Grays and Torreys Peaks

April 7, 2012

Back in October on Jason's birthday we hiked La Plata, so for my birthday we decided to hike Grays & Torreys Peaks for my birthday. We had done them once before, but it was a night hike read that trip report here.. This trip was early in the year to hike these mountains but it had been a low snow year. We found we were able to drive all the way to the trailhead.

We hadn't decided on a route before we left. We we're looking at 4 options: the standard route, Kelso Ridge, the Lost Rat Couloir, and the Dead Dog couloir.

Distance:6.5 miles
Elevation Gain:3,550 vertical feet
Time:6 hours

We arrived at the trailhead at 6 am and began our trek in the glow of the full moon light. On our way up we ran into a couple of guys that had climbed it that night by the full moon just like we had a few years back.

As we neared our decision point for our route for the day the sun came up and lit the mountains in Alpenglow.

As soon as the Dead Dog couloir came into view our decision was made. Plenty of snow all the way to the top and no cornice. Perfect. Well almost.

At the base of the couloir we stopped to put on our beacons, helmets, and crampons. We stowed our hiking poles and got out the ice axes. The walk was over and the climbing began. We also noticed quite a few other hikers starting up the Dead Dog couloir ahead of us.

We caught up with the others early in the couloir. Several intended to ski it so were carrying skis. We also found the snow conditions were not quite as perfect as we'd hoped. The snow was quite icy and very hard to get purchase with the crampons and axe at times.

While ascending I noticed another group starting their way up the couloir. Busy day in the Dead Dog.

Near the top Jason had passed almost everyone ahead of him.

I had gotten by a number of people myself. The big problem with being behind was that everyone ahead was sending a shower of snow chunks down on those below. I got hit by a couple of decent sized pieces, one giving me a bloody nose. A lady above me was hit by a small rock that was flying down, fortunately it hit her pole first so that took most of the energy out of it. I'm sure she still had a heck of a bruise from it the next day.

The summit suprisingly wasn't all that windy. We stayed for a while and enjoyed the day. However the temperature was pretty low and we had to get going again to keep our body heat up.

It was my 35th birthday and what a great birthday it was shaping up to be.

The traverse to Grays Peak from the summit of Torreys was fairly clear so we took off our crampons. Unfortunately I didn't get my poles out. While traversing I slipped on some ice and landed on my right hand hard breaking my right ring finger. Fortunately it was so cold I didn't notice much pain.

As we neared the saddle the winds picked up (that says 32.3 mph).

The windchill dropped too. That says -11. By the time we reached the lowest point the winds were over 40 mph and the windchill -15, but I didn't want to take my gloves off again to get pictures of those readings.

The ridge up to Grays was fairly easy if it weren't for the wind pushing us around the whole time. Still it took us about half an hour to make the traverse.

Two successful summits for the day.

Nothing like a little yoga to celebrate. "the crow"

Still a goregeous day.

On the way down we stopped to check out the Lost Rat Couloir and Jason climbed the spire near it.

We got to see a couple of people skiing the Dead Dog. They were having to take it very slow as apparently the snow didn't soften for them.

Once in the basin the temperatures really warmed up but fortunately the snow on the trail stayed solid it was an easy finish to the day.

Back at the car. I love the bridge at this trailhead.

I usually avoid peaks near Denver due to the crowds, which given the conditions I was still suprised to see so many people. However we had a lot of fun on these mountains and really only saw about 20 other people.

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