| Summer skiing in the Front Range
We drove out from Aspen this morning to the Front Range for a quick summit and ski of Torreys and Grays Peaks. After exiting I-70, we made quick work of the "rut" in a 4wd X-terra and got up to the summer trailhead with no problems. We got a VERY early start of 7:00AM and started down the VERY technical hiking trail after crossing the bridge.
Pretty soon Torreys came into view, along with our descent route, the Dead Dog couloir.
Since we got a late start, we figured it would be easier to take the trail up to the saddle between Grays and Torreys and hike up to the summit of Torreys from there instead of climbing directly up the couloir.
Below the last pitch to the summit:
Climbing Torreys with Grays in the background:
We had 4 people in our group today, the makings of our own rock band! Here we are rehearsing on the summit of Torreys:
Once my vocal chords gave out, it was time to get back to business, and this is where things started getting interesting. For anyone thinking of skiing the Dead Dog, note that 9:30AM is WAY TOO LATE to start skiing at this time of year! That's the time we started our descent. I was the first to drop in. I jumped off the small cornice and put a ski cut across the slope. As I skied across the whole slope flowed away below me. Our descent became an exercise in wet slide management.
Some picture of skiing down Dead Dog:
There's also a nasty runnel bisecting the bottom half of the couloir. Annoying, but it actually helped to funnel the flowing snow away as we skied down! Also note that the apron of the couloir is a mess of avy debris and loose rocks in the snow that are impossible to avoid.
Finally reaching the bottom of the couloir, we switched over to hike back up to the summit of Grays:
We saw these guys checking us out and probably wondering what the heck we were doing on the way up:
The trail up to Grays is pretty bare with just a couple of snow patches to traverse:
Robot dance on the summit of Grays:
We were still able to ski right off the summit:
For our descent, we chose a steep, narrow couloir that dropped down from the east ridge. This couloir was a little better protected from the sun, but the snow was still super saturated and the coverage wasn't that great.
Continuing down the couloir, trying to avoid rocks:
Notice that all the snow in the foreground of this picture is a flowing wet slide:
Finally below snowline, we had a quick hike back around to the trail and to our car. The picture below shows our hike out along with arrows pointing out our route on each of the peaks:
Round trip time (car to car): 6 hours.
After completing this trip, it's pretty obvious that ski conditions aren't going to be in much longer. If you go, go early, and take advantage quick before the snow's gone for the summer!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):