Monday evening I picked up my buddy Dave from Tahoe at DIA. We went back to my place in Littleton, drank a bunch of beer and packed our gear. Tuesday morning we got a moderate start. We had to pick up supplies, eat, get gas, etc. Included in our 55LB packs were a couple of cans of evil eye beer and a pint of JD. We arrived to the 221 exit at around 12:00 noon. We started skinning by 12:30 and got to the trail head at 3:00. We took a short rest, ate, and put on some more layers. The weather was holding up well with a few clouds and snow once in a while. After a bit we could see the summit of Torreys looming over the slope of Kelso. It seemed to never get any closer. Finally at around 5:30pm we found a place to set up a tent. We had great views of Kelso Ridge and Dead Dog. Niether one looked like anything I wanted to be on. We set up camp, ate, got drunk, and talked shit about the mountain. The cocktails really hit the spot. The joke of the evening was, "-20 degree bag $500, 4 season tent $450, beer and whiskey at 12,000 feet, priceless". Our plan was to climb Kelso and go over and ski Grays. After a few shots of whiskey and some beer Dave had it in his mind to ski the Dead Dog. Finally at about 11:00 we crashed. That night the wind was so fierce that the tent was folding down on top of me and pushing me over from the side. We got up at 6:00am with the wind still howling. We also had headaches, not sure why? We were a little slow getting out of the gate. We loaded our packs with skis, poles, down, food, rope, rock gear, and a few other essentials. We started on the ridge about 8:00am, an hour later than planned. Route finding was a struggle. I did the route before in the summer but it didn't help us find our way. The conditions were varied. Some of the snow was solid and good to walk and climb on, and some of it was soft causing us to post hole. We found ourselves climbing and traversing on sections of steep snow and ice covered rock. The sections were short but very exposed. They didn't seem that bad until we were half way through a part where you couldn't go back down and one false move would send us ricocheting off rocks until we hit the valley floor. Handholds would break off and footholds were nothing more than a crampon spike on icy smooth rock. It was kind of a rush climbing up the ridgeline only inches from the cornices that over hang the couloirs and rock bands of the face of Torreys. After a few hours we were only half way up. I wasn’t worried about time, but it seemed that we might get to a spot that’s impassable. Dave kept looking down some of the couloirs for a possible escape route to ski down. We continued up with Dave still breaking trail. We kept looking up at this section that seemed to be where we would get shut down. As soon as we get to the base of that section I hear “Dude, can you take the lead on this one”. Great, just what I wanted. Since Dave had been leading all day what could I say? I started up the steep sliver of snow-covered rock above the cliff band. The snow was sloughing off as I trudged my way up. As I looked behind me I saw nothing but air and little slabs of snow flying off over the face. After I shit my pants and pulled myself up to a flat spot, I kept thinking it was a good thing I brought the rope and gear to weight this pack down. Finally we reach the white rock. I think the safest option would have been to cross the top the Dead dog. But no, Dave had to climb right on top of the rock and go across. I followed dave and made the first move which wasn’t too bad. On the back side of the rock it got hairy, airy, and scary. With the rope and gear still in my pack, I proceeded to reach up and grab an icy hold and crampon up the smooth steep rock. My hand was slowly slipping off as I grappled my way up and on top. Whew!!, should have worn a diaper. That was close, a fall here and I would be done. At 2:30 we made it to the summit. Dave went down and skied the Dead Dog and I went on to ski Grays, if you want to call it that. We met back at the tent at around 4:30 or so. It took Dave about 30 minutes to get back and me about 2 hours. The Dead Dog was much faster but a little beyond my skiing ability. We packed up and proceeded to ski out. We got back to the truck at 6:30pm. Time for beer!!!!!
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