Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday, 12/07/08 Grays and Torreys

Grays and Torreys
15 miles
5,060 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Ken Nolan, Steve Hoffmeyer, Dwight Sunwall

Ken sent out in invite earlier in the week for a Sunday climb of Grays and Torreys and since I had not yet climbed either peak in the month December, I eagerly agreed to join. Even though Steve and I had just climbed Grays and Torreys a few weeks prior, I was looking forward to getting up high again and testing some new gear (La Sportiva Ultranord GTX trail running shoes, Tubbs racing snowshoes), along with spending some time in the hills with good friends, getting some exercise and enjoying some fresh air.

We met at the Bakerville winter TH at 7am and were hiking up the road by 7:15am. Even though it looked brutal up high, the wind was mostly non-existent and the temperature was reasonably mild. Around the first corner, we find a Tacoma stuck, sideways across the road with 2 guys working their tails off to shovel out, good luck with that!

The trip up the road to the summer TH on packed snow seemed to go quickly as we conversed about many things related to mountains and 14erworld of course. From the summer TH to the Kelso turnoff, snowshoes were helpful, but not entirely necessary as the snow was sporadic and not very deep. We stopped at the Kelso turnoff to stash snowshoes and add layers, as the wind seemed as though it would soon be a factor. Due to time constraints, reluctantly I had to bid my adieu and move ahead. I started off a bit fast, but of course the wind was not what I had prepared for and I was getting warm. I decided to back off the pace a bit as to not get too sweaty, but soon after, the trail turned from nice hard packed snow and bare ground to some knee deep postholing/sidehilling which certainly slowed things down and heated things up for a bit.

Around 13,000 feet, the wind picked up a bit and the trail became consistently hard packed as I followed a family of goats. I actually somewhat welcomed the wind as I was a bit overdressed as calling the weather from minute to minute was nearly impossible. I was thankful to have my Kahtoola running crampons which made the going much smoother and almost seemed like cheating. I reached the summit just as the sun made a very brief appearance as the upper 500-800 feet of the peaks were mostly shrouded in cloud. I spent 8 minutes here eating and making some clothing adjustments, then quickly set off for Torreys.

The trip down to the saddle on well consolidated snow was surprisingly quick and easy, but the trip across the saddle and up Torreys seemed to take forever, as the snow was not as neatly packed, not to mention the colder and now pesky headwind/crosswind. I arrived on Torreys summit and did an immediate u-turn. I went somewhat slow and cautious back to the saddle, then worked my way a little beyond the summer cutoff as the snow looked a little better a bit higher. This is where I was very thankful to have some sort foot traction, as the slope seemed steeper than I recall without a packed trail and the snow conditions were variable. Adding to the excitement, the wind was blowing hard down the hill, forcing me to think about each and every step, as the consequences of a fall would be bad news. I felt reasonably safe though as long as I went slow and always had 2 poles planted along with at least one foot on the ground at all times. Without crampons on my feet, I would certainly have re-ascended Grays to avoid this section.

After the “crux”, the going was generally smooth and fast. Once back at the snowshoes, I stowed my crampons and put on snowshoes for faster travel back to the summer TH which was definitely more efficient. The trip back to the car was uneventful and I was surprised to pass crowds of people who had only gone to or near the summer TH, but we saw nobody above all day. I was pleased to avoid ski traffic and made it home at the hour I was shooting for.


7:15am start Bakerville
~10:30am Kelso Turnoff
11:37 arrive Grays Summit (8 minute break)
12:15pm arrive Torreys Summit
1:45pm arrive Summer TH (5 minute break)
2:25pm Finish Bakerville

7hrs 10 minutes total.

No comments:

Post a Comment