Up to Steven's Gulch THI met the Jamies at the base of the 4WD road up to Steven’s Gulch at 5:30AM. Matt was to join us a little later. The forecast was great except for the hellacious 70mph gusts at 13,200’ that were ushering in Sunday’s storm system. We hit the trail at 6:10AM and worked our way up the groomed 4WD road. We got our first views of Torreys and Kelso Ridge at sun-up.
The road went pretty quick. There was no trail breaking fun to be had this time.
The Upper BasinWe got to the trailhead and hung out by the restroom for a bit, eating and checking out an igloo. We met Matt here, geared up quickly for warfare and continued on up the trail at about 8:30AM. The basin above was very windy and any tracks laid by hikers were quickly covered by blowing snow. We hiked along the approximate summer standard route.
We stashed our snowshoes at a convenient spot close to where the trail breaks off to head up Kelso ridge, and continued onward.
The trail continued up several sections of annoying snow covered talus and the occasional knee-deep posthole.
Here’s looking down some of the route we came up, with Kelso Mountain in the background.
We found a few interesting cornices on the ridge up to Torreys from Grays.
Much of the trail is relatively packed down at this point.
Ridges and SummitsWe soon arrived at the trail split off and headed up the Grays Peak trail. Another group of skiers were headed up to Torreys for an attempt on a ski descent of Dead Dog. We decided to settle for a conservative glissade of a more modest slope in the vicinity.
We summitted at around 12:45PM. Here’s a summit pan…
and a view of much of our route for the day…
We spent little under an hour on the summit of Grays eating lunch and getting pictures. Matt decided to head off home while the Jamies and I walked over to Torreys. We met a couple other climbers we knew on Grays’ summit and chatted briefly before heading off downhill. From the saddle Torreys presents quite a distinctive character in contrast to Grays’which is much akin a moldering heap of slag.
We summitted Torreys at around 2:20PM. Here’s a shot of Grays from Torreys’ summit block.
And a select summit pan…
DescentWe decided to descend off of Torreys and the saddle before a well-earned snack break... for whilst we traipsed merrily about the high ridges with reckless abandon, Old Man Wind had set about raising the dead. We stopped at a comfortable spot below the saddle for a snack before the glissade down to the basin. A view of Torreys from our ‘spot’.
From here we began this phenomenal glissade down to the valley floor.
The wind didn’t plan on letting up and was a constant nuisance through the day above timberline. The McClellan ridgeline…
We were back down at the bridge by 5PM harboring visions of Philly cheese steaks with mushrooms... This drove us back down to where we’d parked in a little under an hour. The road is a constant downhill run. Bring skis if you’re climbing these over the next couple weeks. They’d be well worth the extra weight. Kelso Ridge looks prime right now. I'd do this trip again just to climb Kelso... with skis to bring me down from the basin though.