Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Date Posted:  06/11/2013
Modified:  06/12/2013
Date Climbed:   06/08/2013
Author:  AeroDan
Additional Members:   KevinD, Voodoo302, BAUMGARA
 Torreys - Tuning Fork ski   

First...some data:
- Necessary gear: Didn't need skins. Didn't need crampons. Comfortably did the day in Dynafit Mercury AT boots.
- Snow blocked passed down Grizzly Gulch Rd ~0.5 mile after split to Steven's Gulch. Frustratingly, it was only a small stretch of snow. There was quite a bit of dry road after that.
- Approach was 90 min hiking from vehicle plus 2.5 hrs kick-stepping up the Fork.
- Left vehicle at 6:30 am. Temp was 42.
- Partly cloudy day.
- Sunlight started hitting the Fork around 8'ish?
- Snow going up was a bit soft by rocks, but we didn't posthole much once we were away from them and a couple hundred feet up.
- Summitted at 10:30. Temp was 47.
- Descend at 11:15'ish.
- First 1k vert was firm snow. Next 1.5k vert was a raging corn field. Last couple hundred feet got mushy but were managable.
- Multiple stream crossings on the way out weren't too bad.
- A guy on the summit said the Steven's Gulch road was blocked early by avy debris.
- Same guy ascended DD and said it was ski-able, but he didn't recommend it.

So I moved from all Kansas City to Denver on August 10th, 2012. I'd taken a couple trips out here and bagged about half of the 14ers on those trips. Within the 3rd year of taking trips out here I decided to quit my job and move within the first 24 hours of that 3rd year trip out here. I'd learned what the mountains were like in the Aug/Sept months, but I didn't know what they were like when they had snow on them. Given that I was going to live out here in paradise-land, I wasn't going to be confined to only being in the mountains during prime hiking season, so I decided to learn how to ski.

The first time I put skis on my feet was back around Oct/Nov 2012. I fell a million times and defiantly spent money on beer and how-to-ski books rather than lessons. I skied something like 45 days in my 1st season. Unexpectedly, I fell in love with it more than any other activity in my life (including over a decade of cycling). Before I'd even skied once, I'd spent over $2,000 on a full-on AT setup and Tremper's Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. The direction I intended to head was clear from day one. (I mean...I use my gear to decorate my place when it's not in use, my small bookshelf is mostly hiking, skiing, and climbing guides, and maybe one day I'll buy a coffee table to put my copy of Davenport's Ski the 14ers on...)

I didn't actually expect to ski any big-mountain backcountry this year. I solo'd Quandary's east ridge a couple times, but I call that the Kiddie Pool, and it doesn't quite count. (It is a great mountain for many reasons though!!!) Around the time the resorts started closing, I hung my skis up to let some chronically inflamed muscles heal for summer time madness. Just the other week, a group of co-workers started talking about skiing Dead Dog the following weekend. As the weekend approached, everyone bailed. By that time, I was fully obsessing about skiing Torreys. I'd previously obsessed about skiing The Boxcar, but was sadly unable to find anyone to join me. Having to let that ski run go totally sucked. I didn't want a major suckage repeat, so I decided to give the forums here a shot for the first time. To my surprise, a handful of people signed up, and the ski was on!

This ski run is probably the last of my first season of skiing. (My darned peroneal muscles really need to heal...and skiing isn't helping.) I'm pretty stoked to end my first season with a taste of what I wanted all along. I'm now dreaming of what epic madness will ensue in the coming years. Figured I'd share the love and also give back to the community with some snow coverage photos.

Cheers to rockin a long summit ski 7 months after the 1st time I put skis on my feet.

The approach. Pic shows coverage of upper Emperor couloir.

More approach. Pic shows coverage of lower Emperor couloir.

Pic shows coverage of Tuning Fork.

Base of the Fork. Only a couple thousand feet of kick-stepping to go.

On the way up!

View of coverage between top of the Fork and the summit.

Obligatory summit photo

Obligatory summit group photo. Left to right: Eric, KevinD, Me, Nick (VooDoo302), Ryan (BAUMGARA)

Coverage in Steven's Gulch

Coverage on Grays

Looking down the top of the Fork further from the summit. The other fork had excellent coverage as well.

KevinD shredding

VooDoo302 shredding

Eric tearin it up!

More KevinD shred!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Congratulations on your ski descent!
06/12/2013 16:37
Saw you changed the wording of the necessary gear comment and removed the ice axe comment. Thanks! Learning what and how to say things in writing in a trip report is a skill in and of itself.
It looks like you guys had a great day out and I will second nkan, that is quite an accomplishment after only skiing for 7mos. Kudos! The Tuning Fork is a Colorado classic. Hope to see you out on a mountain sometime. Have fun, be safe, and happy turns! Zach


If you are climbing snow, carry an Ice Axe
05/09/2014 12:30
I have to agree with Taylorzs. If you are climbing on snow, you should always have an ice axe with you. People have been killed by getting out of control on a slope without an ice axe. It's minimal weight, and certainly has other uses besides just self-arrest. Hopefully someone new wouldn't just read this report and then go try to do the same thing you did, but either way, better to always be on the safe side both with your choices and advice. Again, echoing what Taylor said, the point isn't to chastise, but to remind you of how your advice can influence others without proper experience.


04/02/2015 19:45
on a first 14er ski - especially since putting skis only 7 months ago. DPS's are the bomb ! - they'd make any intermediary skier into more advanced. People that I talked to all love their DPS's

p.s. And it is funny to see Ryan (Baumgara) to show up on Torreys yet again Nice work, all!


Congrats on #1!
06/12/2013 20:15
Glad to see you had a great ski after meeting you at the HH Thurs!

Think about getting a BD whippet. Ski pole + ice axe in one. I never ski BC without it!


Hey its a fun area
06/13/2013 04:03
nkan02, you took the words right out of my mouth. From your trip report.

”4th time on Torreys is still the charm – I love this peak, it offers a great variety of routes”


More blathering
06/13/2013 18:54
Tayler & Acer: Multiple points noted. Thx for speaking up!

nkan: Thx! Despite spending most of my season studying, practicing, and repeating every weekend, I didn't expect to comfortably be skiing steeper terrain so soon.

As for the Wailer 112s (pures FWIW), they actually set me back as a skier relative to the Salmon Rocker2 92s I started on. The Wailers helped me on powder, but set me back on most other snow textures. They require aggressive and persistent forward drive at all times, which can be hard to maintain when I'm still learning new terrain and snow texture. The front ends are surprisingly quick to grab firmer snow at times when I'm not expecting it, which I'm guessing is due to the 18m sidecut and a binding location that's comparatively far back. In the 10-15 days I've skied them, they've taken me for as many rides as I've taken them.

HOWEVER(!!!), they are giving me constant reminders of what I'm doing wrong and what to focus on, which is helping me progress. Lemme tell ya though, the times when I'm fully driving those suckers is pure magic (much moreso than the Rocker2s I skied quite a bit more)! They take all the input I give them and respond with grace and power equal to what's put in. I think they're worth every penny, and they're one of my favorite possessions!

Berg: The thought has crossed my mind. I'll probably wind up getting one or two sometime next season. The utility of having something to arrest with while ascending or descending as well as having poles in hand is appealing.

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