Torrey's Trifecta

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Torrey's Peak, a Front Range 14er, has three main ski routes:

  • Tuning Fork is the standard Torrey's ski route - a beautiful 40-degree, 3,000 vert ramp
  • Dead Dog Couloir has half the vertical of Tuning Fork but closes in on 50 degrees in steepness
  • The North direct, also known as the Emperor couloir, is exposed, over 3,000 vertical and almost as steep as Dead Dog.

All classic descents on one mountain - how about all three in a day? Unfortunately with the snowy spring, it was not until the last day in June to tick this off my list.

Purely east facing, Dead Dog needed to be skied first. Starting from Steven's Gulch on trail, I made the 3,000 foot climb to the summit in 1:59. (Hmm, with snow from the trailhead, could this be done roundtrip in less than 2 hours?) Skiing straight off the summit into the soft corn of the couloir, I lapped it in less than hour.

First run of the day

Back at the summit I had to walk down about a hundred feet to the top of the Tuning Fork. Though not really steep, the Tuning Fork just has the feel of a big line. Truly north facing, the snow started firm but quickly turned into perfect corn. I skied big, fast turns until it opened up at the bottom - opting not to ski all the way down to the creek. Another 2600 vert of great skiing.

View of Tuning Fork earlier in the spring

Though praising my sub-600 gram carbon Stratos on this climb, four hours climbing all above 12,000 feet was definitely starting to take its toll. 

Looking down my bootpack about halfway back up the Tuning Fork

The biggest, steepest line was the final reward of the day. The Emperor starts exposed and delivers all the way down to the creek 3,000 feet below. 

Emperor visible from I-70

A short hike down to the Grizzly Gulch trailhead and my running shoes to run back up to the other trailhead and my car. Alright I'll admit, I stuck my thumb out for the first car to go by.

Stats -

Climbing: 6500 vertical

Skiing: 6800 vertical

Summits: 3

Total time: 5:08

Time above 11,000 feet: 5:08

Gear -

Boots: LaSportiva Stratos race boots (light on the way up, stiff on the way down)

Skis: LaSportiva GT (Lightweight, holds on ice, 88mm waist for the variable snow)

Bindings: La Sportiva RT

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