It's a beautiful day--let's climb two!
I left from home at 3:30 a.m. and made it to the Stevens Gulch trailhead by 5:15. Getting from I-70 to the trailhead was pretty rough for my little Chevy Cobalt, but with slow and careful driving it survived. Just keep a lookout for some of the large rocks along the road; these could easily damage a small car's undercarriage. I hit the trail at 5:30 a.m. and had the trail and Grays Peak mostly to myself until the summit. The view of Grays and Torreys ahead of me was inspiring, but I spent most of the hike looking back to admire how emerald-green Kelso Mountain was—just stunning. The Kelso Ridge up to the summit of Torreys looked like a lot of fun too. I definitely need to try that route next time.
Looking south toward Grays (left) and Torreys (right).
Stevens Gulch and Kelso Mountain.
The Kelso Ridge, an alternate route to the top of Torreys.
I summitted Grays Peak at 8:30. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had cellular reception, so I gave my Dad a call from 14,270 feet above sea level. I stayed on the summit for roughly 20 minutes before descending to the Grays-Torreys saddle. There I surprised a mountain goat that had been hiding behind a large cairn. I was probably less than 5 yards away from him when I walked around the cairn, although by the time I got my camera out he had scampered about 30 yards off.
Torreys Peak and the connecting saddle to Grays.
A fellow climber, though much more experienced.
It was an easy and relaxed Class 2 hike from the saddle to the summit of Torreys, and I made it to the top a few minutes before 9:30. It was already starting to get crowded, and one group had even hauled a small grill up and was cooking hamburgers and hotdogs! I took a few photos, then retraced my route back down to the saddle and then toward the trailhead. I was back to my car at 11:30.
Looking back across the saddle at Grays Peak.
Another nice view of Stevens Gulch.
This is definitely a laidback 14er combo: well-defined trail, not very physically demanding, and no expanses of prayer-invoking exposure. Nevertheless, it's still around 9 miles round-trip with about 3,600 ft. of vertical rise, so you'll get a good lower-body workout. I would highly recommend this route for "entry-level" 14er climbers. It's close to metro-Denver, is rewarding without being overwhelming, and provides good examples of both Class 1 (to the summit of Grays) and Class 2 (from the saddle to the summit of Torreys) climbing. If this isn't enough of a challenge for you, the Kelso Ridge route to Torreys apparently offers some great Class 3 scrambling—and I hope to try that route soon!
Last look back at Grays and Torreys.