Torrey's Peak
(NW Couloir)

23 May 2003 - by Tim Holden

Two of us from Boulder headed up Torrey's Peak's "big ole strip of snow" last Friday (23 May 03). We could drive to the Stevens Gulch - Grizzly Gulch junction (we could have gone a little further up either branch, but not much). Started from the car at ~6:30 AM, hoping that sun hit on the couloir would be hours away. It wasn't. One difficult stream crossing, one easy stream crossing, and a couple casual hours later (in boots, minimal post-holing) we were staring up the NW couloir. This is NOT the big, incut valley east of the summit, but a narrow snow-filled gully just west of the summit. The climbing is straightforward (no need to rope up if you are comfortable on 35 deg snow), but it was definitely getting soft and slushy by the time we topped out. NOTE: we thought that if the snow conditions got bad we would just bail out onto the rocks on the right...this was impossible, as the rocks are completely unstable for the entire length of the couloir. If you want to protect the climb, bring pickets; rock pro would be useless. We met five others on Torreys (on a Friday), and there were a couple of folks going up Gray's pretty late in the day. We glissaded into Stevens Gulch (always worth the effort), and *snowshoed* out to the summertime TH. It would have been miserable without snowshoes. We hiked down the road to the car, passing some significant snow banks, and lots of avalanche debris. Looks like it will be some time still before the Stevens Gulch TH is accessible.

Stephen Younge adds:

I can echo the point about soft snow. I skied Torreys (Steven's Gulch) last Saturday. While it was easy to walk on the crust most of the way up, it would have been miserable on the way out without skis or snowshoes. Enjoy the snow while it lasts, it's a good year!

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