Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Date Posted:  05/20/2012
Date Climbed:   05/20/2012
Author:  jmc5040
 Torreys Dead Dog Couloir   

This is my first attempt at putting together a trip report so we'll see how it goes...

Stevens Gulch Road seemed a bit more bumpy than last summer, but was easily driven on dry road conditions. We arrived at the Grays Peak trailhead at 04:30 on 5/20/12 with calm and clear weather conditions under a still star littered sky. There were a good 20 vehicles scattered in the parking areas when we arrived.

At 04:55 we started our approach to Dead Dog Couloir which splits Torreys east face. The trail conditions consisted of dry dirt, frozen mud, ice, and snow as we started our climb. There was a considerable amount of frozen run water on the trail at spots that made for some slick spots. It was recognized that at lower elevations a dusting of snow had accumulated from the snow showers from Saturday the 19th mostly on preexisting snow.

Early morning sun hitting Grays and Torreys

Sun rise

Along the trail

Torreys and Dead Dog Couloir

Approaching the apron of Dead Dog, we noticed the runnel on the lower half of the couloir had produced some wet slide activity and collected a considerable amount of rockfall. It is advised to staying to skiers right on your descent to avoid the runnel and rock debris, some of which are a good eight inches in size. The runnel itself is not "Grand Canyon" size as it can still be skied across, but does not make for a smooth descent.

Runnel noticeable from a distance

Near 06:30 we started our ascent up Dead Dog Couloir. It was quickly recognized that boots and trekking poles needed be complimented with crampons and an ice axe. The slope was getting moderate solar heating, but had not yet softened from the nights freeze. At numerous times rocks came whizzing by as my partner warned me from above. Another group of climbers were 50 yards back and they too were warned. This was a good system with moderately spaced climbers. It was interesting to see the various types of spring precip on the slope from the prior day (graupel and sections of unconsolidated powder that had drifted). The unconsolidated snow made for tricky footing at spots, but was easily navigated. We topped out on Torreys Peak around 09:00 with mostly sunny skies and very light winds.

Nearing apron top

In the couloir

Looking down the couloir

Along the ridge to Torreys peak

On the summit

Party at the peak

Grays peak

Kelso Ridge and basin

Due wind loading of snow from the prior day on the upper east face of Torreys we made our way back to the top of Dead Dog to begin our descent. The ridge between the summit and Dead Dog had between 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow and was littered with rocks. The descent down Dead Dog Couloir was very smooth as the snow had softened up nicely by 10:00 under sunny skies. As mentioned above, avoid the runnel on skiers left if desiring the smoothest run with less loose rocks to navigate.

The trail back to the parking lot had heated up considerably on the way down, as all the ice and snow was now water/mud and wet snow. We made it back to the vehicle around 12:00.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice pics
05/21/2012 02:56
Thanks for the TR. What camera were you using on this trip? Your saturation and photo quality on some of these pics looks like 35mm film but I'm assuming it was digital. Thanks again.


05/21/2012 02:59
I was just using my iPhone 4 to snap the photos. Glad the TR was useful.


kelso ridge
05/22/2012 03:36
How did kelso ridge look? A lot of snow? I'm thinking about trying it this weekend and I prefer dry conditions :-)


05/22/2012 15:06
From what I could tell Kelso Ridge had some snow on the upper ridge area as you can see from the one photo. Below that I'm not sure, but based on conditions elsewhere it would lead me to believe it's fairly snow free. The east face of Kelso had some snow lines coming down, but a lot of bare in between.


Steven Gulch Rd condition
05/22/2012 15:11
Thanks for the Trip Report! Any chance that one can use a Toyota Yaris on Stevn Gulch Rd? How close to the TH can one get?


Road Conditions
05/22/2012 16:03
I'm not sure of what your ground clearance is. I drive a Subaru Outback and made it up with no issues. There are a few spots that I took angled and slow with dips in the road and rocks. My only concern would be the clearance. Last summer I took a Subaru Impreza up with 4 people in the car. I had some power issues at the one steep section, but was fine clearance wise. I do think the road was a bit bumpier right now than last summer though. You can drive all the way to the TH.


05/24/2012 03:45
That new snow above 13k sure made things smooth! Nice work!

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