| Making Grays and Torreys great... even with the crowds
"At present, I am mainly observing the physical motion of mountains, water, trees and flowers. One is everywhere reminded of similar movements in the human body, of similar impulses of joy and suffering in plants"
I was very skeptical about how enjoyable Grays and Torreys would be. I have read trip reports from a variety of sites before deciding to do these monstrous peaks, and they all talked about the easy route, numerous amounts of people, and lack of excitement. Never the less I promised myself to do easier peaks until my experience increases. My friends Brice and Kory (Kory Lieberg on site) took Kory's Subaru from Longmont, CO to find out that these peaks are full of excitement, difficult sections, and pure majestic beauty.
We began our drive from Longmont at around 7:15pm Saturday night from Longmont to Idaho Springs for dinner at Tommy Knockers brewery. After reminiscing about our previous trip to Snowmass and packing our glycogen stores full of less than ideal calories we headed to Georgetown to find a place to sleep. The visitor's center right off the highway worked for a place to crash and we crammed into the back of the Suby with our sleeping bags.
To say the least we slept like crap and were all cranky to begin our day on the mountains. 4:45am We pack our bags and grab the worst burritos any of us have ever had at a gas station (I will let the company save face by not saying their name). Time to drive to the trailhead.
The parking lot was packed just like every trip report I have read. What I love about hiking though is everyone is friendly. Its not like Wal-Mart where I feel like I am being chased down by vehicles attempting to park. 6:22am
At 6:28, We're off to climb three mountains. Due to the reviews of Grays and Torreys, I thought it would be necesary for us to add Kelso Mountain for a good hard workout (we have a 50 mile trip planned in July, and could use the increased difficulty)
About 1 mile into the hike it was time for sunscreen. A gentleman was nice enough to snap our photo
You begin to see views of Grays right of the bat. Its funny how they always seem so much bigger when your are actually there, which raised the question in all of our minds, "Can we do three mountains?".
We began climbing the side of Kelso mountain shortly after a few bends in Grays trail. This looked much eaiser in all the pictures I viewed before deciding to add this. It took a little over an hour to summit Kelso going up the grassy east side of the mountain.
We had our first views of Torreys while going up the east side about 1/2 way to the top
There are several little mounds that appear as you turn north to reach the top. "I think that is the top, and we are almost there was said at least three times" False summits are a good test in patience and physical endurance, but they suck!
We finally reached our first of three mountain we were going to attempt. KELSO MTN 13,164ft above sea level.
We took a route down I found online (don't quite remeber where) that walks down the south west ridge that connects to Kelso ridge to go up Torreys. This was fairly simple until your reach the last 1/4 of the ridge. I believe we got off route by decending to the east instead of staying on the ridge. All three of us took a route that we were comfortable with. There are several points I slid 20+ feet on loose rock. We finally made it off by about 10am. The next five pictures are on the south west ridge.
When planning this trip, we kept the idea of Kelso Ridge open with the option of taking the standard route if it looked beyond our abilities. I knew very well this was beyond my abilities, but wanted to look at it anyways. We deliberated for about ten minutes and Kory decided just to go up a little ways to see what it looked like.
Brice and I followed Kory past a few climbing sections and I could already tell this was not for me. Not only that, but if anyone remembers our last report on Snowmass two weeks ago, I promised myself to do only class 2 climbs until I am mentally tough enough and have have developed more skills on the mountain. I made the call with Brice to turn around and take Grays trail. It was hard to tell Kory, who was all about climbing Kelso Ridge that we were not ready for this ridge. As bad as I felt for letting Kory down, I would like everyone to make it home safely. So, Kory, again I say I'm Sorry! My goal is to climb Kelso ridge in exactly one year and after another year of class 2 hopefully we will be ready.
That ridge haunted me the whole way up Grays trail. I could not stop thinking about if I could have done it. It loomed in my peripherals the whole way up too!
The trail was packed full of people. This just like to parking lot is not such a bad thing on Mountains. The encouragement of other people is absolutely awesome and if you are one of the one's reading this that assisted people mentally, THANK YOU!!! Its great to see good people in the world.
I wanted to climb Torreys first to go against the grain. We took the right trail at the split. The views in every direction are absolutely amazing and make the steep climb worth every step. We took several breaks to make sure we had the stamina for all three summits as we had planned.
It was taking some time to get to the saddle and we watched the cloud activity with a keen eye. It always happens... You mean to be on the summit before noon and between breakfast and mistimed routes it doesn't seem to work out. Maybe, better planning on my part is to blame.
The trail up to Torreys was littered with people. Several people fell in this section due to loose rock and I assume fatigue. We all kept good distance to avoid being in their small rock slides.
Boy am I glad we didn't take Kelso ridge. Kudos to everyone that can do it. You all rock! Our group would love the assistance of someone next year (if our abilities are better) in following the correct route up. Let me know if there are any takers.
KORY LIEBERG'S First 14er! Being a Wyoming native Kory doesn't get to climb 14ers. He is in excellent physical condition and has the mental toughness to grow as a mountaineer much faster than I will. He is a great complement to our group and is knowledge and get it done attitude help greatly. He was unable to complete Snowmass with Brice and I so I am glad he is official now. Brice and I both congratulate you, Good Job Kory!
After decending Torreys we ate lunch to refuel in the saddle between Grays and Torreys. I personally have never seen a Mountain Goat and we got a nice treat during our lunch break.
One Last Peak to GO. We began our final climb to the top of Grays. The crowds diminished and we had the luxury of having the mountain to ourselves besides one other group. We meet a guy from India who has climbed 21,000ft mountains. These must look like hills to him is all I could think.
It was great being up there without the crowds and gave me the prime opportunity to take pictures of the surrounding area and our other two accomplished mountains that day.
Kory must have got one of Mario's magic mushrooms because he was flying down the mountain. We took the standard route of Grays back down to create somewhat of a loop. We managed to get another quick shot of the resident Mountain Goats, which thank god slowed Kory down so Brice and I could catch up for a second that is.
During the decent Brice and I took our time and took in our final mental pictures before heading back to our busy lives. Oh, and I took dome pictures for the 14ers.com group too, lol.
I want to thank the group that put a smile on our faces with their rock letters in the river. Very cool and it was appreciated by everyone I'm sure.
The weather cooperated with us all day and really gave us an awesome finale to our day.
This was an experience that was far from uneventful and one that I will never forget. Although the saddle and Torreys looked like an ant hill, the company of people with common interests in mind made for a good summit anyways. There were several people I met that were inspiring and you guys all kick a$$. The most important part of my trips are to get everyone back home which was done. Mission accomplished. Hey Brice and Kory, What's next?
Thank you for readin my TR. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to everyone's comments.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):