Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Post Date:  01/04/2013
Date Climbed:   01/03/2013
Posted By:  wddjr

 First Winter Solo on Grays. Lessons Learned   

I had been planning some type of solo winter attempt for several months. Debating between the Decalibron or Grays and Torreys. I wanted relatively gentle mountains for my first solo winter climb. (My son and I took a shot at Massive last January but did not summit.) My decision was easily made when I was able to drive all the way to the summer TH on Grays (Four wheel drive required).

I made camp just below timberline and dove in at 5 PM for a cold 10-12 hour stay in my tent.


I made it till midnight. It was an exceptionally cold night and I probably camped too high for winter. Lesson 1--I didn't do a good job of planning the camping portion of the trip. My bag was rated for 0 degrees and it was much colder than that. Everything froze, including my propane which I actually had in the bag with me. I abandoned my tent at midnight and drove to Georgetown and found a cheap hotel.

The next morning I had a great breakfast at A Whistle Stop in GT. I highly recommend it.
I was simply going to drive back up and grab my gear and not climb, but my son (his ID is wdavis) called me and encouraged me to give it a shot. So at 9:40 AM I started out. Lesson 2--I started too late to make both peaks.

The Summer Trailhead

The approach--Grays is on the left, Torreys on the right

There was a section around 13,000 feet where the trial traverses the mountain and the snow was very deep and difficult. I didn't bring snowshoes (I didn't need them) but I did use microspikes for most of the upper ascent and most of the descent. They were very helpful.

One of the talus/snow traverses

I didn't bring my ice ax and I could have really used it. Lesson 3--Always winter hike/climb with an ax. It can stop you in a slide and makes ascending/traversing much easier.

I made the summit of Grays just before 1 PM.

Torreys from the Grays Summit

The Victory Formation!

I was down by 3 PM and all-in-all had a great first winter climb. I'll be smarter next time.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Congrats!     01/04/2013 16:11
Congratulations on your first winter summit. Looks like it was pretty windy on top of everything else. Say hi to Will for me, he's a good friend and Colorado sure does miss him.


Nice work!     01/04/2013 16:41
Your a braver man then I! I'm still to novice to try my hand at a winter climb, but next winter I may see if some experienced folks on here could meet up and be a guide(maybe even you brother). Thanks for the lessons learned and good job sticking with it and knocking it out!


Thanks for the writeup     01/27/2013 21:18
I want try this solo in a few weeks. Did my first winter summit last year (Quandry) but with a group.

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