16 October 2011

Way up on the great divide

You made this world to look so nice
I wonder what the next one's like
Grays Peak on left, Torreys on right
We left the trailhead at 0820, after two hours on the interstates and a few minutes on a Jeep trail. Other hikers wore boots and snow pants and carried hiking poles, and we wondered if we were under prepared. We stuffed extra layers in our Flash 18 packs and set out, already above treeline.

The trail was wide and not to steep, but it was covered in hard-packed snow and ice. In the valley, the wind was calm, and the sun warmed us once it topped the ridge.

Once we left the valley, we could see Torreys Peak before us and watch the moon as it neared the horizon. The wind picked up rapidly - the forecast predicted gusts to 55 mph, and that's what it felt like.

At the bottom of the wide slope on Grays Peak, we met a man who had climbed Grays over 50 times and Torreys over 30. We planned on climbing Grays, but he said the trail which split off there was icy and long. Instead, he recommended going to the saddle and then taking a trail up Grays from there.

The path to the saddle was a little sketch. On a 45 degree slope, we had a foot or less of trail, often simply stepping in other people's footprints.

In the saddle between the peaks, we met another climber who had just descended Grays and told us the trail was pretty icy. The trail to Torreys was rocky, but exposed to the wind. My fiance put on her shell, we swapped mittens and set off towards Torreys. We looked back at Grays, and we could see the snowy switchbacks.

We were glad to reach the summit - the views were incredible. We could see the curve of the earth on the horizon. But the wind was fierce and the air was thin, so we headed down after snapping a picture together.