Grays Peak - Southwest Ridge
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Total Gain:||3,800 feet|
|RT Length:||10.25 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Grays Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Summit: 970-453-2232
| ||Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
Take U.S. 6 to the west end of Keystone. If you are driving east on U.S. 6, take the exit for Montezuma Road before U.S. 6 begins its climb to Loveland Pass. If you are driving west (from Loveland Pass), turn left into the River Run area of the Keystone Ski Resort. Take another quick left and drive a bit to get to the Montezuma Road.
Drive ~4.3 miles on the Montezuma road and turn left on the 260 (dirt) road. There is a large parking area at the start of this road. You do not need 4WD to get to the trailhead but do not drive a low-clearance vehicle up this road. From the parking area, drive along Peru Creek approx. 2.25 miles to the trailhead (left). There is a small parking area on the right.
If you have a short, high-clearance 4WD vehicle, you can continue another 2 miles up the rough Chihauhau Gulch road.
Photo #1 shows the trailhead. Hike or drive up the Chihauhau Gulch 4WD road (Photo #2) for approximately 2 miles to a road junction at 11,160' - Photo #3. In spring and early summer, water may be running over this area. The main road (#263) for the Chihauhau Trail goes left, but turn right and follow an old road that leads to Peru Creek. Shortly after leaving the junction, the road to Peru Creek is blocked to motor vehicles - Photo #4. Follow the road north up a hill where it soon turns right and climbs southeast towards Ruby Gulch - Photo #5. From the turn, hike about 1 mile to reach the gentle, open terrain of Ruby Gulch - Photo #6. Continue east into Ruby Gulch to reach a mine at the end of the road - Photo #7, Photo #8. The Southwest Ridge is up to your left (north) but it's best to continue a bit further into the gulch before heading for the ridge.
Hike a few hundred yards past the mine, turn left across the basin, and begin hiking north up the easy slopes - Photo #9. Photo #10 is a look back at the entrance to Ruby Gulch. Hike a few hundred feet of elevation up the slope and then angle left (northwest) toward the Southwest Ridge - Photo #11. Your goal is to gain the ridge but you don't have to start at the extreme south end of the ridge. Pick your line and continue northwest over to the slope below the ridge - Photo #12, Photo #13. Climb the slope to reach the ridge - Photo #14, Photo #15.
Once on the ridge crest, turn right (northeast) to see the remaining ridge hike and the summit - Photo #16. There are faint trail segments along the ridge, but route finding is easy - just stay near the ridge crest. Hike toward a prominent 13,600-foot point on the ridge - Photo #17. Photo #18 looks back on the route. When you reach the top of the point, the final, 700-foot pitch comes into view - Photo #19, Photo #20. Drop slightly, cross a small saddle, and climb steepening terrain below the summit - Photo #21. Follow a faint trail over dirt and loose rock. Between 14,000' and 14,200', you will encounter the steepest terrain - Photo #22. Stick to the trail segments and gently continue upward. Photo #23 and Photo #24 show the terrain. After the steep pitch, it's a short walk up to the summit - Photo #25.
Recently, some "No Trespassing" signs have been placed on the old road leading into Ruby Gulch and near the mine structures above treeline. The latest USGS maps show the road to be on public land all the way past the mine structures at 12,000'. To be safe, please keep clear of the old mine structures near the end of the road.
: 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
pages for more information.