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 Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
 Post Date:  05/27/2012
 Date Climbed:   05/26/2012
 Posted By:  zerosignal28

 Good thing it wasn't windy!     

This is the fourth 14er I've done but my first trip report. I started last year with Mt. Bierstadt, and this was the first one in 2012. I've become addicted and look forward to doing many more hikes.

My friend Zacc and I decided about 2 weeks ago to do a hike the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Sure, let's go on a holiday weekend to a trail that is already crowded! Shortly after we made plans to do Grays/Torreys another friend Pat decided to join us. It would be his first 14er. Zacc has done twenty-some, but not in recent years. We decided Grays/Torreys would be a good first hike for the season, and I checked trip and weather reports for the last couple weeks. It seemed that conditions looked pretty good, and the weather forecast called for wind. I saw that some people on recent past hikes brought crampons/microspikes, but I figured they wouldn't be necessary with most of the snow on the trail melted off. Let me just say that the entire hike is certainly possible without spikes, but for anyone who takes the standard route in the next week or so before it melts, they were incredibly helpful! Zacc and I had them, but not knowing that Pat was going until the last minute, he did not. We felt bad because we kept talking about how the difference was night and day, and we moved at a much slower pace to stay with Pat.

We left the Denver metro area around 5:45 and made it up to the TH by 7:15. It was chilly and a little breezy, and I was definitely over packed for a short day hike. I had a bunch of new gear that I guess I was just excited to use, though it wasn't all necessary. I felt better about this than being under packed, unlike Zacc who went up in shorts and no gloves. As I'll explain later, he would regret this. I also brought my GPS watch that tracked our route and climbing time, and I'm hoping I can figure out how to post this in the report. Another tough decision to make was, do I bring my 3.1 megapixel camera that is the size and weight of a brick, or my wife's nice 8 megapixel credit card-sized PINK camera? I decided to swallow my pride and go with hers. HA! It made for better quality pictures anyway.

I've read a lot of trip reports and many of them I wish were more detailed. I think it's easier to know what to expect when you get more details, so forgive me if I go on too much, but I feel that it's helpful for those who are taking a route for the first time.

The first mile or so of the hike is an easy gradual climb with just a little bit of hard packed snow that is nothing to worry about.

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About 3/4 mile into the hike you come into view of both peaks, and to me it's a great feeling. You see hundreds of pictures, but when you actually get there to see it for yourself, it's a totally different perspective. It's like seeing your favorite baseball park on television hundreds of times, but when you get there to experience it, it's an incredible feeling that sends chills down your spine.

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campers at the base of Torreys


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Zacc & Pat


By the time you get to the bottom of Kelso ridge, a small trail fades off to the right side up to the saddle. We stopped for a second and contemplated this route instead. I've never done anything more than a class 2 hike, but I was ambitious. We also decided that with anything less than perfect conditions, no helmets, and Pat on his first 14er, we should just do the standard route. We made pretty good time to get out of tree line before the trail started getting a little bit steeper. This is where the trail was a mixture of rocks and packed snow, and Zacc and I decided to put the micro spikes on. As I stated before, they were extremely helpful and I felt like I could move at a pace about twice as fast as without them.

We stopped to get some pictures of the three of us, talked with a few other hikers, one of them a Chicago fan, and me in my Pittsburgh Pirates hat, we discussed which franchise is the most pathetic in this modern era. Of course they had to comment on my shiny pink camera. Laugh it up, guys, I've already heard it plenty of times before.

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From this point there was enough snow that we lost the trail, but with the heavy crowds and the summit in sight the whole way, it's not like you can get lost. Some people chose to go straight up, and others took a switchback approach. Being less in shape than any of us believe we are, we chose the switchbacks.

Nevermind the fact that every 50 feet or so we had to stop and catch our breath, but the wind really started to pick up now. It made each step that much more difficult. We met a few people on their way down who said it was incredibly windy at the top, but I still underestimated their advice. This was the first part of the trip that Zacc regretted not bringing his gloves. He had to borrow Pat's for a little while, reminding us of a classic scene in Dumb & Dumber..."Here, you should take my other pair of gloves. My hands are getting kinda sweaty." "You had these gloves this whole time??" "Yeah, duh, we're in the Rockies!"

