23 May 2003 - by Tim Holden
Two of us from Boulder headed up Torrey's Peak's "big ole strip of snow"
last Friday (23 May 03). We could drive to the Stevens Gulch - Grizzly
Gulch junction (we could have gone a little further up either branch, but
not much). Started from the car at ~6:30 AM, hoping that sun hit on the
couloir would be hours away. It wasn't. One difficult stream crossing,
one easy stream crossing, and a couple casual hours later (in boots,
minimal post-holing) we were staring up the NW couloir. This is NOT the
big, incut valley east of the summit, but a narrow snow-filled gully just
west of the summit. The climbing is straightforward (no need to rope up
if you are comfortable on 35 deg snow), but it was definitely getting soft
and slushy by the time we topped out. NOTE: we thought that if the snow
conditions got bad we would just bail out onto the rocks on the
right...this was impossible, as the rocks are completely unstable for the
entire length of the couloir. If you want to protect the climb, bring
pickets; rock pro would be useless. We met five others on Torreys (on a
Friday), and there were a couple of folks going up Gray's pretty late in
the day. We glissaded into Stevens Gulch (always worth the effort), and
*snowshoed* out to the summertime TH. It would have been miserable
without snowshoes. We hiked down the road to the car, passing some
significant snow banks, and lots of avalanche debris. Looks like it will
be some time still before the Stevens Gulch TH is accessible.
Stephen Younge adds:
I can echo the point about soft snow. I skied Torreys (Steven's Gulch) last
Saturday. While it was easy to walk on the crust most of the way up, it
would have been miserable on the way out without skis or snowshoes. Enjoy
the snow while it lasts, it's a good year!
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