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Grays Peak (14,270'), Torreys Peak (14,267'), Mt. Edwards (13,850')

April 17-19, 1998

Author: Gina Pasquale

Climbers: Gina Pasquale, Steve Doorn, Jim Dennis, Eric Ponslet, Lucie Parietti, Norman Hunter, James Hunter, David Hunter

I organized this trip as a way of fulfilling my desire to climb a 14'er in April. Having been unable to summit a 14'er in April for many years past, I had my hopes high for this trip!

We left Los Alamos in a snowstorm, at 7am Friday morning. We were headed for the Peru Creek Trailhead near Keystone Ski Area. We arrived at the trailhead around 1:30 pm. Most of us were on snowshoes. Eric & Lucie started up a couple hours ahead of us on skis, so they chose the campsite in Chihuahua Gulch.

It was a nice site in the trees, around 11,100'. We had a winter-like camp, even though it is technically spring! Norman and his sons dug snow trenches to sleep in. They are quite experienced at this, getting the trenches up in about an hour. It started snowing/grappling at around 6pm, but we were pretty comfortable in our camp by then. We were shooting for a 6am departure for the climb on Saturday. But when it is 18 degrees F and winter out there...

We were on the trail by 6:30, not bad. It was snowing lightly, but you could see the ridgelines in the distance. We headed directly E from camp, for the SW flank of Grays. The snow was in pretty good condition, but we used precautions to avoid avalanche danger. The steepest part of our snow climb was around 30 degrees. We then got to the windblown SW ridge of Grays and were scrambling up snow covered rocks, with some occasional icy spots. Everyone was keeping a good pace, despite heavy packs. Amazingly, there was very little wind! At around 13'000, I noticed a couple of large mountain goats on a side ridge in front of us! We watched them for awhile, and as we headed up, a baby mountain goat appeared between the 2 adult goats! I think they were just hanging out in the sunshine, as there wasn't much vegetation that high. We got to the summit of Grays at about 11 am, in sunshine with a cold wind kicking up.

We were all pretty bushed, but we were eyeing our next objective: climb another mountain? I wanted to head for Mt. Edwards, since I have my sights set on climbing the "Centennials" (the 100 highest mountains in CO), but some other folks wanted to climb Torreys, being another 14’er. And Eric & Lucie were checking out the S. face of Grays for a nice ski descent. So, we split up into 3 groups. The skies were clear and I felt confident that everyone would be successful in their choice.

Steve, James and I headed for Edwards. We dropped 900' to the saddle between Grays & Edwards. The snow was getting very soft and the ridge was quite steep. The sun was starting to beat down on us and I was getting very worried about avalanche danger. We all agreed that it was the right decision to turn back. It is always hard to give up on a summit bid, but the mountain will be there for next time. We headed back up to the summit of Grays.

Meanwhile, Norman, David and Jim went to the summit of Torreys. The ridge to Torreys is very mild: a wide ridge, about a mile long, with only a 500' drop. We watched them from the summit of Grays. And, we could also see that Eric and Lucie had a nice ski down off of Grays. Nice tele turns!! They made trax back to camp.

The 6 of us regrouped at a saddle below Grays, at about 13,500'. We stayed together and got some glissading in. We were all back at camp at around 4:30pm. Happy Hour started a little later, at 5:30, since we all had to melt snow for water. It was a nice, quiet evening, pretty skies, no snow falling, a very peaceful winter camp.

The next morning, we packed up and headed out the trail. Eric and Lucie were lucky to have skis. They were the last ones to leave camp, but flew past us on their skis! We were at the trailhead by 11am. On the way back, we stopped for lunch at the Ranch Restaurant in Fairplay. (Great apple pie!) It was a fun and successful trip! And now I can say: "I've climbed a 14'er in every month of the year! Oh Boy!!


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