Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Date Posted:  05/18/2010
Modified:  05/20/2010
Date Climbed:   05/16/2010
Author:  gpeoples
 Grays Snowy Slog....  

Trail Elevation Start: 10,400 ft.
Elevation Gain: 3870 ft.
Hike Duration: 7.5 hrs.
Round-trip Length: 10 miles (Nissan Pickup was nice enough to get me close to about .5 miles from Summer trailhead on the way in)

Sunday turned out to be just what the NOAA report said. Blue Sky with 10% chance of precip. in the late afternoon. I knew from previous reports that this was going to be a 10 - 11 mile trip through the snow. But, since many it seems were booting it in on their ski-boots, I decided to leave the snowshoes home.

Bridge at Summer Trailhead:

Parked at about 10,400 ft. on the road. Still a good 1.8 miles from the Summer trailhead. Lucky for me a guy named Chris with a Nissan truck decided to try to make it a bit farther past the first deep ruts in the road. He was able to skirt the ruts and we zoomed by. At this point we saw that there were several 4X4 looking vehicles up at about the one mile point from trailhead. We continued, but then got stuck when trying to turn around. Took us a bit to finally get Chris turned around and headed back down a little ways on the road.

Another hiker, Mark, and I left from I believe close to .5 miles from the Summer trailhead at about 9:30am. A bit later than I wanted, since this would be a long day. The goal for me was Grays, since I have climbed both before in Summer of 2004. I just wanted to get my 1st 14er of the season under my belt.

The snow conditions were no problem with hiking boots, would have been better if I had an earlier start. There were some good tracks to follow into Stevens Gulch.

Grays and Torreys coming into view:

Shot down valley to tree-line

Finally made it to the rocky ridge. There were several skiers out enjoying a great ski decent. A few came down the "Dead Dog Couloir"; conditions looked good for them.
Skier at bottom of Dead Dog Couloir

In the Rocky section just below 13K, ready to swing left around corner..

Hikers and Skiers on Grays West Slope.

Once past the few wooden post signs the main tracks went straight. I wanted to try to stay a bit more on the summer route, so decided to take off on some faint tracks heading more towards the ridge. Well, I found very quickly with the blowing snow and being above 13K feet, I had made a mistake. Kicking steps and sinking in the snow was what I found, but it was good experience and stuck with it. Finally found a faint trial leading across the slope and towards the Grays/Torreys saddle. This time I took the more traveled trail.

As I made it to the saddle, the wind was even more brutal. My temp gauge under my wind shirt showed 29 degrees, I know we had some gusts in the 20 MPH range. So it had to be in the teens or colder. Finally hit the summit at about 2:00PM. So, 4.5 hrs. up was not the plan, but breaking my own trial slowed the ascent down a lot. Note to others, you might want to stay on the main trail if you are just hiking in your boots. Spent a few minutes on top, but the wind wasn't much fun, so after a small amount of refueling, headed for home. Views were magnificent as always at 14K feet.

Summit Shot...Look at that view!!

The hike back was long, over 5 miles because of the snow. Since the afternoon full sun warmed the snow up, there was some post-holing when I reached the flatter parts of Steven's Gulch. But, it was tolerable. Passed the old Railroad house and knew the trip was in the bag. Notice in the picture, the road is clear at this point.
Abandoned Railroad shack

Tired, but satisfied, made it back to the truck right at 5PM. Another great day in the Rockies.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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