Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Date Posted:  07/18/2011
Modified:  07/19/2011
Date Climbed:   07/17/2011
Author:  jrsundevil06

 Skiing the Grand Canyon AKA Dead Dog Couloir   

This may piggy back the recent TR from Centrifuge (nice report btw) a bit but I think it'll be helpful because we actually descended Dead Dog and can provide some insight for those who are still thinking of getting a ski descent in. I met up with Adam (realhillboarder) Saturday night, set up camp near the trailhead and got some shut eye. We started hiking at 4:45am, probably should've started closer to 4, and arrived at the base of Dead Dog around 5:50.Image
The full moon made it nice and easy in the morning.

We took 10 minutes to get our crampons on, stashed some gear, fueled up and we were off. We noticed two others making their way up already, Trevor (Centrifuge) and John ( Aconcagua08 ), and were happy to know that we would have a good boot pack set!Image
Gearing up and looking at the task at hand

We met up with John and Trevor about halfway up the couloir and it was obvious that Trevor was having some foot issues. This is also when we realized that the runnel aka "Grand Canyon" might wreak some havoc on the way down. Adam came up with a good game plan of knocking down the walls with an ice axe to create an easier traverse. It's in your best interest to cross from skiers right to left as high up as possible because it gets more deep the further down you go.Image
Our first good look at the "Grand Canyon"

We chatted for a bit, made sure Trevor was good to proceed (which he was) thanked them for the good boot pack they left us, wished them well, and were off.Image
Wishing Trevor the best and moving onward.

The snow conditions were good going up which made the ascent pretty easy on us but we could tell that it was warming up quickly and knew that couldn't really mess around too long up top. Image
Me making my way up the couloir.

It took us 2 hours to make it to the top of the couloir, stashed our stuff and made our way up to the summit.Here's Adam making the final push up the couloir.Image
Adam making the final push

There is enough snow at the summit to ski from the top but we didn't risk it given the fact we didn't hike up that part and figured it wasn't worth making those 2 or 3 extra turns not knowing what the snow conditions were like beforehand. We took the obligatory summit shot and headed down to get ready for the descent.Image
Summit shot

We met up with Trevor and John where we stashed our gear and it was good to hear that Trevor's foot was doing better. They pushed onward towards the summit and later enjoyed a nice descent down the saddle between Grays and Torreys.

We dropped in at 9am and Adam enjoyed the first couple of turns. The snow was very soft but stable enough to hold while making jump turnsImage
Adam dropping in

If you hug the far skiers right you'll find the best snow conditions but it won't last long because about 1/4 of the way down you'll hit the sun cupped snow, and the "Grand Canyon" is just below you.Image
Me hugging the right side

Continue to hug the right side until there's enough room to cross over and make turns on the skiers left.Image
The runnel comes into play.

It's definitely a no fall zone when you cross over the runnel. Image
Me crossing over
Making a turn after crossing over

Once you cross over the runnel and are on the skiers left the snow becomes more sun cupped and you have to worry about the debris from fallen rocks but there is more room to maneuver which makes things a bit easier. Image
Hitting the rock debris

If you are hiking up and you notice climbers/skiers above you, DO NOT stop right at the base of the first rock cropping to the hikers left (roughly 1/4 of the way up the couloir) because that is where all the snow from the slough collects. Image
Adam with all the slough debris to the right of him

After you pass the final choke point it is pretty much open to shred away. The snow is the mostly sun cupped here and you might embarrass yourself if you fall here but that's about it.Image
Me entering the open area

We finished our turns around 9:20 and could safely relax and reflect on the fact that we could do such an awesome line on July 17th! Image
This is where my legs were screaming at me!
Adam with Dead Dog in the background. There were two hikers in the couloir at this point.

Taking some shots of Dead Dog on the way back to the car where some cold beers awaited us!Image Image

All in all, there is still enough snow in Dead Dog to have a successful descent but START EARLY because the snow is melting quickly and softens up really fast. Be ready for some adverse conditions such as snow cupping, rock fall, sloughing, and the enormous runnel that can almost be confused with the Grand Canyon. The rocks at the bottom look worse than they really are but still be cautious.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

love the report
07/19/2011 09:21
looks like it was a fun trip down even with the 'grand canyon'! nice meeting you guys


07/19/2011 14:30
It was a fun ski and the conditions really weren't all that bad given the fact that it's mid July!


True addicts!
07/19/2011 14:44
Definitely great skiing for July 17th.


fun climb
07/20/2011 00:13
thanks for writing up our climb!

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