We reached the summit around 10:30 and were immediately blown away, literally. The winds coming from the southwest side of the peak were unbelievable. Maybe it's pretty typical to see this at 14,000 feet in the spring, but I've never experienced anything like it before. We really had to keep a low center of gravity and use our trekking poles to stay upright. It's funny looking at the pictures that you can't really tell that it's windy at all. I had a hard time getting good pictures in because I couldn't hold the camera steady.

We sat down to take what shelter we could from the wind, eat a quick snack and sign the register. I think all 3 of us had the energy to do Torreys, but the wind was just so bad that we really were just looking forward to lunch and beer at Tommy Knocker's Brewery in Idaho Springs. We were not the only ones either; plenty of other people we talked to had planned on doing both, and most of them backed out. Looking at the ridge between the two, we could only see a few hikers. I suspect that on a day with great conditions, most people get both peaks in. I was upset that we weren't able to, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I was to think about another day doing Torreys via the Kelso ridge route. Once again, the micro spikes were fantastic for the hike down. I was moving quickly with the tunes of Trivium's "Kirisute Gomen" stuck in my head, and the thought of a frosty cold beer in the near future.

The hike down was much easier with the snow beginning to soften up, but it also meant a lot of postholing. I couldn't help but think that every step I took in a half walk, half run, there were plenty of rocks beneath that could have very easily been a broken ankle. We got to a point down the hike where the snow was more hard packed, and I decided I wanted to try and glissade down. I'm so glad I did. It had the thrill of being steep enough that it scared you a little, but with no rocks or anything in the way, as long as you don't plant a limb in an awkward way, you'd be fine. You pick up enough speed that you gotta just go and know that you're not gonna stop until you reach the bottom. I felt like a kid who just got off a roller coaster for the first time. This was the second part of the trip that Zacc regretted his choice of gear, and his red burns all the way up the back of his legs were proof that shorts were not a great choice. I highly recommend trying this sometime if you get the chance. It was a blast and it cut a good 45 minutes off our hike down.

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The hike down was much easier with the snow beginning to soften up, but it also meant a lot of postholing. I couldn't help but think that every step I took in a half walk, half run, there were plenty of rocks beneath that could have very easily been a broken ankle. We got to a point down the hike where the snow was more hard packed, and I decided I wanted to try and glissade down. I'm so glad I did. It had the thrill of being steep enough that it scared you a little, but with no rocks or anything in the way, as long as you don't plant a limb in an awkward way, you'd be fine. You pick up enough speed that you gotta just go and know that you're not gonna stop until you reach the bottom. I felt like a kid who just got off a roller coaster for the first time. This was the second part of the trip that Zacc regretted his choice of gear, and his red burns all the way up the back of his legs were proof that shorts were not a great choice. I highly recommend trying this sometime if you get the chance. It was a blast and it cut a good 45 minutes off our hike down.

We made it back to the TH in a round trip time of about 5 hours, not including stopping at the top. All in all, it was a great day, and I can't wait for the next one.

I do have a question that I'm hoping someone can help me with. I took my dog, who is a lab/dalmatian mix on Mt. Sherman last year. He did well but his paws were bleeding by the end of the hike. Sherman is one of the shorter hikes of all the 14ers, so I'm wondering from anyone who brings their dog on multiple hikes, how do you get them in shape so that all the jagged rocks don't tear up their feet?



My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
HarknessHooligans


Dogs on 14ers     2012-05-29 09:27:03
We had a Brittany Spanial and took her up Gray & Torreys, San Luis and Sherman. Her Paws bled too the first time taking her. We got little dog booties at Pets Mart and they worked great! I see a lot of dogs that wear them. Taking your dog on several day hikes to strengthen their paws im sure is the best way to prepare them. But if you dont have time for that, the booties work well.


tockelstein2005


Glissade     2012-05-30 01:30:18
I did the same thing...on the same day!


zerosignal28

yep     2012-05-30 07:19:52
Harkness...I actually did bring dog booties, but they kept falling off. Eventually I lost one and I just gave up on them. I agree I need to get him out more often and get his paws calloused. Tockelstein...some guy lost his wallet on the way down; someone else found it and picked it up sliding down.



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