Peak(s):  Torreys Peak  -  14,272 feet
Date Posted:  04/26/2017
Date Climbed:   04/23/2017
Author:  JacobW
 Torreys Triple Crown (aka Torreys 10K)   

Torrey's peak serves as arguably the Front Range's ultimate ski mountaineer playground. Clocking in at 14,275' and incredible access of only a 40 min drive from the dino park-n-ride lots, the peak quickly catches the eye of many skiers and snowboarders aspiring to ski off big mountains, reap the harvest of spring corn, and achieve excellent sunglass tans. Three classic lines descend from the summit: Dead Dog Couloir (E aspect), Emperor Couloir (N aspect), and Tuning Fork (NW aspect). After many years of summiting this peak to ski/ride the individual lines, the idea was nested in our minds to link all three in the ultimate Torrey's vision quest. Although we're sure this has been done many times before, we named it Torrey's Triple Crown which turns out to also be almost exactly 10k vertical feet which lead the alternative name for all you spandex spanking skimo folks: Torrey's 10k.

Sam and Tommy on the initial approach

The shenanigans began abruptly at 5 am where about 200 yards up the road from Bakersville someone achieved glory by getting their Subaru stuck in snow on the road. We somewhat begrudgingly spent 30 min helping before deeming him helpless with our resources. At 5:30 am we began cruising up the road. Slow and steady was the name of the game, especially with setting the skin track up the summer trail after the new snow/wind covered the prior track. At the saddle between Gray's and Torrey's we were pleasantly greeted with the standard 30-40 mph constant wind whipping across the divide. After a quick, only marginally miserable skin to boot up to the summit of Torrey's, we were ready to drop into Dead Dog by 10:30am. We also were able to receive beta on Emperor on the summit from a guy who booted up it who said the top 1000 ft was blower powder, bottom 2000 ft boiler plate. That's ok for us, we figured by the time we'd drop it the bottom would have thermally warmed to be at least fun to ski.

Jacob, dropping into the east face

Tommy, nursing the soft snow on the skier's right near the top of Dead Dog

Dropping into the east face from the summit we found awesome snow warmed to perfection with only a few tracks from the previous day. We stayed on the east face just briefly, until exiting into Dead Dog at the first chute on the skier's left (roughly 50 feet below the summit). The couloir had already flushed most likely on Saturday when the sun poked out, so the center was an icy bed surface mixed with refrozen death-cookies, but skiers right was oh-so-creamy pow. ~1000 ft of surfing the right hand break deposited us into the debris field which only lasted ~300 ft before we were able to open it up in the apron. At this point we said goodbye to Sam who wasn't feeling great from apparently inhaling titanium particles the day before? Tommy and I reapplied sunscreen, ate some snacks, and put the skins back on ready for a nice causal skin back to the summit.

Traversing the bowl on Grays for the second time, nice skin track this time

Skinning up felt good with the warm sun, and nicely set skin track. The wind had even died down once we reached the saddle. On our way up the summit ridge we talked to the nice guys we met climbing up Dead Dog for a bit of which they informed us that our friends we were supposed to meet up with to ski Emperor had just dropped as they descended from summit. That's ok, they were able to find all the wind slabs and shark's teeth for us =). We reached the summit and quickly transitioned to drop into Emperor at 12:30pm.

Emperor was as good as it gets. The guy who booted it was right, once the billy goating down the boney top 50 ft from the summit was over, the top of the couloir was a foot of awesome consolidated powder. We hooted and hollered down the top 1000 ft enjoying the steep turns in incredible conditions. Once through the choke we observed that all the sluff that had been sent down was set up on the right side, making for again excellent turns. Once the recycled powder finished, the skiers left with a NE aspect had corned up making for the last 1000 ft. It was suffice to say stoke was still very high after 7000' and two descents.

We were able to follow an old skin track up emperor that then cut over to tuning fork, gaining us 1000 ft of easy vert up into the last line.

Approaching the bottom of Tuning Forks from Emperor with a great view of Grizzly

Where the skin track ended an old boot pack started. However, after 50 ft the wind had filled in the steps, but up to the lookers right it seemed like it picked up again next to the scree. While we transitioned we watched a couple and their dog we meet on the summit earlier make awesome turns, adding to our level of enthusiasm. We decided to commit to booting and left our skins under rocks where we transitioned and started up around 1:30pm. The first 50 feet of booting felt great. However as soon as the wind covered the foot steps, we lost track immediately. Trying to boot up without the glorious stairmaster proved to be very difficult with a foot of powder on top of an icy bed surface, plus the fact we did not to bring crampons. We headed for the looker's right side where there seemed to be a previous boot pack already set. Once we reached it we found that it was mostly wind effect, likely from the west wind blowing over the scree. Although occasionally we found what seemed to be an old track, it mostly consisted of post holeing to the scree, or slipping on the the icy bed surface. Tommy's big toenail is likely to fall off to the level of kicking involved.

After an hour, only 500' up and a few whippet self arrests from sliding on the bed surface, we decided to head to the scree to see how that fared. While the post holing wasn't happening, walking up steep scree has its own challenges. Can you say energy suck? After another hour and only another 500', we decided to make our way back to the snow. After another 50' of slipping, wallowing, and cursing, we looked up to the 900' of it we had left, and decided to turn around. It was really hard to stop just shy of completing the triple crown, but it was 4pm, we had already done 9100', and the shenanigans were just too much. Now I know what it must feel like to live next to a CU Boulder frat house.

One of the better sections of booting up Tuning Forks

Despite the exhaustion, the turns down to the bottom of grizzly gulch were awesome. Back at the base of the emperor, it was quite sad to look up and see how close we had come. There's always the what-if's, what if we left the skins on, could we have skinned up most of tuning fork - probably. What if we just booted up emperor - well there's a greater risk associated with that by the late afternoon. What if someone had set the boot for us - we wished. But there's always next weekend! By 5pm we were relishing warm Busch left in the back of the truck 12 hours earlier.



My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
04/26/2017 17:05
2X Shenanigans?

04/27/2017 12:00
someone achieved glory by getting their Subaru stuck in snow on the road

Truly the sign that Spring is here!

Good effort!
04/27/2017 13:36
The trifecta is always a big day! I usually like to boot emperor first, then dead dog, then tuning fork, then descending emperor last - but I like your way, too.

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