Kelso Ridge: Torreys and Grays Peaks
Torreys Peak - 14,267’
Grays Peak – 14,270’
July 19, 2011
Climbers: MtnHub and Peter A
Starting Time: 0545
Return Time: 1415
Ever since my failed attempt up Capitol Peak in 2010, I have been planning to try it again hoping for more conducive weather. As a result, that trip has always been my priority, and one that other climbs would have to work around.
But as I planned and worked out various climbs with other partners to fill in the rest of the days of my 2011 CO vacation, it soon became apparent that the “theme” of my climbs this year evolved to be one on “saws and knives.”
In addition to a climb up La Plata as a warm-up to Capitol plus two more Longs Peak summits, I would trek over the Tour d’Abyss crossing the Sawtooth to reach Mt. Evans, the Knife Edge of Kelso Ridge up Torreys Peak, the Knife Edge up Capitol Peak, as well as the Knife Edge of Meeker Ridge. It was probably my most aggressive climbing vacation ever, but I was blessed with good or perfect weather for all of them.
II. Kelso Ridge: Torreys and Grays Peaks
Having so much fun on our climb of the Tour d’Abyss a couple of days ago, Peter decided he would join me for this one too. Unfortunately Linda had to work. I was prepared to do it solo, but it was really wonderful to have him along again as a partner. Plus it was extremely nice to have him as he had a 4WD vehicle to take us up to the actual TH! I was going to walk the 3 miles up and down if he hadn’t come.
We got to the TH around 0540 and started up the easy, groomed trail by 0545. It was already light enough that headlamps weren’t necessary.
Our first sight of the dual mountains.
Torreys Peak with the long Dead Dog Couloir in full sunlight.
After about an hour’s worth of relatively easy climbing, we reached the junction where the Kelso route branches to the right, leading up to a saddle next to an old mining structure.
Peter heading up to the saddle.
The basin where the standard trail goes up to Grays.
The route pretty much follows the ridge directly, usually going over the rocky outcroppings, but occasionally skirting to the side. Segments of trail are sometimes apparent.
Peter starting up one of the first rocky bumps; the rest of the route is pretty much visible.
Peter climbing one of the steeper sections.
The moon setting over Torreys.
Clouds blanket some mountains to our north.
Baker Mt. (?) to the NE.
The moon setting over the highest part of the ridge.
Still lots of snow in the basin below Grays.
The beautiful rock along this gorgeous route.
Peter starting up another steep section.
A good look at the ridge behind us.
Mt. Parnassus (?) hovering above the I-70/Bakerville exit.
Me climbing up one of the last sections. (photo by Peter A)
The last class 3 climbing occurs just before the Knife Edge. I found it to be very invigorating! This climb is almost non-stop fun climbing with simply stunning views all around! I can see why so many people rave about it! We kept running out of superlatives!
The white rock gates guarding the Knife Edge – the summit is close!
I’m about to pass beyond the Gates. (photo by Peter A)
Peter crossing the Kelso Ridge Knife Edge.
The final push to the summit was looser and steeper than we expected. The pictures from other trip reports always seemed to appear a more gradual incline. We arrived at the top by 1100. We took a very leisurely pace, making frequent stops, not wanting it to end.
Glory at the top! Grays Peak in the background (photo by Peter A)
As Peter had no interest in bagging Grays, I started out ahead of him and sprinted down toward the saddle. I hit the Grays summit about 40 minutes later, stopping only long enough to take a few sips of water.
We met up again close to the trail junction between peaks. As we continued down the rest of the standard trail, Peter kept gazing off into the grasses looking for Ptarmigan. He claimed he’s seen them frequently this time of day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them except at dawn’s first light.
When we were within a half mile of the TH, walking along the manicured pathway with the thick 4’ willows on either side, a white toy poodle’s head peered out at us from the right side. It stared up the trail at us with wide eyes and was a rather unusual sight.
I commented to Peter with a wink, “You don’t often see wild poodles at this elevation, especially this time of day!”
About 20 yards to our right we could see the head of a gentleman squatting among the brush. Later as we drove down the Stevens Gulch road, the same pair was seen walking along the roadway, obviously locals.
Peter dropped me off at my car near the I-70 interchange around 1415. A really enjoyable day!