Saturday, June 11, 2011

Torreys' East Face Ski - 6.11.2011

Today Conor Byrne, Jordan Scheremeta and I had an absolutely GREAT run down the East Face of Torreys. I've never skied Torreys although the Dead Dog has been on my to do list for quite some time. However, with such an epic snowpack this year, lines to the skiers right of the Dead Dog on the East Face are in! (Thats probably only going to be the case for another day or 2 though.

Arriving at the parking area this morning we discovered that apparently we weren't the only people who had the idea of going up Stevens Gulch today, at least 10 cars had already beat us there. Currently snow blocks the road about a half mile below the summer trailhead, I'm sure this will continue melting quickly, but it definitely has a ways to go. As we reached treeline we were greeted by the now familiar strong haze from the fires in Arizona. Quickly we came within view of Torreys and the plethora of lines currently available on it. Below is our line along with another view of the East face, both pictures I took recently when Jeff Welch and I skied The Goat Finger on Edwards.

We reached the top after a 2:25 hike, passing LOTS of people along the way. 

Conor gloating about his wise decision to bring shoes

East face of Torreys, the June sun has clearly started to have an  effect on the snow

However, of all these groups only two were skiers: one group headed up Grays, the other slowly meandering up the quickly softening Dead Dog. I had a few minutes of anguish along the hike, especially when a plume of smoke so thick obscured the sun I thought it was a rain cloud. Fortunately, as the winds shifted, the heaviest smoked moved towards Denver :). The views from the top were amazing, although limited a bit by the thick fog. 

A very blurry Mount of the Holy Cross in the distance

Chihuahua Basin 
I am very interested in Chihuahua Basin, although the vert is short, there are endless mini golf lines. These lines have a fair amount of variation in aspect, so you could make your way around the compass as the sun warms the snow. I would love to sled up there and camp for a day or 2 to check some of these lines off. 3 more pictures of Chihuahua are below cause I'm pretty stoked about it!

The remains of the enormous Peru Creek slide.
Buffalo through the fog.
When we arrived at the summit at 10:05 I quickly walked out on the East Face to check the snow, which was still a bit firm. However, by the time we dropped in at 10:30 the June sun had completely transformed the snow surface into "time to get moving" snow! The upper pitches of the face are awesome: probably no more than 45 to 50 degrees they provide great open turns above the large cliffs below. Also, there are several very convenient flutes to pull off on to let everyone catch up and potential sluff pass by. Based on the softness of the snow I was expecting some pretty major sloughing, but there was very little over the first 1/2 of the line. I think this is probably because the face rarely if ever goes above 50 degrees. 

Conor & steep, smooth corn

Me enjoying the steep turns up high
Photo: Jordan Scheremeta

So stoked!
Photo: Jordan Scheremeta

Jordan over some exposure

Conor and the melting snow

Looking back up

Following the same line as Brennan Metzler and Andy Dimmen last week

Jordan heading towards some manky snow
Me coming through the choke
Photo: Jordan Scheremeta
Below the choke seen above, the bottom of the line, although awesome, did not have the same perfect corn surface as the top. It was heavily sun affected: wet slide debris, heavy sluffs, and water drainage runnels dominated the snow surface. However, it was awesome as it providing some route finding challenges as well as some really fast out of control turns!

Conor Byrne's POV from the line!


Its easy to forget its mid June for a moment, there is so much snow everywhere, and as long as you are in the wind its still feels relatively cool, but as soon as you drop into a protected aspect and loose some elevation you remember quickly.

This is definitely one of my favorite spring lines I've skied for several reasons. Its long. It has a sustained steep pitch. It has exposure. It has lots of variety. And its rarely in! I'm very very exited about getting to ski this today!

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