Torreys Peak

snow Dead Dog Couloir
Difficulty Class 3 
Snow Steepness: Steep 
Ski/Board: Advanced, D12 / R3 / II  
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Considerable  
TrailheadGrays Peak
Start11,280 feet
Summit14,272 feet
Total Gain3,000 feet
RT Length6.50 miles
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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This route should only be climbed with consolidated snow, in spring or early summer. Climbing this route in mid-winter could put you in deadly avalanche conditions.


The Clear Creek County Sheriff no longer allows parking along the road to the trailhead. They say they will ticket those who do so and you'll see "No Parking" signs along the road. So, get up there very early and if the trailhead parking is full, you'll have to drive back down to the bottom of the road and walk up. Awful, I know.
Take I-70 to the Bakerville exit (#221). Leave the highway and drive south over to the dirt parking area near the start of Forest Road 189. This is the winter trailhead and even if the upper road is open, low-clearance passenger cars should park here. It's almost 3 miles to the summer trailhead. Continue up the Grays Peak (189) road. After 1 mile, stay straight at a junction. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead, at 11,280'. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.


Once at the summer trailhead, cross the bridge and follow the well-defined Grays trail into Stevens Gulch. Follow the trail for 1.5 miles to a trail sign near 12,100'. Continue to a flat area at 12,300' and up a small hill, with Torreys in view - 1. Near 12,400', leave the trail and hike southwest toward Torreys and Dead Dog Couloir- 2. Continue to a small basin below the run-out of Dead Dog - 3 and 4.

This is a good place to put on your helmet and crampons, and turn on your avalanche beacon. Reach the large snow "apron" below the couloir and start climbing - 5. The terrain quickly gets steeper and the route ahead is obvious as you climb toward the couloir. Near 13,000', the terrain narrows as you enter the couloir - 6 and 7. Just above the entrance to the couloir, you may see a rock outcrop in the center - continue to the rock outcrop at 13,200' where the pitch eases a bit - 8. Dead Dog may look very steep during your early morning approach, but most of it is below 40 degrees.

Rockfall is a hazard in Dead Dog and you may encounter small rocks dropping into the right side of the couloir so it may be safer to stay near the left side. Continue climbing ( 9, 10, 11, and 12) to 13,800' where the route turns slightly to the right. Near 13,900, pass a rock outcrop on the right and continue toward the top of the couloir - 13. Now, depending on how much snow has been deposited at the top, you may be faced with snow angle of 45 to 50 degrees and you may also encounter a cornice. Climb the remaining snow as you aim for the left side of the white rocks seen in 14. More views from this area - 15. Climb the steepest portion of the route and exit the top of Dead Dog - 16, and 17. Turn left (south) and climb the remaining 200 feet ( 18) to reach the summit - 19 and 20.

In Winter

In winter months, the southeast side of Kelso Mountain is prone to avalanche activity which may run over the summer Grays Peak trail. Unless you're confident that the snow in this area is stable, it's best to leave the trail near 11,600' and take a more direct line up through Stevens Gulch before re-joining the Grays Peak trail near 12,100'.


Dead Dog gets an early sun-hit, so start early!
Some skiers drop directly down the east face (approx. 50 degrees) before turning left to enter Dead Dog: 21, 22
A look at Dead Dog with 2 skiers near the top: 23
A closer look at the upper terrain: 24
Fresh tracks: 25


Beware of rockfall in this couloir. Helmet, crampons, and axe are highly recommended.
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22 #23 #24 #25

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