparse on the bottom sections. I’ve never been on this mountain before but it felt like a bit of last years snow still underneath in spots.
I gained the north ridge of Torreys just north of the summit and about 14,200’ I think. The wind immediately picked up and it was cold, gusts to 50-60mph it felt like. I had sweated a little and after quickly crossing the summit I sat down on the south side of a cairn to take off my crampons and sort myself out. Dead Dog Couloir shook me up a little and I needed a minute to collect myself, too bad it was such a cold/windy spot.
I put on my dry gloves and an extra layer, stowed my crampons, stood up and started toward Grays. The hike up Grays was easy, a stroll compared the Dead Dog. The wind died a little maybe to 20-30mph, and I warmed up and felt pretty good by the summit of Grays. I didn’t bother to even break stride at either summit, just continued across and picked up the trail. I never much liked summits, they are typically the most uncomfortable place on the mountain, Torreys summit was no exception.
The trail down off Grays was packed snow and a bit slippery from all the traffic, I chose to continue without crampons because I tend to descend faster over this kind of terrain without them and there wasn't really any exposure, it wasn’t too bad.
It was sunny, light winds and warm when I returned to my car at about 1:15pm, about 4.5 hours spent on the mountains, very nearly 2 hrs just to get up the couloir.
I didn’t take many pictures, I never do, but I included a couple.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):