Quick trips up Grays in the winter are nothing new for me, and that’s what I intended for Friday. I’d never gone up Torreys in the winter, not because it’s difficult but because I’ve just never cared to head over after topping out on Grays. John and I had discussed the option, figuring we’d see how we felt when we topped out and make a decision at the time. Weather was forecast to be as perfect as it gets for mid-winter, so I was optimistic for a good day out and a good workout, whatever the decision was.
We made our normal early start, which meant a 3am alarm. As has been the case unusually often lately, I was awake about 30 seconds before my alarm went off. Coffee, forcing down a large breakfast, checking weather (23F and calm winds at 3am? guess I’d better lighten my layers), and the rest of the morning routine mastered by rote over the years, and I was out the door. A quick drive up later and we were skinning just after 5am.
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve skinned the Stevens Gulch road, and was thankful for it to go by quickly in the dark. Not long after leaving the frozen creek we were passed by the only person we would see in the basin all day, someone just out for a quick skin who turned back around 12,700.’
The air was cool and calm, far nicer than could reasonably be expected for February 1. Two and a half hours in we had put 3,000′ behind us, with great coverage for skinning.
We were able to skin all the way to 13,600′ before it became more trouble than it was worth, the highest I’ve made it up Grays before having to start booting.
I covered the last 700′ in about 35 minutes, with John just a minute or two behind me.
We didn’t stop long, having already decided to run over to Torreys. The air was dead still, calmer than I’d ever experienced that high up. It was so warm I was sweating with just a base layer and wind shirt.
We dropped our skis just above the saddle and made a 20-minute push right on the very fine line that is threshold-at-14k’. The views were spectacular, with visibility about as good as it ever gets.
We took a much-needed 15-minute break on top to rest, eat, drink, and enjoy the views. I noticed traffic crawling on I-70 at the Bakerville exit – apparently weekend ski traffic is in full effect at noon on Fridays now.
The way down was quick, though it would’ve been faster if there’d been enough snow to ski up high. Soon we were back at 13,000′ and clicked in.
The way down was quick and uneventful, and soon we were back at I-70 to make the drive home. Another good day out, with everything going as well as you could ever ask for. Until next time..