Darrin Young of Smartwool crosses a stream at the base of Torrey's Peak
Darrin (marketing manager at Smartwool – another great Colorado brand) trying to walk on water! We had a number of short stream crossing with no options other than a few hasty steps through the frigid runoff.

For nearly 15 years now, a handful of friends and I have been planning a solid spring/summer ski descent to cap off our season.  Depending on snowpack, the dates have ranged from early May to almost July 4th.  For the 2nd time in the last few years, Father’s Day weekend was the plan.

Getting some great beta from a friend that skied the line earlier in the week, we decided to make the trek up to Grizzly Gulch on the north side of Torreys Peak (14,267’) and ski the Emperor Couloir.  A very aesthetic line runs from the old Grizzly Gulch 4WD road almost right to the summit, making for a nearly 3,000’ climb and descent.  Pulling up to the usual parking area, we considered how sweet it would be to push my new family truckster (a stock Honda Pilot) about 2 miles further along the road and shave off 4 miles RT and several hours from the day.  This was about 6:00am.

The day had other ideas.  About 1 mile into the drive down the rough but not impassible road, it became obvious that I was driving a minivan in trucks clothing and we got the rig stuck in a small runoff creek with some major mud and silt.  For about 2 hours we struggled to free the wheels, add structure for grip and rock the truck out of the spot to no avail.  About 8am, 2 friendly folks rolled up in true 4WD vehicle, threw us a tow line and we were out in seconds.

Jay Getzel (Mountainsmith President) rocking the Mayhem 35 All-Terrain pack at the base of Torrey's Peak
Jay Getzel (President of Mountainsmith) rocking the Mayhem 35 backpack as he steps onto the apron of the couloir and crazy avalanche debris field. It was a solid surface of ice, snow, rock and trees that had all compacted over the winter and the likely numerous slides that rip down this path each season.

Undeterred, once we got our rig turned around and on the safe side of the obstacle (note that many other true 4WD vehicles passed this spot throughout the day), we parked the truck and got geared up for the adventure.  With our start time now looking more like 8:30am, we knew we’d missed our window to summit and ski before the snowpack turned sloppy and unstable.  Nonetheless, we headed up the road and to the base of the climb, hoping to get in a 1,000’ or so of climbing and the chance to harvest some nice corn snow on the way down.

Despite not tagging our summit or skiing the entire line, we had a blast.  The weather was gorgeous, the valley stunning and the climb and ski a were a ton of fun…check out the pics for a little recap.

We skied pretty much right to the dirt, swapped ski boots for trail shoes and made quick work of the walk back to the truck and short drive back down the 4WD road to the summer trailhead.  After some snacks and a beer by the tailgate while taking the in the high alpine views, we motored back to the front range and were settled back in with our families by early afternoon.

A great day in the hills and lesson learned…don’t take your wife’s pseudo SUV on a real 4WD road!!

The Mountainsmith Mayhem and Glissade trekking poles at 12,000 feet on Torrey's Peak
About 12,000’ feet. We stopped just before the couloir turned a left hand corner above and started the final push to the summit.
Jay Getzel telemark skis down a snow field on Torrey's Peak in Colorado
Jay gets his chance to lay down some buttery corn turns on the same line.
Darrin Young telemark skis down the snow field on Torrey's Peak
Darrin ripping some turns as we head down…What I believe is Grizzly Peak in the background. Loveland Pass and Arapahoe Basin lie just on the other side of the snow covered ridge.
Jay Getzel telemark skis out the bottom of the snow field on Torrey's Peak
Jay running out the final turns back to the foot of the couloir and the avalanche debris path.

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