It almost didn't happen.

Sure, we didn't exactly toil for the 10,000 feet of powder runs we got
on Pikes, but that's still a fair bit of exertion. I could feel it as
I fell to sleep that night with plans for Torreys, which turned out to
be pretty ambitious.

For a beginning, we were thwarted by a snow covered road. Thwarted
from driving, that is. This nearly doubled our projected five-mile
skin. And added around a thousand feet of gain to an already fat 3,300

Also, the forecast predicted thunderstorms by noon. We almost gave it
up right then and there. Almost. The alternative was to basically
sprint the entire way in hopes of outrunning the already visible

It was a high speed slog.

With heads down and not much talking, a brief eternity passed before
we reached the trail head. "Finally, we're at the beginning," Ales

From there, we passed two snowshoers, who'd decided to turn around
after seven or eight miles. And two other skiers who'd done the same.

Clouds became closer, but those nearest didn't seem threatening. At
least not yet.

We took a rare break when the Grays / Torreys saddle came into view.
Already exhausted, we saw the last mile as daunting. The sun was still
shining on us and our steep goal, but gloom drew nearer.

Again, we almost gave it up. Instead, we dug deep and charged for the
saddle, and then the summit. Where we spent less than five minutes to
take skins off and hydrate. Blisters burned when we buckled up.

Darkness in the sky surrounded, but the sun was still shining on us.
"Looks like we beat the lightning. Now we must not get caught in
avalanches," quipped Ales.

We did produce some sloughing, as expected. A 6-12" layer of new
rested on pure solidity underneath. Creamy and smooth, the two-day-old
snow was settled yet powdery, without slabbing at all. It grew heavier
as we descended, but skied beautifully for the entire 3,300 foot run.
A gorgeous run, down one of the more visually pleasing faces around.

The ski out was interesting and fun. Fast at times, the trail bobbed
and wove through trees. Occasional open water was avoidable, but kept
us on our toes. We passed from thick trees to open meadows and back on
several occasions. Occasions to look around at the dramatic,
snow-capped valley.

Which the sun never stopped shining on. We'd pulled out our camping
chairs, relaxed, packed everything up and driven away before clouds
covered Torreys.

I fell to sleep easily that night, with a satisfied mind. It was a day
worth doting on.

Bring it back:

On 5/13/07, Matt Duffy <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

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