Lost Rat Couloir

Grays and Torreys Peaks

I may not be the fiend for mountaineering I once was, but I still feel remiss if a spring snowclimbing season passes by without donning crampons and swinging an axe at least once. Scott and I tackled the relatively mellow Lost Rat Couloir on the NE face of Grays Peak. We arrived at the trailhead at 6am and found conditions to be gloriously summery in the high country. We sauntered up the trail before bushwhacking down a steep talus slope to get into the basin to start the climb.

Scott heads up Lost Rat

It was later than we’d planned, but the snow was still in pretty good shape and we got on the route by 7:30. The climb is aesthetic and very straight-forward, never difficult, maxing-out at perhaps 45 degrees. Scott lead the first half before relinquishing control to me on the second. In 35 minutes, we climbed all 800′ of the route. The top 50′ were melted out scree-on-mud and we started small mudslides as we went. Scott took a left and climbed the nicely consolidated remains of an old cornice to reach the Divide.

Near the top, looking back.

It was surreal. We cruised up the ridge in beautiful weather, chatting and feeling quite spry and casual despite the fact that we were above 14,000′ and, by all rights, should be at least breathing hard. From the summit of Grays (9am), we descended to the saddle and started passing the hoards of ski-toting hikers to the summit of Torreys (10am). On the way down, we got in a fairly mighty glissade (in shorts, not recommended) before hiking out to the sunny trailhead.

Obligatory dramatic topping-out photo.

After a long winter of difficult backcountry access, it’s a welcome relief to have big mountains be so easy. Lost Rat was a very easy climb, but definitely worth the trip.

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