| Torreys Peak via Kelso Ridge, with Grays Peak
Summits: Torreys Peak (14,267') and Grays Peak (14,270')
Elevation gain: 3600'
RT distance: 8.2 miles
Route: Grays Peak Trail (formerly known as Stevens Gulch Trail) over Kelso Ridge to Torreys then over to Grays Peak, descend via Grays Peak Trail.
Partners: Aubrey and Jen
I met Aubrey and Jen at the Wooly Mammoth parking lot, Hogback parking area I-70 exit 259 at 5:00 AM Saturday morning. Aubrey and I have been discussing hiking together for some time and were finally able to hook up for my first exposed class 3 exposed 14er. Both Aubrey and Jen proved to be very patient and excellent coaches. For the class 3 stuff Jen would lead, followed by me, and then Aubrey.
On to the hike; we made it up the 4WD road in 11:00, and I seem to remember thinking that Aubrey was out to better a previous time. He and Jen both commented on how nasty the road was and that it was much worse than their last visit a couple of years earlier. There is a nasty rut which requires picking a route across but other than that the road was just bumpy and rocky. The descent was a little more difficult as the folks parking along the road did not always get completely over to the side and it seemed to make navigating a little more frustrating for Aubrey.
We began our hike at 6:00 AM and were soon greeted to some alpenglow on the two peaks; Grays to the left and Torreys to the right.
We seemed to make good time to our junction for Kelso Ridge, and then stopped to don our helmets. This is also where the nippy, gusty wind seemed to pick up and keep up, holding steady in the 20-ish mph range for most of our path over Kelso Ridge. Here is a look up Kelso Ridge:
The above picture really only shows the overall route and does nothing for detailing the route. Here we split up and let Jen lead, followed by myself, and then Aubrey. Here is a picture of me heading up:
A picture of Aubrey heading up:
A picture of Jen heading up:
A picture showing Jen heading up a short crack, probably class 4 with me studying the ground and taking a breather. Aubrey and I chose to head to the right of this crack; Jen had to squeeze through one section and there was no way I would fit if it were tight for her.
Jen coaching me up a short section:
I popped my head over a ledge:
Me with Kelso Mountain in the background:
Me heading up an airy section with traffic forming behind:
So, the ridge is flat and wide in areas and steep and thin in others. The thinnest is the 30 foot knife edge. Here, we went across one-by-one so no one felt rushed; however, I did have a couple of hikers follow fairly close to me. Fortunately, I handled the knife edge well and did not panic over having people on my heels. Aubrey crosses the knife:
Here are two pictures of me heading over the knife edge:
I have heard and read about exposure creating challenges for people. I did not even think about where I was until I was ¾ way across the knife edge. That is a good thing. I tackled the knife edge focusing on it and my holds without being concerned about "the air" beneath me. After the knife edge, the trail remains steep but is less exposed and the summit is just a short distance further. Here I am reaching the top:
It took us right at 3:15 to summit. With the wind blowing and another 14er summit, we stayed only briefly and began out trek over to Grays Peak. First, I needed a summit photo:
A look back down Kelso Ridge:
Looking over at Grays Peak:
Here I am heading up Grays from the Torreys/Grays saddle:
We reached Grays summit about an hour after leaving Torreys summit and spent a brief moment enjoying the views. The views were totally unobstructed in all directions and only a few fluffy white clouds dotted the otherwise bluebird sky.
On out descent, we met Deb (jeffro's wife) decked out in Pioneer Women apparel. Deb organized a Pioneer Women hike of Grays and four other ladies followed suit. Shortly thereafter we met jeffro and he mentioned a short, class 3 side trip rock climb. A photo of what jeffro called The Rascal:
Later on we met another 14er member, Steve. It was nice running into folks I have read reports from on such a busy trail. Looking back up at Torreys from the Grays Peak Trail:
We were back at the car roughly 6:00 after starting out, with two 14er summits and one class 3 route travelled.
This was my first experience with class 3 and I thoroughly enjoyed the outing. I have done some high class 2 stuff on lower elevations near Colorado Springs and may have ventured into some very short class 3 sections, but definitely nothing as long or exposed as this route; although, this route is not long by any means. I will now have to put class 3 routes at the top and call them my favorite hiking routes. I answered a lot of personal questions today and was glad to be able to share that with good friends. Thanks again Aubrey and Jen.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):