Welcome back, dear faithful readers! Alas, I have dodged death yet again, this time tackling Grays and Torreys via the long-anticipated Kelso Ridge. Read on as the adventures of Lady McClimbsalot continue in all their splendor!
We departed once again from the hippylicious entity called Boulder at 3:30 am sharp. I had made a delicious steak dinner the night before, which I had attempted to turn into some sort of creepy breakfast burrito. I found out that spicy steak, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and salsa don't really taste good together. I had the best of intentions...
We made a pit stop in Idaho Springs for McDonald's, but I had forced myself full of crappy potato salsa mess in a tortilla, so I just got a coffee. Funny, within a few miles we were on the 4WD road and I was bouncing to and fro attempting to sip my steamy drink. Didn't spill a drop. AW YEAH.
We got to the parking lot around 4:45 am and took the last spot at the trailhead. I'd say we were the 7th car there. I double-checked there were soles in my boots and sunglasses in my pack... and even brought a huge bag of beef jerky All I forgot this time was my phone. At least I'm improving...
5 am on the dot and we were on our way, headlamps illuminating our sleepy steps. Not too much excitement as we slogged up to the fork in the road that separated the class 3ers from the class 1ers. We veered right and began our climb up Kelso Ridge. Now, as some of you may have read, we did Bierstadt/Evans a few weeks ago via the Sawtooth Ridge as my first class 3. A lot of you out there may be wondering how they compare. Well, to be quite honest, they don't. Based on all the stories I had heard about the infamous knife edge on Kelso, I was expecting somewhat of a challenge. I will tell you right now, there are maybe two parts that involve slightly technical climbing for maybe 15 seconds, but the exposure isn't even bad. You climb up a couple chutes, but honestly they could be avoided if you really tried. I was extremely surprised at seeing a well-maintained trail along most of the ridge. We definitely got off course once or twice and found ourselves hanging off cliffs, but if anything it just made it better. The biggest hardship on Kelso? That damn gravel. There are LOTS of loose rocks that look like deceptive handholds, and we slipped numerous times. As I've mentioned before, I am not a fan of trudging through "piss me off" gravel. I'd rather be hanging over jagged rocks in fear of my life We endured the conditions and finally peaked over a bit of the ridge to come face to face with... dun dun dunnn... THE KNIFE EDGE.
Now I recall the Sawtooth Ridge being intimidating, technical, and an all around blast. Upon seeing the knife edge... I literally started laughing. "That's it?" Maybe the Chicago Basin spoiled me with incredibly challenging terrain, but this was a cake walk, my friends. I had no issues crossing.
Now, the white wall was slightly different. We followed along the right side and had a blast clinging to the rocks. The exposure was definitely more so on that bit, but still we made it safely and smiling.
Finally, we conquered Kelso by 7:55 am. BAM!
Now I must introduce to you a running theme I will be including in all future trip reports. I climbed Huron Peak in June as my 2nd 14er. I was still getting accustomed to the do's and don't's and trying to find my groove with climbing. I decided I should start adding some weight to my pack to up my conditioning. I also had in mind what would I love to bring to a summit and take a picture with? Well, you may not know this, but I eat a LOT. I also eat a lot of pickles. I hauled a full jar of Vlasic pickles, took some photos, sent them to Vlasic corporate headquarters with the following letter, and now am currently officially sponsored (in free pickles) by the company. "Pick a Peak for Pickles." Please LIKE their Facebook page and support my weird, vinegary obsession.
Spreading the love one pickle at a time
My Dearest Vlasic,
Throughout my 23 years, I have tried a lot of pickles. Claussen's Bread & Butter was my first love, but after developing a much more mature palate, there is no pickle that satisfies my taste buds like a classic Vlasic dill. Over the years I've not only enjoyed the savory flavor of your delicious pickles, but I cannot leave the grocery store without purchasing a jar of wholes, spears, and of course the delectable, yet curiously adorable Snack'ems. Oh, how my mouth waters just thinking of them! Now you see, Vlasic... Or may I just address you as "my Love?" Very well. You see, my Love, simply eating your pickles has not sufficed. I have assimilated pickle juice into as many beverages as possible including smoothies and alcoholic concoctions. It wouldn't surprise any of my roommates to wake up and find a rogue pickle-less jar sitting 1/4 full on the counter with a crazy straw sticking out of it. "Danielle must have drank a little last night," is all they'd assume. Right they are to assume. Right they are. You see, I don't always drink, but when I do, it's with Vlasic. Now on to my most amazing feat yet with your delicious product, my Love.... I recently have begun my life-long dream of summiting all 58 of Colorado's 14ers (14,000 ft or taller mountains throughout the Rockies). I just embarked on this dream June 1 of this year, summiting Mount Yale (14,196 ft) through LOTS of snow totaling 8 grueling hours. Though extremely difficult, hard, dedicated training made it possible. However, this girl needs more challenges by the day to keep going... so it was decided that more weight was to be added to my pack. I want to say it took a lot of time and serious consideration to make my final decision of just what exactly would be worthy of being carried all those miles to an icy summit... but the answer was clear as the Colorado sky (most of the time). My Love, I carried you with me up, up, up over 6 miles to the beautiful summit of Huron Peak. Upon summiting, I extracted my spears, ice ax in hand, and took my summit photo eating a mouth-watering pickle morsel. I felt so grand I climbed La Plata Peak six days later. Must be somethin' in the pickles. Anyway, as if you haven't noticed, I have a deep, burning, passionate love for your product (especially the Snack'ems!) and would like to inquire whether or not - given that I summit the remaining 55 peaks, pickles in pack - you might find me "sponsor worthy." In a nutshell, I must attain the required weight for so many excursions, and thought that my combined passion and dreams might inspire you to provide me with such! I would haul pounds of your product, photograph them being devoured with love, and then carry the rest safely to the base, if you agree to send me a plethora of pickles! A plecklora, if you will! I have many more photos I'd love to share with you as proof of my endeavor. So please, my Love, feel free to contact me I assure you, you will not be disappointed!
With Endless Gratitude and Affection,
Danielle Ardan, Mountain Climber and Pickle Extraordinaire
Pick a Peak for Pickles!
ANYWAY... after some tasty pickles and a quick chat with some guys on the summit of Torreys, we began our descent, then ascent to Grays, passing the caravan of hikers as we went against the flow. We jogged a bit until the incline began again, and summited Grays with ease. OHHHHH THE AMS RETURNED! It's funny how large crowds suddenly bring that on It's always slightly disheartening when you've been anticipating a summit of solace and are greeted by screaming children with white-rimmed sunglasses. I encourage people of all levels, shapes, and abilities to climb mountains, but it still gets to me when you have to share a summit with 100 people My summit photo sums up my feelings pretty well.
#11. Thumbs up!
We stayed on the summit for about 5 minutes before descending. We decided to run the entire trail down, dodging children and dogs while trying not to get impaled by trekking poles. We got a lot of looks, "Wows," and high fives as we hurdled rocks and sprinted past people. It made us feel pretty awesome. But we're used to that
By the time we got to the car, it was EXACTLY 10 am. 5 hours to the minute round trip... Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all To all you mountain climbers out there, these mountains are welcoming and a great day trip. START EARLY. We were stunned at how many people were just beginning as we were leaving... even though the weather promised thunderstorms at noon. The top of the mountain is not a place you want to be during a storm. Especially one where there's zero coverage like Grays and Torreys. If this was of no help whatsoever to you, I at least hope you laughed at one point. Until next time... 8)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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