Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grays and Torreys via Lost Rat
8.5 miles
3,600 vertical
Jeff Valliere and Dave Hale (Scooby, Shep and Sierra) for Lost Rat, Allison Valliere and Kevin Lund

Needing to do something close to home today, we got a cracking early start from home to meet Dave at the Stevens Gulch TH where he, Emily, Matt and Sharon had camped out. This is mainly a conditions report, so I will keep it brief.

Started at 6:08am. The trail has some snow but was quite frozen and travel was quick and efficient. Made it to the base of the climb a few minutes after 7:00am, spent about 15 minutes gearing up, then were heading up Lost Rat at ~7:20ish. There were 4 people ahead of us, but 2 turned around as a dinner plate size rock skipped down from above and spooked them (they did not have helmets). We soon passed the other two, a couple with their dog. It was her first snow climb and they both seemed a bit on edge (also had no helmets).

The angle was around 40 degrees most of the way and the snow was in great condition, maybe a touch harder than I am used to. Was not wearing my sturdy boots and I was regretting that as it was a bit tough to really kick in. The shaft of my axe would only penetrate a few inches. This seemed to not bother Dave at all, but me being not quite as comfortable or experienced on steep snow I opted to employ the use of my pick most of the way. A bit overkill, but I just feel a bit more comfortable in that situation.

Our progress up the couloir was efficient, but not particularly fast as we were more focused on safety instead of speed. This gulley is deeply inset and the surrounding cliffs are riddled with loose rock. We observed and dodged a few small rocks ranging in size from golf ball to grapefruit size.

If you opt to try this climb, for sure bring a helmet, keep a sharp eye up the hill and maybe even get on this a bit earlier than we did.We topped out around 8:00am, met up with Kevin and Allison who stuck to the standard trail and were spying on us from above. Took a long break, then made the summit of Grays at 8:38am.

It was great getting up there ahead of the slowly approaching masses below and we shared a long break on the summit with one guy before his two buddies showed up. Dave, Allison and I continued on to Torreys while Kevin took a quick glissade. Torreys got pretty crowded with climbers topping out on Dead Dog, skiers, boarders, etc….

Bumped into Steve Nicholls back at the saddle, then his friend Allie and fiancé Sarah further down. We chatted for a while and it was fun bumping into friends up there. Dave ripped the glissade from the saddle, but I could not talk Allison into it, so we stuck to the trail. Walking out was a little slushy, but no bad at all and we were mostly on top of the snow. Back at the car at noon on the dot. Absolutely awesome day. PERFECT weather, great climb, great company.


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