Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,275 feet
Torreys Peak  -  14,272 feet
Date Posted:  05/27/2014
Modified:  10/23/2021
Date Climbed:   05/27/2014
Author:  DanielL
 Grays & Torreys: A Bluebird Spring Ski   

Peaks: Grays & Torreys
Elevation Gained: 4,400'
Distance: 12-13 miles
Conditions: Corn!

A Snowy Welcome

After plans to take a ski trip in the San Juans last week fell apart, due to bad weather conditions and food poisoning which took me out for almost a week, my sister and I decided to give Grays and Torreys Peaks a try. We didn't expect that much as far as snow coverage, but at least it was close to town and relatively straightforward. Well, imagine our surprise when we saw this from the trailhead:

A very snowy Grays Peak!

Wow! Look at that! Neither of us had ever seen such good coverage on Grays. Encouraged by this, we put on the skis and powered up the basin, excited to reach our objective.

Skinning up the basin

I'm not much good at panoramas but this was a breathtaking view from the basin:

Looking back:


We skinned past the kiosk (12,000') and weaved a route up to the start of the ridge on Grays Peak. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Torreys and the Kelso Ridge

Skiing along the ridge

Kelso Mtn

Evidence of recent wet activity

So much blue sky!

Following the very established snow trail

Mt Edwards towering above

Due to the wet slab issue in the forecast, we opted to climb Torreys first and then traverse to Grays - that way, we could avoid the cornice at the saddle and hopefully get a continuous ski of Grays. As we approached the connecting ridge, we were pleased to see solid coverage on Torreys' south aspect.

Torreys from the slope traverse

As we skinned toward the saddle, the snow was beginning to soften. Fortunately for me, however, no glop monster attacked this time! I remembered to apply glop stopper to my skins the evening before and I was very pleased with the results.

Up we go...

We were going to take off our skis for the steeper ridge climb to Torreys, but we decided to see if we could make it all the way. It was definitely borderline steep for skinning, but not impossible if done very carefully.

Steep skinning

We were about 150' vertical from the summit when my right toe binding suddenly twisted and popped loose. I feared the worst - a broken binding that would result in having to walk all the way back down. Frustrated, I removed my skis and kicked steps the rest of the way up, shouting out the bad news to my partner and thinking about what a waste this trip could become. However, upon investigation, it turned out that the screws had just come very loose to the point that the binding was partly disconnected.

On the summit, examining the binding

We didn't have the proper screwdriver but a pocket knife worked well enough for a quick fix. Phew! I was relieved that such a beautiful day wasn't ruined after all.

Grays Peak coated in snow

Now for the skiing!

The corniced ridge off the summit

Dropping in!

Getting some early corn

Down to the saddle

Looking back at a short but fun ski

Now on to Grays!

Climbing Grays

Reaching the snowy summit of Grays!

As I reached the snow-capped summit, I recalled last June when I reached the same summit with my snowboard strapped to my pack. I remembered the whole argument in the forum earlier this year about peak icons. Suddenly, I got a brilliant idea!

Note to self: ask Bill to create an icon for summit ski and summit snowboard descents. Now that doesn't happen every day - surely it's worthy of an icon, right?

Anyways, after re-tightening my toe binding again, we figured it was high time to get down, as the temps were pushing upper 40s and the morning was nearly gone. However, the snow wasn't too soft yet, and we had an absolute blast cruising down the slope!

A smile is a good sign!

Zig-zaggy turns...

More zig-zaggy turns...

Mmmm spring corn tracks!

As we descended, I spotted an impressive avalanche cascading down the east face of Torreys. I hadn't actually seen one in action since taking AIARE 1 this winter, and it gave me a new respect for the power and destructive potential of avalanches.

A parting shot of Grays from the valley

We were able to ski across the creek and down the road about a mile before the snow stopped. From there, it was just a quick walk down to the car! I would say that this was the funnest 14er ski to date, and it won't be the last! Thanks for reading.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
05/29/2014 16:25
Looking good.
Saw snowmobiler tracks going up Torrey's last week. Looks like they made it about 1/4 of the way up the tuning fork and then most of the way up Gray's peak from steven's. Lots of skier traffic too. Was able to do a nice climb on edwards, grays and torreys.

Great combo of peaks
05/30/2014 15:41
Torreys is one of my favorite nearby ski peaks, since there are just so many ways to slide down it, from easy to steep to intense! Even Grays has a few options based on snow coverage.

Glad you found a decent backup plan to the San Juans!

05/30/2014 16:41
Yeah, Torreys is one of my favorite peaks - lots of great routes! One of these days I'll ski a steeper line like Dead Dog, once I'm a better skier.

05/31/2014 00:32
Quick question: has Dead Dog slid out already? I was hopng to tell from your first photo, but my eyes suck.

Thanks in advance!

Dead Dog
05/31/2014 06:29
Couldn't tell exactly, but the couloir is completely loaded to the top (click on image 5 of Torreys). I wasn't really looking for beta on the Dead Dog so I'm not sure what the top looks like - sorry! There is a condition update from a week ago by someone who climbed the Dead Dog successfully.

06/02/2014 04:53
Nice report, snow looked real good.

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