Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Date Posted:  05/10/2010
Date Climbed:   05/07/2010
Author:  ski14er
 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 Image
Tim approaching Grays (left) and Torreys (right)
looking back towards the TH
and finally stood below the East face of Torreys. It was fantastically scary. Image
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). Image
Our new found friends
We 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.Image We were able to ski most of the way, although there were several rock patches we had to traverse over. Image
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 enticedImage
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 Image
Scoping the East Face
and 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.Image
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. Image
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. Image
Tim over the first major cliff band (upper center)
Tim safely at the bottom
Next came the final three riders through the Dead Dog Coulior. Image
Laying down turns out of Dead Dog
They 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. Image
Rat Leg off of Grays
Soft and fully rippable we enjoyed the ski classic ski of the day. Image
Mike sending Rat Leg
Rat Leg Coulior off of Grays Peak
From 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. Image
NW gulley on Belford
Hope you enjoyed.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

05/10/2010 18:21
It‘s always great to meet new friends in the mountains, I have been particularly lucky in that regard this spring - including meeting you at the base of Cameron a couple weeks ago.

Looks like you had an awesome day and skied some excellent snow. Way to do it safely (a belay for the ski cut is always a good idea). BTW, ”Rat Leg” - do you mean ”Lost Rat,” which has a dog-leg shape?


05/10/2010 23:06
Wow looks epic... That 9th picture of you testing the snow is awesome, definetly wall paper worthy. If anyone ever asks you what ski mountaineering is all about just show them that picture haha.

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