Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dead Dog Couloir - Torreys - 4.25.2012

Brennan and I wanted to get out for a tour on Wednesday, but with the recent extreme temperatures and freezing levels around 12000 feet, we knew we'd have to ski a high elevation line. We settled on Torreys with its easy access and high elevation. By 6:30 we were skinning up Stevens Gulch in some beautiful soft morning light. 

Brennan stops to enjoy the morning shadows and check out possible lines on Edwards and Grays:

After some interesting skinning over willows, around flowing water, and over thin crackling ice we reached the amphitheater under Torreys. At this point we put our skis on our backpacks, ate a snack and prepared to bootpack the rest of the way. Brennan had hoped to take the fun, direct, and efficient snow climb directly up the Dead Dog Couloir to reach the summit of Torreys. Unfortunately, my ice ax and crampons were in CB, so Brennan was nice enough to compromise with the more mellow hike up the bowl to the saddle between Grays and Torreys. 

Before we could continue Brennan had unfinished business to attend to:








OK, safe to continue...


I love bootpacking up steep snow, its much more efficient for gaining elevation than skinning. That being said, the short boot pack to the ridge worked me, coming back from sea level has been way way harder than I expected.

Brennan nearing the saddle:


Brennan, his GoPro, and Mount Edwards from the saddle:


From the saddle a quick walk up the nearly dry summer trail brought us to the summit:


The morning had started off hazy with a layer of thin high overcast, but when we reached the summit it was clear enough to see all the way to the Elks. Pyramid, the Maroon Bells, Snowmass, and Capitol visible in the distance:


Looking down on the East Face the snow was still firm, we took advantage of the extra time at the summit to eat, stretch, talk, and enjoy the beautiful views. At 10:20 the snow quickly softened, and we prepared to drop in. After discussing our options and looking at the awesome, exposed East face we decided to drop into the East Face before cutting into the Dead Dog Couloir.

Brennan makes his first turns:


Looks a little thin down there:


After 500 vertical feet of steep, smooth turns we cut into the Dead Dog:




The southern walls of the couloir still held surprisingly winter-like snow, which combined with the sets of rock ribs made for surfy turns:


Brennan sticks to the south wall of the couloir, avoiding the sun affected snow in the middle:


The center of the couloir has definitely felt the recent warm weather, rock fall, and skier traffic. Brennan battles some chunder:


Then makes things interesting:


Plop!


After 1200 vertical feet of steep rock walls we reached the apron of the couloir, which held the smoothest snow of the day:




Dwarfed in the amphitheater under the East Face, we stripped off our jackets, ate a snack, and enjoyed the impressive walls of rock and snow above us:


From there a short walk brought us to continuous low angle snow that we followed all the way back to the trailhead.

Back at the trailhead, summertime again:


This was a fun line that I would definitely recommend. Its hard to beat the easy access and myriad lines available in Stevens Gulch. Comparing the East Face to the Dead Dog, the East Face provides more exposure and steeper turns than the Dead Dog.