StatsTorreys Peak (14267')- CO Rank 12
June 3, 2006
via Dead Dog Couloir
Class 3, Steep Snow
~7 miles RT, 3040' gain
Participants: Darin Baker, Cynthia Hunt, Mike Teger, Crystal Shaw, Greg Long, and Kevin Baker
The ClimbAll Pics
The Colorado Springs group of the Colorado Mountain Club launched its first ever High Altitude Mountaineering School last year and I was able to sign up for it. After some classroom and field sessions, a group of 3 students plus instructors Greg Long, Mike Teger, and his girlfriend Crystal Shaw decided on Rainier for a graduation climb. We have had problems coordinating schedules for training climbs. Our only climb together before the trip would be Dead Dog Couloir on Torreys, which turned out to be an awesome climb.
We all arrived at the Stevens Gulch trailhead at various times on Friday evening and decided on a 4am start to get up before snow conditions softened. Greg and I setup his nice Hindenburg (sp?) tent that we would be using for Rainier and I slept well at 11K' as the night was very warm. We left the door open all night as the temp was 40 degrees as we prepared to start. I was a little worried that the snow conditions would be too soft, but it all worked out.
As usual, it took a little longer than expected for everyone to get ready, so we set out at 4:25am. There was one party of two from TN in front of us heading up Dead Dog, along with another party behind us that caught up with us at the base. One of the guys was a friend of Greg's who was going to fly off the summit with a paraglider or whatever they are called! He ended up going off the Peru Creek side before we got up there. That would have been a sight to behold. The route up the standard Grays Peak trail had only a few patches of snow left and we arrived at the base of the couloir around 5:45.
Although the route on Dead Dog obviously does not require rope, Greg and Mike wanted us to rope up to get familiar with one another before Rainier. We started out with 2 teams of 3 with Greg and Mike leading. The snow was surprisingly firm in the lower sections despite the warm night, so that was encouraging. A few stray rocks came down from time to time, but nothing close or large. About halfway up Greg decided to call it a day as a lingering cold was making it difficult for him to breathe, so we consolidated into one rope team of 5.
I followed behind Mike who did a great job making it easier for the rest of us as the snow began to soften with the sun beating down. I was too lazy to take my pack off and shed my fleece at one of our breaks and wished I had! Mike cut switchbacks back and forth up the couloir, so I had to step over the rope quite a bit to keep it on the correct side. This was only my second time on a roped climb, so it was nice to gain this valuable experience.
As we neared the split for the direct finish to the summit, a stately mountain goat greeted us as he was perched on Kelso Ridge.
Mike choose the more exciting direct finish to the summit, which branchs to the left at a rock band that we hugged. I enjoyed the stellar views from here as Mike was now postholing in the softening snow.
The slope angle on the direct finish was around 50 degrees. We topped out just a few feet below the summit at 9am. I was glad to get out of the couloir, because you would be tempting fate to be in there much later.
As expected, the summit was a busy place with quite a few people coming up the standard route. The temp was a warm 40 degrees, so we relaxed and refueled. I was hoping to tag nearby centennial Edwards on the way down, but time would not allow it. We left around 9:50 as we were going to practice crevasse rescue on a suitable slope below the saddle. Near the saddle, I met 14erworld member Matt Pierce, who was coming up the standard route. His wife Daedra was in the HAMS course with us, so it was nice to meet him. Just below the saddle, we found a safe slope to glissade as it deposited us all the way down to the high basin. Here we practiced some much needed crevasse rescue with the z pulley, watching many people glissade down, many without ice axes. We called it a day at around 2:15 and were back at the trailhead in an hour or so. Another fine day to be in the mountains!