Route: Gnar Couloir -> South Gully -> Grande Couloir
Posted On: 2021-05-30, By: supranihilest
Info: Linked up a pile of couloirs on the Storm group in Silverton today, see pics for route overview. We were able to drive about half a mile from the summer parking area in Velocity Basin before snow blocked the road. There's a large parking area where the snow starts. We booted up the road to the lake then stayed on the right side of it. We dropped our snowshoes (which we didn't use all day) at a strip of dry rock below the ramp to access the Gnar couloir, then put on our crampons and got axes and tools out. We climbed up the access ramp on good snow (the first upward and right angling line on the route overview) before traversing left over cliffs to the base of Gnar. The traverse was steep and exposed but easy. From there it's something like 800 feet of steep snow to the summit ridge of Storm. Snow was great with exception of a short section about 2/3 of the way up, which was just aerated sugar frozen together. Otherwise we almost exclusively French stepped our way up the entire couloir. A second axe/tool was nice for balance. At the top of the couloir we could peer down the south gully, so we knew we could continue down that after summiting. The summit is very close but a super loose and very exposed Class 3 scramble remains. Instead of tackling it head on we dropped about 20 feet down a side couloir next to the scramble, traversed across steep and extremely exposed snow to an awkward Class 3 rock jutting out of the slope that we snuck around, and then climbed up steep snow to the summit. The direct scramble would undoubtedly be harder in current conditions. We reversed our route to the top of the couloir, then plunge stepped down the south gully on firm snow and into Boulder Gulch. In Boulder Gulch we traversed east on snow until we reached the low point between Storm and "East Storm". This is the top of the Grande couloir which spills into Velocity Basin. We plunge stepped down Grande and retrieved our snowshoes, continuing on to "East Storm". If Storm is your only objective it's an easy walk back to the parking area. For info on "East Storm"'s northeast couloir see my other conditions report here: https://14ers.com/php14ers/peakstatus_entry.php?recnum=20128. Gear: ice axe and crampons mandatory. A second axe is probably not necessary but we both found it nice to have. Flotation not necessary. Early start highly recommended.
Route: Boulder Gulch
Posted On: 2017-08-19, By: TravelingMatt
Info: First, the trailhead. From the northern end of Silverton, go straight on the road towards the Silverton ski area -- do not take the Animas/Cinnamon Pass Road to the right. At the first switchback take the road to the right; follow it above the cemetery and turn east (hard right) onto a two-track road. Follow this road almost 1 mile to a locked gate; it can be driven in any SUV or crossover and perhaps 2wd cars with care. Now, the climb. This mountain feels like it belongs in the Gore Range. Hike up the road for 1/3 mile to Boulder Gulch, cross the creek and hike the trail up to 11,600'. Head northwest up Storm's southern basin on gentle terrain. A sporadic use trail exists, but do not count on needing it. Reach the first lake at 11,900'; above here, the terrain can be confusing and steeper than it looks. Left of the lake (northwest) is more direct but right (north) may be less steep and have better footing. Above a pair of lakes at 12,800', curl around west where you face a choice of two north-facing gullies: the eastern (left or first) one is hard-packed dirt and the western (right or second) is ball-bearing angle-of-repose scree. What'll it be, lethal injection or firing squad? I went up the east gully and scree-surfed down the west. Staying along the sides of either gully MAY help. (From the 12,800' lakes you may be tempted to immediately turn south and ascend to the 13020' col with Point 13254, but this will require traversing multiple towers of unknown difficulty on the ridge.) Storm's southwest ridge is gentle and grassy at first but requires an exhilarating scramble over six towers to the summit. Class 3 and a bit loose but not as bad as the gullies. Good luck with this one; you have to really want it.