Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dead Dog Couloir by Beth Bershader

Saturday June 2, 2007
Torreys Peak 14,267 ft.
Dead Dog Couloir

BMS Hard Snow Day
Senior Instructor: Brian Murphy & Darrell Johnson
Assistant Instructors: Steve Cassin, Beth Bershader
Students: Sharon Adams, Katie Goodwin, Kevin Linebarger, Stuart Paul, Chris Bartle, David Young, Mollie Young
Others: Greg Olson & Lisa ?

I've always wanted to climb the "classic" Dead Dog but every year we seem to wait too long & it's melted out. So when it was decided we would climb it for our BMS Hard Snow Day I was pretty excited.

We drove up Friday evening & parked within 3/4 mile from the Stevens Gulch trailhead. There are still some snow drifts past that that will probably be melted out in a few weeks before the true TH can be accessed. We backpacked in the rain, then sleet, then hail, then grapple, then snow to 12,800 ft. near the base of the coulior in a little inlet out of any avy danger if any should occur. Snowshoes weren't really necessary. There were spots of dry ground & spots of snow with minimal postholing. Although once I put my snowshoes on I was too lazy to take them off & kept them on the whole way in with much ribbing from Brian. We camped at the base since we knew we'd need an early start since the couloir gets an early sunhit & warms quickly. We set up camp as it got dark in the windy conditions. Boiled water & prepped our packs for the next day then ate dinner. To bed between 10-11pm.

I wouldn't say we really slept since it was so windy causing much noise in the tent. It was colder than I was expecting. Isn't it summer YET?!* But we did at least rest our bones & gave our bodies the needed amount of horizontal positioning for the next day. The alarms were set for 4am but about 10 minutes till we hear "Housekeeping" as Darrell our usual senior & Kevin a student hiked into camp. Darrell was stuck in an airport with a delayed flight most of the night & Kevin had family in town so they started out around 2am to meet up with us. Now that's dedication! Freakin nutballs!!

Anywho, we lazily woke up & got ready. We left camp around 5:15a.m. & headed towards our couloir. We began ascending in towards the base as the sunrise lit up Grays & Torreys in orange & pink lighting. The golden sun slowly rose. It was incredibly beautiful & peaceful. Once we reached the base of the couloir we took a quick snack break & stripped some layers by a rock outcropping since it was warming in the sun & we were blocked any breeze.

We started from the base at 6am. Steve led the group as Brian sat in back giving advice then moving up beside the group helping the students. I took up the rear to keep the group together. We ascended slowly but surely.
The slope felt between 35-40 degrees for most of the climb with a section of 45 degrees. My calves were a burnin! The snow was warming quickly & small rocks that were frozen in the snow from the cold night were now shooting down the gully like missiles. There were 2 people approaching the bottom of the couloir & we yelled "rock rock" many times for them as they wizzed down. One hit a student in the leg giving her a pretty impressive gash.

Onward & upward we went. As the coulior doglegged right, we ascended the last section over a short 50 degree baby cornice. Brian chose to top out to the right of the white tower on Kelso's ridge since the snow to the left was unconsolidated. Although this did give us a short challenging exposed traverse at the base of the white tower to get back to the ridge proper. From there it was an 100 yard ascent to the summit. Many high fives & hugs were given. We donned more layers as the wind kicked up & we ate snacks. Took the crampons off for the downclimb, radioed the camp to let them know were on top, then headed off. Down we went through the rock & snow. We passed many skiers on their way up to the summit. I've actually never seen so many backcountry skiers anywhere in CO.

At the saddle we headed on the regular route descending about 100 ft. to where we had our 1,000 ft. glissade. Wahoo! After a small flat section, we had another short glissade then a 5 minute walk to camp! More hugs & smiles all around. We quickly packed up camp & headed out before the snow got too mushy to avoid postholing. The snow was pretty warm though & a few postholes were had by all but not enough to earn a PHD! We finally reached the cars. Cold Schlitz & Pringles from Greg & Strawberry Shortcake from Mollie for Katie's bday were enjoyed by all. I never thought a Schlitz could taste that good!

Another awesome trip with our awesome team!!

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