May 25, 2002
The plan was to have a nice warm up hike of some of the easier 14ers and climb Torreys and Grays Peak together from the Stevens Gulch Trailhead off I-70. Seemed like such a good plan until a storm rolled in and dumped lots of snow in mountains 2 days before we left. Arriving at exit 221 off I-70 it became quickly obvious that my car wasn't making it to the Stevens Gulch Trailhead. Ok, time for plan B, we'll hike up the other side of the mountain. Jeanne and I headed up to Fricso and proceeded to the Chihuahua Trailhead near the Keystone Ski Resort. This made for a longer climb but we thought the route would have less snow on it since it's more southern facing. This is route 2.14 in Gerry Roach's 14er guide.
In the photo below we arrived at the trailhead barely making it there due to all the snow.
We started hiking around 9 a.m. following the 4-wheel drive road up into Chihuahua Gulch. We made the only tracks in the freshly fallen snow and the road climbs through two large meadows.
The road crosses a small creek several times and three crossings have boards across the creek to make it easier.
From the first meadow Torreys(left) and Grays Peak(right) come into view shown in the photo below.
Continuing up the road the trails fork and the Rudy Gulch trail that climbs the south face of Grays Peak head rights and the Chihuahua Gulch trail proceeds north towards the saddle between Grizzly Peak and Torreys Peak shown in the photo below. We decided to proceed to the Grizzly Peak saddle because the route up the southern side of Grays looked pretty steep.
Proceeding up the saddle the going steepens a little and the snow became much deeper. We put on our gators and took turns breaking trail. I would break trail for a couple hundred feet, the Jeanne would break trail. This really helped give the person in the back a rest and we reached the top of the saddle around 12:15 p.m. The photo below is from the saddle at 12,500 feet with Torreys summit as the peak on the left. The false summit is on the right. The going up to the false saddle became really tiring as the snow was about mid-quad to waste deep most of the way up.
Onward and upward we climbed taking turns breaking trail. We finally reached the summit around 2 p.m. and had the summit to ourselves the whole time. Looking over at Grays Peak we could see about 12-15 people on or near the summit but it didn't look like anyone was crossing the saddle to climb Torreys too. We took some pictures and decided to we were too spent to climb Grays also.
The wind was blowing fairly hard on the summit so we didn't stay more than 10 minutes. Going down was much better although the snow made it hard to tell what you were stepping on. We both fell a couple times stepping in holes in the rocks under the snow, but made good time going down. Jeanne is descending back to the saddle in the photo below.
Once below the saddle we could tell a good portion of the snow from that morning had melted. Arriving back at the meadows looked completely different in the photo below.
We arrived back at the car around 5 p.m. pretty wore out from the hike but pleased to see that the road had no snow on it and going out would be much easier than coming in. Normally I don't take pictures of my car but I was amazed at how much snow melted throughout the course of the day.