Monday, February 2, 2009

Saturday, 01/31/09 Torreys and Grays

Torreys and Grays
15 miles
5,060 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave Hale, Steve Hoffmeyer, John Broadbooks, Robert LeClair, Brandon Fuller, Mike Via, Sierra and Shep
Start: 7:30am
Finish: 4:30pm

The Winter Warriors group pulled off another successful day in the mountains on Saturday. There were varied agendas, but to the best of my knowledge, everyone was able to accomplish what they had set out to do.We started up the road at 7:30am and conditions were great as the trail was reasonably well packed, skies were clear and the temperature was reasonable with minimal wind (aside from the saddle to the top of Torreys).

There were several parties ahead of us, including John Prater, Bill Wright and Eric Coppock and several parties behind, a surprisingly busy winter day on these peaks.We took it very easy today, conversing easily and taking many breaks along the way. It was Robert and Brandon’s first outing with us and it was also Brandon’s first winter 14er. It was great to have them along and I look forward to more outings with these guys as they make great company and are strong hikers. If you get a chance, check out Brandon’s account of the trip on his blog, he has a nice write up, some pictures and a cool video.

We all put on snowshoes somewhere near the summer TH for the short stretch to where the snow runs out just prior to the Kelso turnoff. Allison took a chance and left her snowshoes in the car and was just fine without them and if I were to go back soon, I too would probably leave them.

Most who had snowshoes stashed them in the usual area. I put on my Kahtoola running crampons and a few others put on Kahtoola Microspikes. The trail can be quite tricky to walk on the upper sections of the mountain without traction as it is very hard snow/ice and usually off camber. Nothing too dangerous, just very inefficient and frustrating without traction.

Near the Grays/Torreys trail jct., we bumped into John and Bill who were heading down at a near run (they did the round trip in just under 6 hours). We stopped to talk with them for a while and John was nice enough to loan his Microspikes to Allison which helped her tremendously. She was extremely thankful.

Dave and I split off for Torreys, Mike and Steve were higher on Grays on their way toward Torreys (avoiding the snowfield) and the remainder of the group decided to climb Grays only. Dave and I made it to Torreys at 12:20pm and Steve showed up soon after, where we took a long break enjoying the views and each other’s company.

I eventually set off for Grays, hoping to catch Allison and Sierra while Dave headed down and Steve followed me toward Grays. I made it to Grays at 1:20pm and just kept going over the top and down the ridge in pursuit of the group, going fast enough to gain ground, but still relatively easy as to not get hurt in the variable snow and talus.Soon, we were a group again, except for Steve and Mike who were still higher on the peaks.

We decided to drop a bit of elevation and seek warmer temps where we could take some longer breaks and hope that they would catch up. Unfortunately, they were a bit further back than we estimated and we never did reconnect. The trip out was uneventful yet enjoyable and we were all satisfied with another great outing amongst good friends. We were done by 4:30pm and got to endure a bit of ski traffic, but fortunately it was not as bad as I had feared.


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