A little winter camping and climbing 2-3 Dec 2000
Grays, Torreys and Edwards

Early Break while hiking the lower road
Kelly, Betsy, and Bill on lower road
Steve Bremner and Sam the Wolfdog
Mike Erickson
Approaching camp site
Bill and Betsy below Torrey's
Bill Lhotta on Edwards summit after sunset
Steve Bremner on Edwards summit after sunset
The magnificent summit of Torreys
Sam the Wolfdog; Torrey's in background
Grays Peak
Steve Bremner and Sam the Wolfdog on Torreys
Carl on Torreys
Sam chases elk
Sam chases elk
Return to fourteeners

Sam's method was more of the empiricle sort. He proceed forthwith, nose to the ground, intent on tracking the mystery beast to its source. No amount of vocal commands on my part could stop him in his "dogged" quest to solve the mystery.

Sam's course across the deep snow was not one I relished following. Reasoning that the creek drainage connected soon enough with the trail, I continued on our course. As we strode forth, now with more purpose, I was alarmed to sight Sam far below us, in apparent pursuit of a massive bull elk. Normally, to prevent such occurences I keep Sam on leash below timberline. In this case, however, the elk was well above timberline--rare at this time of year.

Soon I reached where the trail crossed the creek, and I struck out to the right, where the remains of mining operations littered the scene.

Grays, then Torreys--I met Carl atop Torreys and the two of us descended together. I met Steve Lipsher where the trails diverge towards the respective peaks. I sighted Bill climbing towards the summit of Grays.

After striking the tent we continued down trail. Relaxed, content to have accomplished much on this weekend. Did I mention that having Sam the Wolfdog along often means an unusually "adventurous" time in the outdoors? Today was to prove particularly adventurous.

As Carl, Sam, and I strolled down the trail we soon came on a curious sight. There was blood on the trail and evidence of a "weighty beast" crossing the trail, and plunging right towards the creek drainage below us. As Carl and I speculated on the possibilities, Sam also began his own investigation.

As the lights went out we realized it might have been propitiuous to have brought headlamps. After dropping the elevation we had a ways to go across snowfield. Calling to rest of our party, we soon heard a response. Sam joined us and soon we were back in the cozy, if cold tent area.

Next morning I was up and ready to climb at the crack of dawn. No one else was even stirring from their tents, so Sam and I struck forth--first on the agenda was Grays. It was a familiar climb for us, this being the third time up for the both of us. As we neared the final 700 feet the wind reared up something fierce. Windchill was minus whatever--very cold indeed.

In this manner we eventually made it up to a suitable camp site above timberline. Though the wind was negligible I was concerned about that night, so I set up my tent below a low rise. The wind was monstrous all night and I was glad I at least had some semblance of protection. When Mike (who is climbing Denali in June) said "that was the worst night I've ever experienced", I chuckled to myself. <You ain't seen nothing yet> I thought.

At this time of year the sun sets around 5 P.M. We had set up our tents by 3:30, and rather than sit around to get cold I suggested to Bill that we might want to go "scout a route" up Edwards. A saddle left of Grays looked easy enough, so we set out. When we had reached the saddle after an hour we looked along the ridge line and said, "What the heck, let's go for it." The race against the setting sun was on. Sam had headed back earlier.

As the sun set we reached the summit, took a couple photos and started immediately down a snow/scree slope.

As a little training expedition for an anticipated trip to Tibet, Bill Lhotta organized a winter camping trip to climb Grays, Torrey's and (time permitting) Edwards. My main motive was to bag Edwards, a high 13er and top 100 peak.

We met at the bottom of the road to Stevens Gulch, exit 221 off I-70 at Bakerville, at 0800 Saturday morning. The plan being to hike the road, then camp up the trail a couple of miles, and on Sunday to climb as many peaks as we could manage.

At a leisurely pace, at first Bill and I went out front. We would stop and wait for the rest of the gang to catch up, then off we would all go again.

Reaching the point where I had dropped my pack I snatched it up and continued to the trailhead. The best course of action I could come up with was to run the four miles down the road to my truck and 4-wheel drive it up the road to retrieve Sam. Something about "getting in the truck" seems to work to get him to give up on his freelance pursuits.

It took just over half an hour to run down the road in my hiking boots, laces undone (no time to stop). On the way down I heard Sam barking to the right of the road about two miles down. I marked the point with a rock cairn and kept on trucking (down the road to the truck).

Sam's barking filled the valley. Desparately I ran up the left side of the creek. At 11,000 feet in hiking boots this is no easy task. Soon I found myself running through deep snow. I sighted the ever-curious Sam harrassing a bull elk fully 6 times his size. The bull elk had by this time stopped running and faced off with Sam. As Sam moved threateningly towards the elk I was dismayed to see the elk lower his head and stab Sam with his majestic set of antlers. Sam yelped and backed off, but soon continued his harrassment. They both continued far faster than I could hope to downcreek. As I crossed their path blood was evident on the snow--Sam's blood.
Engaging the truck in 4-wheel drive I plowed up the snow-covered road. Soon, I encountered Mike on his way down. He reported that he had heard Sam barking shortly before. I soon found the cairn where I had marked where I had last heard him. Stopping the truck I began calling, "Sam, get in the truck". Not one minute afterwards, apparently having heard the truck's engine, Sam came skulking down from the woods. Without a sound he hopped into the back. I didn't find where he had been gored until three days hence. The vet was able to staple it up with three staples and he was "all better" after about a month.