StatsMountains: Torreys Peak - (14267’)
Route: Started from Steven’s Gulch 4WD TH. Climbed and skied Dead Dog Couloir on the East Face of Torreys
Elevation Gain ~3000’
Distance 6.5 miles
Approach / ClimbI arrived at the Steven’s Gulch TH at 12:30AM and turned in at about 1AM. Road to the 4WD TH was pretty straight forward as usual with maybe a couple new ruts and furrows past the grizzly gulch turnoff. I did see an assortment of 2WD sedans up at the 4WD TH and a few parked below the turnoff as well. It’s up to the driver’s comfort level I suppose. A recent transplant from MN pulled up next to me in a Honda Civic and I chatted with him about 14ers for a bit before he began hiking. I began hiking a little after 5:30AM. I brought avy gear more from force of habit than anything else, a ton of food, fluids and emergency stuff as always. I hiked alongside a few other friendly hikers and skiers on the trail with different objectives. A group of skiers planned to do laps in the gullies that surrounded the Steven’s Gulch area. I soon arrived at the base of dead dog.
I ate some food, put on crampons (not necessary per my next statement) and started up the couloir at about 7AM. The lack of a good overnight re-freeze was evident as my boots sank ankle deep and deeper from time to time. I did not seen a single other soul use the route which surprised me. I didn’t see any recent tracks either.
Setting the booter entailed the occasional knee deep posthole as sunhit began warming the snow. I thought I would have done a lot better starting up the couloir at least an hour earlier, preferably more.
As the pitch got steeper towards the end, the postholing got a little worse and the work got harder. I did however think that the ski was going to be great.
Close to the top of the couloir I saw a climber up ahead who had opted to circumvent the Kelso Ridge crux by dropping low and climbing the last section of dead dog.
SummitI reached the summit at around 9:15 and chilled for a bit, ate some food and took pictures. I was surprised to have an AT&T signal throughout (except at the TH) and had sent pictures and status updates off to friends and my sister at various points on the route.
I chatted with the gentleman from MN who arrived at the summit of Torreys a little after I did. He’d made a stop at Grays as well and came with a couple others. He mentioned that he’d seen me heading up DD as he switchbacked up the Grays trail.
Ski DescentI left the summit at 9:40AM. I followed my ascent route down but in retrospect should have gone down the east face which I would have if I had observed before I’d begun climbing that it still offers an exit into dead dog. I endo-ed slightly before entering the couloir… none of my ski trips are complete without one of those… this was more from over-confidence than anything else…
Once I entered the couloir the skiing was fantastic. I skied the 1000’ from the couloir entrance to a rock outcrop close to the bottom of the couloir at roughly 13,100’ in about 5 minutes. Here I ran into two climbers from Denver who were beginning their ascent. I chatted with them for as bit. It was getting hot and they looked thirsty. From this point down the snow was highly runneled and pockmarked with rockfall and dust. Skiing through this section was tough but still fun. I then stayed skier's left on the apron and found good snow through to the valley floor. The snow was a little wet, but great for ~10AM in June on an East facing route. Once down I sent off a text about the safe descent and hung around for a bit taking pictures and drinking gatorade before I began the hike out.
Back at the trailhead at 11AM I found at least 100-150 cars which is a bit of a rise since the first time I was in this area in late 2006. On the drive out I met the climber, John who I had seen bypassing the Kelso ridge crux earlier… turned out he had had to bypass the crux of the road to the TH. I gave him a ride down to his car and enjoyed chatting about the day.