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Grays and Torreys winter climb. Advice and wisdom requested.

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Grays and Torreys winter climb. Advice and wisdom requested.

Postby alecdavis1992 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:33 am

Hello summitpost. I crave mountain related adventure and I have been lusting after Grays and Torreys via the internet for a while. (I use the word "lusting" because I was recently exposed to the term "summit-porn" on this site and I realized that I have been addicted to it for going on 6 years now) From what I have read they seem to be a relatively basic climb, even in winter. I hope I have not been misinformed. I want to climb them this winter but I must ask if it would be appropriate given my experience level. I will now post a "climbing-resume" of sorts.

I'm 18 years old and I'm an accomplished navigator thanks to the countless backpacking trips I have lead. I am also an experienced "scrambler" having found my own off-trail routes up Guadalupe peak and Hunter peak as well having done a significant amount of climbing in the Wichitas, Oachitas, Appalachians, Texas Hill Country, Rockies and on anything I can find that protrudes from the earth's surface (trees, buildings, etc.). However, the only winter climbing experience i have is a relatively tame hike up the ridge to Kachina peak in New Mexico to reach some backcountry-esque ski territory. Also, I own plenty of appropriate clothing for the trip, i have snowshoes, and with any luck I'll be getting crampons and an ice axe for Christmas.

Side-note: I would not be climbing alone, I have a friend on-board who's experience level is similar to mine.
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Re: Grays and Torreys winter climb. Advice and wisdom reques

Postby Kiefer » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:04 am

Grays & Torreys peaks would be what I'd call good moderate, entry level peaks for winter climbing. Both peaks are going to be nothing more then very strenous hiking with snowshoes but often enough, the winds-temps and exaggerated physical effort required with showshoes (ski's are another matter) will be the crux. Winter climbing is synomous with endurance/stamina.

Anyway....
you'll want to park at the bottom of Steven's Gulch Road at Bakersville, right off I-70. Don't even try to drive the road. I've been up there countless times in winter and there's ALWAYS some idiot who thinks 12"-15" of snow is no match for their Jeep or truck, to say nothing of the deep ruts along the sides.
Walking the road is just that. It's nice in winter, but bring an ipod.
Once you leave the actual trailhead which, by the way makes for a great place to camp, cross the bridge and for the most part, stay treking straight up the valley in a southerly direction.
Thing to keep in mind is a low 13er called Kelso Mountain is directly on your right (west). Try to make haste past its' eastern slopes. They're notorious for slides. Chances are they'll be old snowshoe or ski tracks to follow anyway.

The valley will bend to the right (west) and seem to end in a bowl below Torreys Peak. The South Paw and Dead Dog Couloirs (both are located on Torreys East face) will be dead ahead as will Kelso Ridge. But, Grays Peak will be looming right in front of you climbers left (south).
Depending on snow conditions, you can trek through & up the mild slope and contour gently left to gain what looks like an easy ridge which, will eventually lead up towards the summer trail. Or, head straight up the ridge itself (bypassing the mild slope) if snow conditions are crappy or deep. This is actually a harder alternative but no avy risk. From on top of the low ridge, the path becomes apparent. Stay to the left and basically switchback your way to the summit.
Stay away from the proper North Face. It can slide.
For descending, just retrace your steps.

BTW: Saw your post over at 14ers.com. Sorry you got lamblasted like that. A lot of those folks are more interested in dishing out animosity then useful advice.
If ya want more beta, just shoot me a PM. I'm actually heading up Kelso Mountain in a few days.
Kiefer

Image
Looking at the upper basin and North Face on Grays.
Stick to the left up the slope (next to the doorjam).

Image
A before /after shot of the upper basin and Kelso Mountain from higher up Grays Peak.
The winds can be absolutely brutal! :shock:
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Re: Grays and Torreys winter climb. Advice and wisdom reques

Postby alecdavis1992 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:46 am

Thanks for the reply Kiefer, I can't tell you how much I appreciate some good, solid information and advice. I couldn't have asked for a better answer.

And yes the response I received on 14ers was rather disappointing to me and it was quite contrary to what I had expected. I'm extremely glad that doesn't represent the entirety of the mountaineering community. :P The only reason I posted there was because I was having trouble posting a new topic until I cleared the cookies and logged out.
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Re: Grays and Torreys winter climb. Advice and wisdom reques

Postby mosman » Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:25 pm

Any idea how many miles of hiking it adds to walk up the road to the trailhead from 70?
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