| Big lines, good times
By 8:00 we were stuck on the Steven's Gulch road, meaning it was about time to dump the Jeep and don the skins. We got the car out, reversed and parked about a mile short of the summer trailhead. It was a beautiful day, but cold as it tends to be at 12,000 feet. Tim and I were out to climb both Grays and Torreys, in that order, planning to ski the Dead Dog Coulior. We banged out the approach
Tim approaching Grays (left) and Torreys (right)
looking back towards the THand finally stood below the East face of Torreys. It was fantastically scary.
East Face of Torreys Here we met four fellow backcountry riders who were also planning to ascend Torreys. We made quick friends, as they were all easy to talk to and seemed to have their heads on straight (an important quality in any backcounty user).
Our new found friendsWe all continued up together, until Tim and I split to first climb Grays, as the other fellows headed toward the pass leading to Torreys. Tim and I climbed Grays, and skied to the pass conecting Grays and Torreys. We were able to ski most of the way, although there were several rock patches we had to traverse over.
Davenportin from the summit We then hit the pass and climbed Torreys. Here we met back up with the group we had met previously. Standing at the top of the East face, with several new inches, it was tough for me not to be enticed
looking down the East face of Torreys. It was truly amazing to see six people, who did not know each other well, examine a ski route
Scoping the East Faceand then make logical, informed decisions. As it panned out Tim, Mike (from the other group), and I were very interested in skiing the East Face. The three remaining members of the other group intended to ski Dead Dog. Together we all tested the snow on the East face. This consisted of us cutting/ stomping cornices, belayed ski cutting and examing the snow on the face.
cutting and probing the snow We determined it to be fairly stable, and we're willing to ski it. Somehow in the most awkward, undecided game of rock/paper/scissors, I was elected/volunteered to ski it first. If you have not seen this line, it consists of some fairly steep (40+ degree) slopes, with rock fins ejecting, ultimately ending in a series of two large rock butresses. AKA death cliffs if you fall or the slope goes. Needless to say my adrenaline was through the roof, but my focus was complete. What seemed to be a slope with few safe spots, revealed that it only had relative safe spots, but what seemed to me to be a decently safe way to ski it. I dropped in ski cutting hard below a small rock outcropping skier's left. Nothing moved, I kept working my way down the slople, staying high on a sub-ridge (the divison from the east face and the Dead dog coulior. There were several major convexes which concealed the next move. I worked my way down, appearently "skiing like a ski mountaineer" (is that a compliment), through the first butress, by staying left into a smaller chute. This ened in a three foot pinch between the rocks with a small drop/ ice flow, of only a few feet. I cam flying out of this thinking I was safely through the run, only to find out I was directly on top of the final buttress. As I approached this I ducked left luckily revealing small gap through cliffs leading to a chute with dumped out on the final apron. I made it through all this finally making it to the other side of the cirque. I let out a premordial cry as I came to a stop. That feeling of utter uncertainty, fright, excitement, and many more coming out in one loud triumphamt yell. I was done, hope all is well for the next five folks. Mike went next, boarding the face smoothly and ducking out lookers right of the buttres at the end.
Mike cuttin left over the final Buttress Tim went next, taking it to the face, I was glad to see that Tim was really starting to hit his stride here in the 14ers of CO.
Tim over the first major cliff band (upper center)
Tim safely at the bottomNext came the final three riders through the Dead Dog Coulior.
Laying down turns out of Dead DogThey all charge and skied it quite wellXIt is awesome to see such confidence in the backcountry. At the bottom we all celebrated with high fives and general stoke. Tim, Mike and I decided we would go back up Grays and ski the Rat Leg Coulior, which I had scoped on the way in. The two groups split, saying our final congrats and good-byes. We skinned back up Grays, all the way to the top so that Mike could have a true summit decent. We topped out and then headed back to the top of the coulior. In the coulior we found nice windblown and new snow.
Rat Leg off of GraysSoft and fully rippable we enjoyed the ski classic ski of the day.
Mike sending Rat Leg
Rat Leg Coulior off of Grays PeakFrom the bottom we were all (including snowboarder) able to ski out to the cars. Overall the day was a complete success. We climbed both peaks, skied them finding classic lines and pow in both. Good to be back in CO.
Next up Tim and I went to ski Missouri Mtn, Oxford and Belford, it was another great success and the trip report will be up soon.
NW gulley on Belford Hope you enjoyed.
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