Buying Gear?  Click Here
Buying gear? Please use these links to help

More info...

Other ways to help...
Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Apache Pk  -  13,441 feet
Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Post Date:  06/30/2008
Modified:  07/01/2008
Date Climbed:   06/27/2008
Posted By:  astrobassman

 Dead Dog, Apache Couloir, and Grays Standard   

The last weekend of June turned out to be one of my favorite weekends so far this year. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull it off due to the lack of time to sleep, but it turned out to be ok. The hardest part of these snow climbs is to get out of bed. My alarm blasted me awake at 3am, and I was hiking up the Grays Peak trail at 4:45am. The hike to the base of the Dead Dog was uneventful, and I stopped and refueled with a Snickers at the base of the couloir:

I started making my way up the Couloir at 6:15am. The snow was just about perfect...fairly hard, yet soft enough to easily kick steps and place my axe:

I didn't experience any rock fall, and the couloir never felt like the advertized 45 to 50 degree steep slope:

The views were great and I topped out just below the summit 45 minutes later:

The crux of Kelso Ridge:

I strolled up to the summit and sat there for 30 minutes. I had yet to see a single person...quite a feat in itself for Torreys peak. When I started seeing the train of hikers going up the standard routes, I made a quick dash up Grays peak before heading back down. From a distance, the Dead Dog looked very intimidating and steep, but once in the couloir, it felt comfortable. I was back at my truck less than 5 hours later, which made for a short yet memorable day by myself on two of Colorado's most popular mountains:

I was back in Denver eating breakfast and sipping a bloody mary before noon. After a long nap and dinner with the girlfriend I made my way up Lookout Mountain for band rehearsal. The party errupted and I wasn't on the road to my next destinaton (Apache Peak) until midnight. I arrived at the Brainard Lake TH at 2am, and fell asleep immediately. I once heard that the best way to train for higher mountains is to get real drunk, not sleep much, and go climb. Apache Peak proved to be such a day. I did't set my alarm properly, but luckily with all the traffic on the road I akwoke at 4:30am. I made my way up the road to meet Heather and Chris. I was a bit late an they started up the trail without me. I got my stuff together and started up the trail in a groggy way. Almost immidiately my head cleared and I perked up. The hangover was gone and the mist hung over the Indian Peaks:

There were some huge snowbanks along the Long Lake trail, and at one point I almost bit it and fell in the lake. After that I got out my axe to use as a hiking stick. Along the way I saw a rock fall/avalanche on Shashoni with truck sized debris. It was intimidating to say the least. I caught up with Chris and Heather at around 12,000 feet in one of my favorite basins in Colorado:

We made our way up a steep snow slope, and took a break and put our crampons on at the base of the Apache Couloir. We started up the couloir rather late; about 8am. Naturally the snow was extremely soft, but managable:

The views were amazing. Here is the Navajo summit cone with the comical Dickers Peck lurking in the background:

Making our way up Apache:

Like Dead Dog, Apache Couloir never felt like the "steep, serious" climb that I've heard it is. Just the same, I know how capricious mountains can be, so Apache received my full attention. We topped out and strolled up the talus to Apache's gentle summit. A sea of clouds on the plains:

Longs Peak:

We decended the Queens Way Couloir, and had a great 1500 foot glissade. Surounded by striking routes on magnificent mountains such as Navajo, Shoshoni, and Arapaho, this part of the Indian Peaks is one that I will return to soon. We meandered around the basin, stopping frequently to see waterfalls, interesting rock formations, or to simply warm our frozen butts after glissades. The hike out was uneventful. We arrived at Brainard Lake at 1 or so and enjoyed a quick Sam Adams. Ranger Rick arrived and we scrambled like high school freshman to hide the booze. Back in Denver I slept all afternoon before going to play a show with the band. After a typical night with the band I got home around 3am, unpacked my music gear and loaded up the climbing gear.

7:30am came quickly. My girlfriend woke me and expressed displeasure with my breath tasting of rum and cigarettes. I told her it's part of my Andes training, but I don't think she bought it. We were on the road back to Grays at 8, and were hiking before 10. Lindsay is an inexperienced hiker, but she runs a lot, so we made good time up the trail:

There wasn't a cloud in the sky. This eased my worries about the late departure. At about 13,500 feet, the trail splits to either Grays or Torreys. Our goal was Grays, but naturally I blindly took the turn to Torreys. 20 minutes later I realized my folly, and decided to go off route a bit up talus and a little snow field to get back on route. This wasn't the best idea. Lindsay wasn't comfortable and a squable ensued. Combining activities with a significant other such as hiking can often be problematic when the difference in skill level is so vast. It was a struggle for Lindsay to deal with a foreign environment such as the high mountains, but at the same time it was difficult for me to be completely patient. Long story short, Lindsay toughed it out and crossed the snow fields:

Once back on trail, we came upon a sickly looking goat. It looked as if it were dead, but we noticed it breathing and moved on:

Lindsay started to feel tired, but I urged her on and we arrived at the summit early that afternoon:

We were happy to be on top:

I want to get out to the Gore Mountains soon:

On the way down we came accross a nice momma goat with her baby:

All in all, this was the perfect way to spend a weekend in Colorado.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Good training!     07/01/2008 04:01
Sounds like you are ready for the South American scene, how am I going to get up to that level?
Lindsey needs an axe.
She‘ll feel a lot better wandering around in the hills with an axe in her hand. I‘d give it to her, but that would be inappropriate. Next time we climb, we‘ll make the exchange, then you can give her Old Woodie.


You had the perfect weekend!     07/01/2008 15:48
Apache was a great climb! I definitely want to go back and do the couloirs on Shoshoni!!
Oh, and glad to see you didn‘t do Lost Rat on sunday


Nice report     07/01/2008 22:45
I didn‘t realize the couloir was so green! :-)

Glad you had a good weekend. Let‘s go find something steeper to climb now. ;-)


Ridge runner

The hardest part     02/01/2011 00:24
is the getting up early. But good job on three peaks in three days.

Gores...we‘ll have to hit these up as soon as you finish up your 14ers later this month. Looking forward to our San Juans trip in a couple weeks!


Great report     07/02/2008 18:20
Back on the cancer sticks, eh? I may have a prayer in keeping up with you this summer then.

I‘ve got plenty of questions for you and Steph before you head for the SJs - a bit of information gathering for the big trip.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2015®, 14ers Inc.