| Grays Winter Summit Ski Descent
-Start at Montezuma road
-From Peru Creek Road up into Chihuahua Gulch
-From Chihuahua Gulch up into Ruby Gulch to Grays Summit via South slopes
-Ski Descent of South Slopes
-Elevation Climbed and Skied: 4,400'
-Mileage RT: 13 miles
The Failed Attempt:
Killingcokes and I attempted this route the day of the Stanley avalanche path slide on Berthoud Pass. We had some issues with getting away from trailhead at a reasonable time due to crazy ski traffic. Oh ya, and my dumb ass forgot my beacon so we had to drive back into Silverthorne to rent one. We quickly motored up the 3 miles to Chihuahua Gultch TH and by the time we got the sleds 0.25 miles up Chihuahua and tried to dig them out a few times, it was 10:30am. The weather was holding, so we continued on. When we reached the old mine shack below Grays South slopes at 12,300', the temp was -10 and the wind was blowing snow around with 45-50 mph gusts. Wind chill was, well, chilling. Up high there were probably 75-80mph gusts. As I stepped into the broken down cabin to seek shelter a 5 inch deep softslab about 5 square feet in size fractured with tons of energy and slid under the floorboards. Clearly the summit was out of question.
We immediately planned a new date to get this summit skied, which was the 27th of January. Dobish decided to come along as well, a strong tele skier from Golden. It was his birthday and I just completed a chinese proverb for luck, so we were ensured a top notch outing. We met at TREX much earlier this time at 4:00am to beat the crazy Denver ski mob up the hill and were ready to roll at the TH at 6:15am. Unfortunately, Dobish lent his gear to someone who left the bindings adjusted to his boot size, so while he tried to figure that out, the sled overheated from idleing for too long and spit all its antifreeze onto the ground. No sled ment the trip just got 6 more miles and 1000' of vert added onto it.
We skinned up the Peru Creek Road and turned up Chihuahua Gulch just as the sun was really lighting things up. To get into Ruby Gulch, we ascended some steep terrain right below treeline to avoid the alternative of very dense woods choked with deadfall.
Skinning up into the basin below Grays South slopes
We got a really good view of the route from here.
Grays South slopes from treeline
The skin up the South slopes was good practice in steep ascent skills with the skis.
Fritz skinning up Grays South slopes
Jeremy skinning up Grays South slopes
Fritz's skins are old and dont stick or grab so well anymore so he ended up having to boot up the ridgeline, which was probably pretty miserable with the gusts of 30-40mph and some unconsolidated snow. We all ended up booting up the final 300' of ridgeline. I had some time alone to relax and enjoy the winter on a 14er for at least 30 mins until Dobish and Fritz arrived. The hard part was over, now for the payoff.
Ski Descent of South Slopes:
The snow conditions for skiing were as good as you could hope for after a week of high pressure, and our route was solid as a rock stabilty wise. There were tons of turns to be had down the styrophome. There was a break in the snow coverage about 50 feet below the summit, but it was short enough to sidestep so I was able to keep my skies on from the summit to the truck back at Montezuma Road.
Me taking the first turn off the summit of Grays
Dobish making it look easy
Fritz getting it done on a spectacular winter day
Me enjoying gravity
Dobish making it look easy again
There were many turns down the 4700 vert
The ski through the trees was either too dense to let em fly, or money recycle pow with perfect tree spacing. This day was a good day.
Another TR on this trip with more pics can be found here:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):