Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Date Posted:  09/18/2011
Date Climbed:   09/17/2011
Author:  bf31415
 tutored on grays and torreys  

Wanted to extend my 14er hiking season which in the past ends at the first snow fall above tree line. Did bierstadt last weekend and the snow above 13.5 there wasn't too bad so decided to try and do G&T this weekend. I've done 18 14ers this summer and never needed poles but decide to pick up a set to have with me this weekend just in case...

Was raining lightly around Georgetown as I drove up 7:15am-ish. Jeep trail is in worse condition from earlier this summer and some cars still parking below the private section of the road. What I'm guessing folks in previous threads had called "the trench" is now a bouncey washboard. Made it up to the parking lot and got one of the last spots.

From the parking lot, you could see there was snow on the 13ers to the east of G&T and a low cloud deck. Didn't check the temp but it was snowing lightly at the trailhead. Had all of my ski clothes and solid snow boots (zamberlin) but was still nervous that I might be unprepared for the conditions. I only had my summer hiking pants (rei saharas)-- didn't think to bring my winter hiking pants or my gaitors. But heck, I see people in hoodies, jeans and tennis shoes so maybe I'm just overreacting....

Started hiking at 7:55am.

While still in the willow section, start meeting folks heading back down. None had summited, either due to the conditions (knee deep snow) or being unprepared apparel wise.

Got the first taste of snow on the trail a bit beyond where the trail splits to head up Kelso. It wasn't fresh snow but left-overs which had partially melted and then refroze, and this was in the section of rocks so made things a tad slippery. Wind started picking up as well.

The cloud layer was at about (guess) 13k, and that where there was a layer of fresh snow and it was snowing some. Trail was easy to see and continued up though conditions started to get worse (much more wind, more snow on the trail and wind driven snow). At about 13.5k, stopped to add layers up. Added on the shell over the fleece, pulled out the balaclava to supplement the winter hat, added neck sock, switched from light to ski gloves and pulled out the poles. There was prolly 6-8" of snow at this point and knee/thigh deep drifts. And the wind was really blowing. More folks heading down, most had not summited.

Visibility was poor. At times I could see folks on the switchback above me but they would fad in and out. I had no idea how far I was from the summit and would ask those on there way down how long they had been hiking down to get a feel for how far I had yet to go. Reports weren't good of conditions above and I was worried about the trail fading out. But with hikers above me, and since I could still see the trail, opted to keep going.

Eventually caught up to the hikers above me who had stopped on the trail. And then I realized we where on the ridge 100' horizontal from the rock wind wall summit. Walked over to the summit where two other hikers had just reached as well. Was windy and close to white out conditions.

Summited in a bit under two hours.

Punted on trying to do Torreys.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

09/20/2011 16:03
Would you recommend spikes? Doin the combo this weekend.


re: microspikes
09/20/2011 17:09
Picked up microspikes on Sunday. Hoping to get back up there this weekend. My plan is to carry the microspikes and gaitors along with the rest of my cold weather gear just in case.

Weather forecast for the next several days looks to be sunny and warm (front range) so likely means some thaw/freeze up there. So conditions this weekend might be icier than I encountered on Sat given it was snowing then.

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