| 4th of July BBQ on Kelso Ridge
I decided my first trip report should be something good, so here it is…
We wanted to do something unique for the 4th of July, so Joe (JPJibskier), Shawn, and I (realhillboarding) decided we would take a group of beginners up Gray's and Torreys. We had a few tricks up our sleeves, but we made sure that none of our group knew about them. Several members of our group ended up backing out at the last minute, so we decided that we would climb Kelso Ridge rather than the standard route. Eric, Becca, and John met us in Lakewood at 6:00 and we headed up to the mountains.
When we got to the dirt road, we were glad to have Shawn's jeep and Joe's Escape to make it up to the trailhead. When we got to the rut in the road there were about 10 cars parked on the right side and there was someone in a Subaru outback parked in the middle of the road, contemplating if he was going to attempt to cross it. He decided not to, and began to back up toward us. We backed up a few car lengths to a point where he could pull off to the side and let us pass, and we began the slow, painful process of watching him back up. 10 feet back, 5 feet forward, 10 feet back, 5 feet forward, 10 feet back….you get the picture. When he got to the pull off…wait no, he's not pulling off, he wants to keep backing up! After 25 minutes of 10 feet back, 5 feet forward he was finally to the end of the parked cars and got out of our way. After cursing him under our breath for being inconsiderate, we were off.
We hit the trail at 7:25 and slowly made our way up the trail. By 8:40 we finally made it to the split in the trail, at which point we pointed out the ridge made a disclaimer speech telling our friends "kelso ridge is steep and exposed, if you don't feel comfortable with this we can climb the standard route". Everyone felt up to the challenge, so we were off.
After a short break on the ridge for food, water, and blister repair, we started the fun part of the climb. We kept a close eye on Eric and Becca to make sure they were able to safely navigate the class 3 sections.
Joe, Becca, and Shawn on the first class 3 section
John (in green) and I (in blue)
Becca was clearly intimidated by the exposure, but she was very sure-footed and handled it like a champ. Over time Shawn, John and I got a pretty good lead on the rest of the group as Joe hung back to help the other two. When we reached the knife edge we stopped to wait for them to catch up. After about 15 minutes someone peeked over the edge from the summit and yelled "HEY! Get up here, there's pizza waiting for you!". It sounded like he was just joking in an attempt to motivate us to cross the knife edge, so Shawn yelled back "Yea, well we've got burgers and beer on their way!". We sat around talking about how delicious a burger would be on the summit, then dismissed it as crazy talk.
Shawn and I crossing the knife edge
eric using the butt-scoot method
When the rest of the group caught up, Shawn, John and I crossed the knife edge and scrambled up to the top. The exposure was much less than I had expected, pictures definitely over-exaggerate it.
I reached my 16th summit at 11:15, about a minute ahead of shawn and john, and pulled a few things out of my pack, then turned back to greet the others. Shawn came first, then John. John was looking around and taking to me when he suddenly noticed something on the summit and stopped. "Wait, why is there a watermelon on the summit?" he asked. I nonchalantly replied, "I brought it," to which he replied, "You carried that all the way up THAT!?" As we were having this exchange, Shawn pulled a case of the silver bullet out of his pack and cracked open a beer. About a minute later Joe reached his 5th summit and pulled out a hibachi grill and 20 burgers. A few minutes later Eric and Becca made it to the top and we congratulated them on reaching their first 14er summit, and it was a great first!
John, Shawn, Me, and Joe on the summit
Shawn handing out watermelon
Needless to say, everyone at the summit was a little bit surprised, and they were quite happy when we started handing out watermelon and beer. One guy went as far as to offer us $20 for 2 beers, but we just gave him the beer.
me improvising with the knives
We fired up the grill and started making burgers 6 at a time. Unfortunately we forgot to bring anything to flip the burgers, so we improvised with two knives When they were done cooking I pulled the tomato, onion, and ketchup out and the feast began.
the most delicious burgers ever
Our tall-boys hit us pretty quick, and before we knew it we were taking a picture in our boxers with a girl whose shirt read "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of boys"
After 2 burgers each we cooked the remaining 8 burgers and handed them out to whoever wanted them, as we had no intention of carrying any extra food down the mountain. We finished grilling at 1:00, did 2 sweeps over the summit to make sure there were no remnants of our little shindig, and then headed down at 1:20.
I still had lots of energy, but when we got to the saddle Shawn, John and I decided we didn't really feel like climbing Grays, so we split from the other three and headed down. The snowfield that the trail crossed was still pretty big, but the rut from 100 people per day crossing it made it easy to cross. We picked our way through the rocks to get to the snowfield, then had a nice long glissade down. Once we got back on the trail we started running and passed several of the groups we had seen on the summit 1-2 hours earlier. When we got back to the car we stood in the ice cold water for a little bit to sooth our feet, then drove back to Denver to clean up and watch the fireworks. This was definitely the best 4th of July BBQ I've ever had! Next year we may need to get creative and step it up a notch…
john making a graceful exit from his glissade
shawn's less graceful end
shawn at the end of the hike
thanks to Joe and Shawn for sharing their pictures to make this a comprehensive report
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):