Dead Dog Couloir – Photos

Posted on April 12, 2010

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So last week, Chris, Collin, Tyler, Andrew and I thought we’d try our luck at Torrey’s Peak. I have been trying to get up there since I took my first trip with the DU Alpine Club up Gray’s Peak in 2006, and then again sophomore year via Loveland Pass, and then again this year with the Alpine Club. I was never successful, and when the weather was predicting 60+ mph winds and -14 wind chill last Friday, I began doubting I would ever make it up there. We still got together and charged the powder at Berthoud, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

A week later, patient persistence (and a super stoked Collin) made us try again this past Sunday, and it was all I could have ever asked for, especially considering I was able to round out my summits of the Front Range 14ers. Tyler couldn’t make it, but the rest of us embarked from Denver at about 6:30am for Bakersville.

Torrey’s from the Road

The first switch back of the road was snowpacked, and the rest of the first few switchbacks at the beginning probably still have about a foot of deep snow. A few cars had made it to the intersection about 2 miles up the road, but there were also plenty of places were you could tell cars had parked, and then as the snow turned to slush, they were more than stuck. I do not recommend trying to drive up the road for a few more weeks at the soonest.

The Boys just starting on the summer trailhead

We made it to the summer trailhead from Bakersville in about an hour and a half, just as the sun was starting to peek over the eastern mountains. About an hour after that, we got a view of the task at hand.

The east face of Torrey’s Peak, with the Dead Dog aesthetically cutting all the way down just looker’s right of the summit

From here, we followed the summer trail (still snowpacked) along Gray’s Peak, and then cut across to the saddle between the two peaks. We then toured for as long as we could until we had to bootpack up the last 300 vertical feet due to lack of snow on the south side. There was a huge cornice along the ridge as well, so we stuck to the rock and the snowpacked summer trail.

Collin was first to the summit with me not too far behind at about 2PM. We could not have asked for a better view on a better day.

Collin, with the Ten Mile/Mosquito Range behind him

Evans and Bierstadt, looking rather bare

Northwest towards Steamboat looking at Hahn’s Peak, did you know there is amazing backcountry skiing out there?

Gray’s Peak, you can just barely see our skin track across the predominate snowfield.

Black Mountain, next week’s project…

Chris, battling what was left of 21st birthday parties for friends over the past two nights, and Andrew, battling gnarly foot blisters in alpine boots, soon joined us on the summit, and the mandatory summit shot was taken.

Hey Ladies! We’re mountain men!

After some celebration, prepping my radical Cross jacket and pants by zipping them together, and loading up the POV, it was time to ski the Dead Dog.

Looking down the east face

There was one set of tracks in front of us, but I still did two ski cuts on the face (Avalung in) before cutting over into the Dead Dog. I performed another ski cut in the dog, and it was good to go! Be sure to check out my helmet cam footage of the decent.

The snow on the skier’s right of the couloir was about 3 to 4 inches of recycled, delicious powder. The otherside was pretty suncrusted and rotten. Ski stoke time!

Andrew about halfway down

Andrew looking back up, waiting for the other pair

Collin, super happy except for the fact it was about to end

Chris, looking as tall as ever

The four of us were absolutely electric at the bottom of the couloir, amazed at the conditions and what we just skied. For me, it was a super special day and am really happy to have finally checked this one off the list, but find myself eager to return for more.

Chris claiming it

Close up of our lines

We virtually pond-skimmed on the slush starting just before the summer trailhead all the way to the car, getting there at about 3:30pm. We got buffalo burgers and beers at Tommyknockers, exhausted but super happy about life. That beer was the best I have had in a long time.

I’ll be racing the A Basin Enduro this Wednesday on team Red White Black & Blue. Come cheer on the competitors if you haven’t yet registered and definitely check out the after party at the Snake River Saloon in Keystone at 5:30pm.

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