I summited Grays Peak twice prior to this trip – by two different routes, the paths less-traveled. Each time I stood on Grays I looked over at Torreys Peak with admiration. Torreys is a beautiful mountain – its eroded eastern slope appears to melt away like chocolate ice cream in the sun. I wanted to summit Torreys, but I wanted to wait and do it right. I decided Kelso Ridge would be the route. I waited for a warm summer morning…
Torreys Peak (14,267 ft) and Grays Peak (14,278 ft)
Arapaho National Forest
Route: Ascend Kelso Ridge, descend standard route
Trailhead: Grays Peak (aka Stevens Gulch)
Date climbed: 08.08.2009
I exited the interstate at 5:50 AM. It was clear sailing up the Stevens Gulch road for the first half mile. And then I hit traffic – thick like Denver on a workday morning. The line of vehicles traveled up the road at idle speed. The drive was incredibly frustrating. I arrived at the trailhead about 30 minutes late. My partners greeted me with a beer.
It was my first time in Stevens Gulch on a summer morning. About all I can say is wow.
Fifteen people waited in line for the privy. A Channel 7 news van was parked near the trailhead sign. People gathered everywhere – EVERYWHERE – and trucks and SUVs were parked at every angle wherever they could fit. I estimate close to a thousand people were in Stevens Gulch that morning. Turns out only a handful would be on Kelso Ridge.
Captions on top.
The trailhead at 6:30 AM.
We begin climbing Kelso Ridge. A group ahead of us is partway up the Ridge. No one is behind us.
The route starts easy enough.
But gets difficult real quick.
The rock is solid - hand holds are plentiful.
Life at elevation.
We had a good time on the lower section. The summit isn't far!
Kelso Mountain reclines in the distance.
We see people standing on top of Torreys Peak. Somewhere between here and the summit is some kind of famous "knife edge". I'm anxious to find it.
We curve around a ledge.
We climb an interesting and loose gulley.
And then it appears – the storied Knife Edge – and B is walking on top of it.
The Knife Edge - it's easy!
It is easy - just don't slip.
C approaches the Knife Edge.
Once across the Knife Edge, we traverse the white tower – the final sentinel to the summit.
The final stretch to the summit is loose dirt and rock. It's not fun, but it is manageable.
The Torreys Peak summit. My jaw drops. Where can I buy a bratwurst and beer?
We start down the saddle towards Grays Peak.
A clear view of Torreys Peak and Kelso Ridge taken from near the Grays Peak summit.
The summit of Grays is more relaxed.
We make good time down the mountain, passing groups of hikers going up and down. The parking area is still mostly full when we arrive at our vehicles. It's 2 PM and the weather is perfect. Let's go climb Kelso again!
Or maybe not. Instead we remove our boots and enjoy a well-earned beer. Kelso Ridge was a lot of fun, and I look forward to the next time I climb it.
The hike elevation profile:
The hike GPS track:
Total distance: approximately 7.8 miles
Total elevation gain: approximately 3,400 feet