Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lost Rat Couloir - 5.30.2011

On Monday Grete and I set out hoping to ski the Tuning Fork or The Emperor Couloir on Torreys. The forecast 60 percent chance of snow and gusts of 55 mph didn't have us that optimistic, but after having both spent time away from the mountains the past week we were both just excited to get out.

The road from Bakerville is snowed in from about 100 yards outside of town, so we quickly parked and switched to the sled. In general sledding up the road went quite well, although there were several large dirt patches that we drove over. It was nice sledding on an established level road, as opposed to some of the silliness we have found ourselves on lately. We quickly had beautiful views of the sun striking Torreys.


The Emperor and Tuning Forks on Torrey 
As we hoped to ski a north facing line on Torreys, which would involve hiking back up the road from Grizzly Gulch, we parked the sled at summer trailhead and started the skin.

Parking Lot
The firm snow provided a fast surface, but we were quickly greeted by the strong wind gusts as forecast. I have never been in Stevens Gulch in the wintertime, so I had a great time enjoying the views as we were bounced around by the wind.

Grete w/ the north ridge of Edwards
As we got closer to the base of the Dead Dog we could make out at least 2 crowns high on the East face of Torreys. Although never in our trip itinerary, these served as a reminder of the recent avalanche death there and the slow transition to spring we have seen this year.

Torreys
As we began to gain elevation towards the saddle between Grays and Torreys the winds continued to increase. Figuring that we could always traverse back toward Torreys if conditions became more favorable we followed the mellow ridge south towards the top of the Lost Rat. As we skinned past 13000' we noticed that the freeze crust was getting thinner and thinner, this was enough for us to finalize our decision on Grays. At this point we felt a little silly for not just sledding right up to the bottom of the line, but in retrospect it was nice to get a bit more exercise and the rolling terrain below the couloir turned out to be a great runout. That being said, I can only image how fast this line could be skied if one were to sled right to the bottom of it...

Grete w/ Torreys

Entrance to the Lost Rat
We dropped at about 11:15, and not a moment too soon, as the clouds moved in by the time we were half way through the 800' chute. As usual, the winds that had kept the snow surface so hard outside the couloir were gone once we were in leading us with deep, but supportable corn.

Grete Gansauer
Little Mike
Below the line we enjoyed 1000 vertical feet of fun rolling terrain back to the sled. In all honesty I was really surprised by the Lost Rat, obviously its not classic, but considering the effort involved it was definitely a worthy adventure, and definitely a good backup for when bigger lines are off limits because of stability or weather.

Happy Mike
The way down was essentially a repeat of the way up, but with much nicer snow for the sled. That is where there was snow...

some sort of ancient ruin

too much of this

so glad this isn't mine
Monday marks a milestone in my short sled skiing career, this was the first day I did not get lost, stuck, delayed or break something. So, regardless of what I skied it was an overwhelming success.