| Torreys Traverse
Memorial Day, a day of grand tradition. Remembrances... picnics... rain(!)... the Indy 500... the Bolder Boulder... and a chance to revisit my old friends, Grays and Torreys. And why not? When I was a kid, Memorial Day was always a spring skiing day.
Bonedale Dolly and I had been planning to ski the Tuning Fork for some time. Naturally the weather didn‘t seem to cooperate, so for that and other reasons there were only 3 of us on the trip: Pioletski, Dolly and her neighbor Craig, with whom I hadn‘t climbed or skied before, but who is a strong climber, good skier and awesome companion. We started out with the usual caveats - go/no go decision at the trailhead, ready to bail at any point - and the usual promise, which is that I‘ll treat the group to breakfast if we do bail at the trailhead.
In fact the weather was quite promising at the start, 7:00 am at the summer trailhead. We had talked about making a traverse out of this trip: up the Dead Dog, down the Tuning Fork and out via Grizzly Gulch. The unknown variable was the snow condition. The temperature had been below freezing the last 2 nights, and the previous night‘s rain had fallen as snow above timberline. All fell into place as we started up the trail:
Near the TH; photo courtesy of 2 passing boarders.
Approaching the bottom of the DD, the snow was soft at the surface but firm underneath; we decided it was good and started to climb.
Dolly and Pioletski approach the Dog
Looking up Grays, there is no shortage of snow:
View up the Bowl
Climbing was rather hot work, but made much easier by the two guys ahead of us, whom we didn‘t quite catch before the summit:
The staircase installation experts
The sun had been out intermittently; visibility was generally good.
Craig and Dolly halfway up
At the summit:
Photo courtesy of the staircase installation crew
Our plans unfolded without a hitch, although a creative little spiral maneuver was required to get a summit ski. We put skis on at the top:
L to R: Dolly‘s skis, Pioletski‘s skis, with summit register
Then, as the clouds came swirling around, we headed down a few feet in the direction of the Grays/Torreys saddle, turned right and traversed west to the ridge, then dropped onto the north face about 50‘ vert below the summit. This put us in the (climber‘s) right tine of the Tuning Fork; the other was dry at the top. Here Craig drops in:
Craig gets serious
and Pioletski follows:
Pioletski tries to look serious
We finally got a decent shot of Dolly skiing:
and by this time the weather had cleared again, allowing a spectacular view to the bottom.
Looking down the run
The Fork rocks, it is 3000‘ vert of uninterrupted fun, and the snow was the best I have skied this spring. Two inches of velvet on top of nice firm neve. There were some big-time grinning going on...
Unfortunately even a 3000 foot run ends eventually. Here Dolly makes the last few good turns...
You go, girl
... before the snow mushes out, collapses under me and sends me for a somersault. Here‘s Pioletski, laughing, digging skis out from under about 3 feet of mashed potatoes:
Happens to the best of us...
Crossing Grizzly Creek was interesting:
Craig staying dry
The hike out was surprisingly pleasant; we all commented on feeling less beat-up than on other ventures.
Hiking down the Grizzly Gulch jeep trail
And with one last opportunity to fall in the creek:
Last crossing (this is actually Quayle Creek)
we were back at the intersection of the Stevens Gulch and Grizzly Gulch roads. I hiked back up to the summer trailhead to retrieve the car, while my companions enjoyed the view back up to Torreys:
One last look
Then it was beer and Cheetos and a promise to do this some more. Thanks, Dolly and Craig, for an awesome day.
Snowpack notes: The Dog faces east, wasn‘t completely frozen and loosened up fast. The Fork, facing north, was both firmly consolidated and really pleasant for skiing on.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):