| Torrey‘s via Kelso PLUS Mother Nature
I have been in love with hiking 14ers since I was a young pup. Ok, ok, since 3 years ago when we (wife & I) first did Gray's & Torrey's. Anyway, we have been gradually working our way up and down the front range peaks (easy to drive to) and enjoying every one. I have been gettin the itch to try something a little more challenging, wanting to step up to a class 3. Previously, our biggest challenge was Belford & Oxford. Mostly due to the length, and oh those neverending switchbacks... Anyway, wife did not feel up to a class 3, so I got a friend from work (Stephen) who I had been talking with about going for a while now. We got to the trailhead right before 7 am, after picking up a couple of chicks. Ok, ok, it was raining and we offered a ride to two gals from Michigan who were hiking from the bottom of the road. Anyway, the rain had been pretty a fairly steady drizzle, so we decided to give it a shot, to see just how bad it may be - First mistake!
Anyway, we plugged along at a pretty good pace, making good time up the entrance trail. All along admiring the cloud cover along the whole ridge. Then we finally got up to the area where you can finally see the two peaks, Gray's and Torrey's. Yeah, right.
I figured that it should be a fairly quick moving cloud cover and it should clear up shortly - Second mistake!
Well, we came to the turn off where you choose to go Grays or Kelso. Without hesitation, we chose Kelso - Third mis....well, you get the idea.
Continued up the route, enjoying the more challenging climb that I am used to. The whole time I am only worried about the storms turning into thunder/lightning storms, not about the fact that the constant rain/snow has made an already difficult route even
Anyway, after dyfing death, slipping and sliding up the already difficult Kelso Ridge (knife edge nearly got us! ), we finally got past the worst part. Even in the last 100 feet or so, you still can't see the top.
We did manage to get to the top and breathed a collective sigh of relief.
I wonder why we were the only ones on top?
Didn't spend alot of time there, didn't even sign the register, wanted to get over to Gray's. Started down the path (what we could see of it) to the saddle. Visibility was at its worst yet, maybe 20-30' visibility. On this pic, this is where you can usually look down into the valley...
To top it off, there was a fresh 1 1/2" or so of snow, with no footprints in it. We continued along what I thought was the correct direction. Finally we found a trail and followed that up to Gray's, or so we thought. We got to the top in about an hour from when we left Torrey's. Stephen looks around and thinks he recognizes the rocks. What the hell does he know, he has never been up here. We chow a little and sign the register, then take off back to the trailhead. Following a pretty good path, we get down to a spot that I actually recognized. IT WAS THE FRIGGIN SIGN POINTING TO GRAY'S!!!!
Somehow we looped around from the top of Torrey's and ended up summiting the dang thing again! @#!$!!##&!!!
Anyway, we did begrudginly summit Gray's. Even around noon, the clouds were still pretty intense. This shot is looking up the saddle toward Torrey's.....I think.
Finally, after starting to decend Gray's the clouds broke a little and we got our first view all day of the valley from up top.
As a final 'thumb in the nose' from mother nature...well just look at this shot as we were leaving.
I learned two lessons this day. Do not under estimate the need for a compass (glad we weren't in a real remote area!) and if I would have looked at previous days' trip reports, I would have seen that it had been raining/snowing there for a few days and the class 3 route could have waited. As many people say on this fantastic, great, usefull, outstanding, wonderfull website: The mountian is not going anywhere. I would NOT recommend this route (Kelso) in any type of weather that could even possibly produce any moisture. Even the day after...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):