Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Post Date:  08/18/2010
Date Climbed:   08/17/2010
Posted By:  9unm3741


 Grays and Torreys: Two Summits to Settle the Summer  

As the summer comes to a close and we prepare to begin our semester at school, Stephanie and I finally found time to climb some 14ers. Stephanie had never done any mountain climbing herself before this summer, and we were afraid that her asthma might become a serious problem at altitude. So, during the far too brief weekend respites from work, we trained in preparation for the culminating climb of the summer. On Tuesday, August 17th, we set out for Grays and Torreys Peaks. Our group had a gambit of experience between us. Stephanie would be hiking her first two 14ers today. Our new roommate from Greenland, Qupanuk, has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I have only successfully climbed three of Colorado's 14ers before this, but have done a number of significantly less impressive hikes and climbs. The three of us left from Golden at about 5AM. After a very bumpy (but easily doable) ride in my Toyota Corolla, we arrived at the trailhead and began our hike at 6:15AM.
Image
Trailhead!

As we started moving up the trail, the sun was also just beginning its climb into the sky, slowly washing golden rays of light over the tops of the mountains.
Image
Sunshine creeping down the mountains.

Image
Sunrise view from the trailhead.

Image
Grays and Torreys, the first to be illuminated by the light of dawn.

We continued down the trail, noticing that many of the flowers we had seen blooming on other mountains were beginning to wither away now, their opportunity to bloom coming to an end. But the trail was not bereft of blossoms.
Image
Gorgeous pink flower defies the nights frost.

Image
Beautiful blooming bells.

We also encountered our fair share of animals on the way up. There were quite a few birds and a ton of Pika! *squeek!*
Image
There is a bird pirched on the top of this rock.

Image
The shadow points to the Pika!

We continued up the gulch, and Qupanuk's superior condition began to show as we began to trail behind. But we were not troubled, a comfortable pace makes for a comfortable hiker, go too fast or too slow and you won't enjoy yourself as much! The sun continued to climb higher into the sky, and the mountains continued to increase in beauty. The weather was looking absolutely amazing, and it was clear we had chosen a great day to climb. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky, not even a wisp. The sky was Colorado's trademarked blue, deeper and more clear than the highest quality sapphire.
Image
Qupanuk hiking steadily towards Grays peak

Image
Light creeps along the ridge to the south

Image
Grays peak fully illuminated

Image
Torreys peak as we work our way closer.

Image
Cairn haloed by the rising sun.

The further up the gulch we hiked, the more imposing Grays and Torreys became.
Image
Torreys with a cairn in the forground.

The terrain began to change as we made our way further into the gulch and closer to the mountains. The trail steepened and wound its way up the gulch on small ridges.
Image
Steph and my shadows cast down a ridge slope by the low sun.

Soon we found ourselves at the base of the mountain, slowly winding our way above the gulch. We climbed up and around a rocky outcropping jutting out from the ridge just below Grays peak, when we came to the top, we were greeted with an amazing view of Stevens Gulch below.
Image
Panorama of Stevens Gulch from just below Grays peak

Climbing further up Grays, Steph and I caught up with Qupanuk, who was only just now starting to feel the altitude and had decided to wait for us and take it slow for a bit. Our climb next took us to a rocky spire, shooting out of the side of Grays. I had heard about this before thanks to 14ers.com and the many trip reports posted here ;) Every hike needs a photos of the hikers looking epic, and this was the perfect spot for the epic photos of this hike.
Image
Even your shadows look epic on a 14er!

Image
Me looking epic! Either that or I just dropped Simba...

Image
Steph looking epic, even though she was too nervous to be standing that close to the edge.

Image
And who could blame her...its a long way down!

Image
This is the rock outcropping we took our epic photos on.

We climbed down from the rocks, happy with our little excursion, and continued to the top. The trail up Grays seemed almost endless, one switchback after another. We quickly began getting tired, perhaps not the shape we need to be. We just put on foot in front of the other, concentrating on reaching the top. Finally we took that last step, looked up, and realized we had made it. We were so excited! Stephanie had completed her first 14er, Qupanuk had summited a 14er on only her second day in a foreign land, and for me, it was the goal I had worked so hard all summer to achieve. Once we were able to control our excitement, we looked around us and soaked up the awe inspiring views. The land seemed so vast and expansive, and everything in it seemed frail in comparison. Being on the top of the continental divide is an experience like none-other.
Image
All three of us at the peak.

Image
Stephanie and me at the top!

We had intentionally chosen a Tuesday for this climb in an attempt to avoid the crowds at the top, and it was a good idea. The summit was by no means empty, but it wasn't the zoo that I had heard described by others. We only had to share the top with two or so other groups, and there were only about 13 people on the summit at most. Our summit time was 9:30AM.

After taking pictures and signing the register, we moved on to go for Torreys. Qupanuk had obviously gotten her second wind, and was down Grays and up Torreys in a flash! Steph and I took a little longer. We got down Grays without much issue, and started on to climbing Torreys. Torreys is a much more imposing mountain than Grays, and the steep slope up the saddle looked quite intimidating.
Image
The imposing visage of Torreys

The climb from the ridge up to Torreys was not long, but it was pretty steep, and I thought it was fairly tough. Especially after already summiting Grays. Steph and I pressed upwards, but still took the time to enjoy the scenery.
Image
A lake with the clouds blowing over it

Image
Flowers in front of Kelso with Stevens Gulch

Image
Flowers with the summit of Torreys in the bachground.

Finally, we made it up to the top of Torreys as well! Number 2 for Steph and number 5 for me. Qupanuk was waiting at the top for us. A nice couple took our picture and we returned the favor. Thanks a bunch! A girl from another group of hikers also took a picture of all three of us. Thanks to you too! Our summit time was 10:45AM

Once we had eaten our lunch we headed back down. There were some clouds forming, but only puffs, and there was nothing around that even hinted of a storm, so we took our sweet time. Qupanuk was down in a flash again, she seems particularly skilled at descending. I've never seen anyone move down a mountain as fast as she does. We even saw her stop to do push-ups as she waited for us. Stephanie and I took a while to reach her, fighting our joints the whole way. When we finally caught up to her we stopped for a break. Soon after we stopped, a friendly fellow from Nebraska who had climbed Grays started talking to us. He had seen a mountain goat at the top and we were fairly jealous. That makes two climbs where someone else on the same mountain the same day had seen goats and we missed them He was kind enough to share some orange with us and then we continued on down. As we went down Qupanuk spotted a marmot from very far away. When we got closer the little guy scampered across the trail right in front of us.
Image
The marmot is ahead of us on the trail.

When we made it down it was almost 2PM. Our descent was very slow. The weather was nice and I, for one, was in no hurry to get off the mountain and return to reality with bills and chores and the like. All in all, a very good day. Congrats to Steph for her first two 14ers!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
huffy13


Good idea....
08/19/2010 10:36
Tuesday afternoon was a good idea. My son and I did those on a Saturday and the crowds were insane! Great pics too. I love the way both the peaks look when you work your way around Kelso and how they loom over you for a good portion of the hike. Enjoyed your report, brought back some great memories!



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.




© 2016 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.