Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Date Posted:  06/14/2016
Date Climbed:   06/11/2016
Author:  Chinook
 Skiing the Dead Dog - An 11 year wait   

In 2005 I was on the summit of Torreys Peak looking to ski the Dead Dog, but conditions weren't right. It was cloudy and cold and the route was mainly ice so we bailed... I thought I would come back and ski it the next week, but other peaks were calling. Over the years we had to bail 3 additional times due to heavy snow and wind loading, scared partners, and the road being blocked by a truck.

Saturday, my friend Nate and I finally skied it!

Because of the recent warm temperatures we knew we had to get up and ski this couloir as soon as possible, and Saturday was the day we could both go up. Also because of the warm weather, our plan was to reach the summit and ski it around 9:00 am. This meant that we would have to start the hike around 4:00 am to get up by 8:00 so that we could rest on the summit for an hour. The alarm went off at 1:35 am and the day began.

I met Nate at the Woolly Mammoth lot at 2:20am and we were off. We arrived at the trailhead around 3:30am and started the hike in around 3:50 am under a dark beautiful star lit sky. We could see the Milky Way stretch all the way across the sky from one horizon to the other. I love seeing that!

Hiking in the dark

The trail was dry at first then we ran into many stretches of sloppy snow, every once in a while postholing through. There was also water running down the path from snow melt. We lost the trail briefly as we went a little too high toward Kelso Mtn, but quickly regained it and got back to dry ground. We started to see first light after the signs at 12,500 ft.
First light

There were many more sections on the upper route with deep frozen footprints in them and off and on to continuous snow. We made the ridge between Grays and Torreys sometime around 7:20.
On the ridge

Pano on the ridge between Grays and Torreys

This unfortunately happened more than I wished. I'm smiling on the outside, but cursing the snow on the inside.
Post holing on the ridge

I really started dragging at this point. At the beginning of the hike a decided to just hike up in my AT boots and leave my hiking shoes behind. This was a big mistake. I should have just clipped my boots to my skis and hiked up in shoes as I would not have been nearly as tired and would have saved myself from nasty blisters (more on this at the end of the report). Nate did exactly this and was much faster getting up.

Nate reached the summit around 7:40 - 7:45am and I got up there at 7:50. We met 2 other guys on the summit, one who was skiing the Emperor down. Here is the picture Nate took on the summit.
On the summit of Torreys

Mt. of the Holy Cross from the summit.
Holy Cross

We quickly realized on the summit that the snow was already getting warm, so there was no time to rest on the summit. We had to begin our descent at 8:20 am... No resting for us on the summit!

I dropped in first off the summit down the East face, then quickly cut left into the couloir. Here is Nate about to follow and drop in.
Nate about to drop in

This is the upper part of the Dead Dog (see the white tower on Kelso Ridge).
Top of the Dead Dog

Nate coming down in the upper part of the couloir.
Nate making his way down

Here is my GoPro footage from the summit to the bottom of skiing the couloir. There was one section that was not filmed.

It was quite steep skiing off the summit, and in the top of the couloir and I made several hard ski cuts to see if I could get anything to slide. The snow on the top was great and gradually turned more to mashed potatoes as we made our way down. 1/4 of the way down a big runnel started and we couldn't ski across it. This made us stay on the skier's right side of the couloir almost the whole way down. There were also a lot of rocks that I somehow managed to avoid near the bottom. Once at the apron and out of the couloir, the skiing was great all the way back to the trail!

Nate near the bottom.

The whole couloir with Nate skiing at the bottom.
Nate at the apron almost done

We rested for 10 - 15 minutes at the trail and started the hike back. I was really tired at this point especially going on about 30 minutes of sleep the night before. The snow patches were really melting quickly and rivers of water were rushing down the trail. My guess is by this weekend, all the snow in the lower sections will be gone.

One last shot of Nate and I.
Nate and I

Finally we made it down and I could celebrate skiing the Dead Dog!
Who has 2 thumbs and finally skied the DD?

I pretty much fell asleep in the back of the car as I was wiped out.
Dead tired at my best

Here is a final look at our descent route down.
Our route down

This was such a fun ski descent and I want to do it again next year in early to mid May without the runnel in the middle. I would say that it is pretty much done for this year now with the growing runnel in the middle and continued rockfall near the bottom...

I did get one more present. 2 matching blisters on each heel. I am buying new AT Boots this fall and can't wait to prevent this!

I'm so glad we were able to ski the couloir this spring and it felt great to finally get that monkey off my back. It was everything I thought it would be and then some! A classic ski descent route and I highly recommend it!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Well done!
06/15/2016 09:40
Always enjoy a dead dog report. My favorite ski descent thus far. Truly a classic. Glad you were able to check it off. Oh, and thats a classic blister spot, happens to me every time!

Fun Stuff!
06/15/2016 10:55
I was nice to meet you guys on top of Torreys and fun to watch you drop in straight off the summit. Congrats on the good day. And congrats on finishing up the 3 big lines on Torreys too (Tuning Fork, Emperor, and Dead Dog).

06/15/2016 13:45
Looks like a great time. Glad you got to ski.

Planning to hike both peaks this weekend, not planning for snow folllowing another 70+ week. Thoughts? Think well be good on foot up and down?

Any input would be greatly appreciated!


06/15/2016 19:41
Skierdjs, it was great meeting you too. Nice work hitting the Emperor, then hiking back up the road!

Ian, my guess is that almost all the snow will be gone below 13k, and then you will run into some patches of it above that elevation. You should be fine to get both peaks, but bring hiking poles.


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