| Grays Peak - Winter Ascent (02/06/2010)
I'd like to start by saying i'm new to the site, new to trip reports. However, I have to start somewhere. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is appreciated!
Grays Peak - 02/06/2010
First off, thanks to Kevin (Kevin8020) for first getting my into this great hobby, and second taking me with him, again. Even after he has to tell me i need to slow down all the time. I'm very appreciative he is willing to put up with that!
This trip included Kevin (Kevin8020), Sean (my dad), and myself. Sean, being a first time 14er attempt, didn't expect to summit, just to get warmed up for the real thing. He's actually attempting a crazy goal of doing the top 100 mtns in order from tallest to shortest. Obviously, starting with elbert. With that said, he couldn't summit or he would ruin his crazy goal. I however, intended to summit. This was my second winter accent, and second 14er ever attempted. Two for Two baby!!
Our plan was too hike up to Gray's via the standard route, and from there shoot over to Torrey's, head back to grays and then re-do the standard route to Gray's. We had read a trip report from a few days ago, which hinted snowshoes would not be needed(I am in no way blaming the authors of this TR). We made the decision to not get any. Bad idea. If you plan on attempting soon, get the snowshoes. It'll be worth it, unless you are a person who doesn't feel comfortable in snowshoes on regular terrain at times. In this case, I would strongly reccomend you get some microspikes, crampons would help, probably not necessary.
We met up with another group of hikers that made it to the TH at about the same time as us. We basically stayed within earshot of them the whole hike. They of course being smart, had snowshoes.
It was a somewhat nice looking winter day at the start, forecasts predicted 60% chance of snow and 14-22 MPH winds. Avalanche conditions on the East sides (I believe it was the East), were not in our favor.
We got started at approximately 7:30. This being due to a somewhat late start, and having to dig out some fellow hikers very briefly. We got within a half mile of the TH in our 2000 Toyota Sequoia, with 4wd (actually the same guys we helped dig out had the same vehicle). We saw another pair of hikers pass us as we were gearing up, carryin a snowboard and a pair of skis. This was somewhat worrysome to Kevin, who was relieved when he saw that they had ditched them before getting onto any tough terrain.
The first half of the hike looked like this. I was a reasonable amount ahead of Kevin and Sean, and they were somewhat close together. As you can see, it started out a great day.
Fairly soon after, we decided we should get a picture of Sean next to one of his first cairns.
As we approached "the sign" as Kevin likes to call it I got a picture looking up at Torrey's Peak. Really a beautiful mountain this time of year. (This time of day.. if you consider the weather changes..)
Also, Gray's Peak. Which sits just to the left of Torrey's.
Before I bore you with pictures.. The group caught up, and I posed in front of Torrey's Peak.
After this, things got progressively worse. We started to head into thicker snow (without snowshoes), and the weather/visibility got significantly worse. Kevin and I began to hike at a somewhat quick pace, while Sean went at his own pace because again, he was not trying to summit. I had recently bought an Ice Axe(Black Diamond Raven Pro), and used it the ENTIRE hike, although I loved it, there are definitely times when I prefer poles.
Kevin and I continued blasting our way up the mountain, at one point crossing some not very avalanche friendly slopes to stay on the trail. When we got within 100 yards of the summit. Things began to get pretty sketchy. Snow began to blow violently in the wind, mini tornadoes of snow forming in all directions. We lost the route momentarily, and unwillingly began to hike on a rather straight course to the summit. I was on all fours at one point, exhausted but determined.
We reached the summit that I had really told myself was going to have a beautiful view. I'm sure it would have, if Mother Nature had not intervened. That been said, we realized Torrey's was out of the question with the white-out conditions that were beginning to show. (Later as we were almost out of view, we saw what looked like a blizzard/white out on Torrey's).
After taking numerous pictures, we for whatever reason felt pretty darn gangster.
We began to head down the mountain, and took a reasonably shorter route than the standard. However, got our landmarks mixed up and took a "detour" that blew us off course about an hour. Once back on track, we really wanted nothing more than to get back to the warmth of our car where we could sit and relax. (Or so we thought.)
After taking several nice long breaks to enjoy the scenery and the eery silence of the mountains, we made it back to the car. Jogging, just to frustrate Sean.
After Hike :/
After a long time of digging out another set of cars so that we could exit. We headed home, with a feeling of accomplishment. Thanks everyone who helped :)
Total Distance: 8.6mi (From .30 miles below the summer TH)
Elevation Gain 3,040ft
Start Time: 7:55am
Summit time: 1:24pm
Total Time: 8.3 hours
Again, I would love your constructive criticism. :)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):