Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,272 feet
Date Posted:  04/13/2015
Date Climbed:   04/12/2015
Author:  bmcconahey
 Tuning Fork - West Fork ascent, East Fork descent   

Conditions looked good so we decided on an ascent and ski of the Tuning Fork leaving a car at the I-70 winter trailhead and driving to Loveland Pass where we would ascend Cupid, ski into Grizzly Gulch, skin to the base of the Fork, ascend the West Fork, descend the East Fork, and ski back to Bakerville.

Here is an overview of the route:

Route overview

We started up the ridge from Loveland Pass around 7:20am. Around 12,300 we angled off the ridge to the saddle below Cupid to avoid unnecessary vertical.

Looking at the the angled route to Cupid

No traction was needed and, in fact, the saddle looked like summer.

On the Cupid saddle

We gained the summit of Cupid within about 45 minutes from leaving the Pass and our destination came into view.

Cupid summit with Torreys and Grizzly in the background

We descended skier's left of a small ridge on the eastern aspect of Cupid with nice conditions. There was a soft layer atop the crust, but we never broke through and enjoyed good turns all the way down to a small gully below Grizzly Peak at treeline.

Dropping in to Grizzly Gulch with Torreys and Grizzly in the background

Open turns in the basin

We followed the gully to the base of the Grizzly Couloir where we put our skins on and angled above treeline to the base of the Fork.

Treeline gully on the way to the base of the Fork

Grizzly Couloir

The wind kicked up during the skin to the base of the Fork and provided conditions for eerie photos.

Skinning up to the base of the Fork

We started booting up the Fork around 9:20am under sunny skies but increasing wind. There was a decent boot trail at the base, but it became a bit more faint towards the convergence of the East and West Fork. Crampons were not necessary, but there were few locations all the way up the West Fork that were very firm and where crampons would have put my mind at ease a bit...particularly with the gusting wind.

Booting up the West Fork

Booting up the West Fork

We followed the West Fork all the way to the summit ridge, but it was clear that a continuous ski descent of this route from the summit would not be possible as there were places no snow below the ridge.

Reaching the summit ridge

We reached the summit at 11:45am with weather rolling in: clouds, flurries, and ferocious winds.

Summit shot with weather rolling in

We scouted out the East Fork and found that a continuous ski descent from the summit would be possible. Dropping in, we found great conditions all the way to exit, including through the pinch at the convergence of the two Forks.

Skiing below the convergence of the two Forks

The ski out via Grizzly Gulch had continuous snow except for one 20 ft. section. The stream crossings were easy, though may not be for long. Once we reached Stevens Gulch, we had to walk our skis for a brief stretch, but upon putting them back on we were able to ski all the way to the parking lot. We arrived at the parking lot about 1:15pm.

My first ski descent of a 14er, and what a way to start. Thanks to Pete and Sandro for an incredible day.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Comments or Questions
04/13/2015 16:58
I realize that and apologize. Anyone know how to rotate images in a trip report? They aren’t that way on my computer.

04/13/2015 18:14
That is a really good idea for skiing tuning fork!! Thanks for sharing!

Edited: I took the picture comment out.

04/13/2015 19:26
Using an admin utility, I rotated the appropriate photos and it should be all set.

However, you might need to REFRESH this page because your browser cache may show the old ones.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
04/13/2015 19:28
Brilliant approach! Looks like you guys had a great day.

04/13/2015 19:40
Nice job on the Tuning Fork! I love that face. Too bad this year it isn’t filled in at the top.

04/13/2015 20:06
Thanks to Bill for fixing the "hot mess" that was my TR.
To be clear, the East Fork from the summit was continuous with only one a few rocks to step over on the summit ridge.

04/13/2015 20:15
One time when I skied TF in late spring of 2011 (I think), it was completely full to the summit ridge! All of that upper scree section was covered - we were pretty surprised. What a crazy year that was. I remember going back for Emperor because it was also stuffed to the gills.

Great Idea!
04/13/2015 20:17
I fully plan on doing this next time I hit the tuning fork! Great photos and congrats on a sweet day!

04/13/2015 22:19
Thanks for the idea, added this to the list

I’m too...
04/14/2015 01:55
Lazy to figure this out – what’s the comparison of total elevation gain and total RT mileage between that way vs. starting at I–70 at the bottom of the Grays road? At a glance, it doesn’t look like the total vert is much different

EDIT: Just noticed a trailhead condition update (dated 4/13/2015) which stated the Grays Peak road is now open for the 1st mile, to the Grizzly Gulch road junction. Parking there would make the standard approach shorter and less gain than going in from Loveland Pass.

Nice work getting it from the summit
04/14/2015 15:00
Great pics too

04/14/2015 15:06
We skied Grizzly and TF the day before, so I suppose it was our booter that you were able to use, at least at first. Conditions were surprisingly good, I thought.

Bill, unless someone plowed the road, no one is making it to the road junction. You could drive maybe a quarter mile from the highway. There was plenty of evidence of people trying to drive past where we parked at the end of the dirt, but they were clearly getting stuck.

What gb said...
04/15/2015 14:44
I would agree. On our ski out to I–70, there were signs of attempts at going higher in vehicles without much success. There is one point in the road where all cars end up parking...about the 1/4 mark gb referenced. Not sure what this storm will bring, but if you are starting at I–70 I would recommend just parking in the lot.

Thanks for the booter gb.

04/19/2015 02:40 all the comments about this being a rather intelligent way of looking at this line!
That shot of the Grizzly couloir is pretty intense too!

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022®, 14ers Inc.