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Route #11) Torreys Peak - West Ridge from Loveland Pass
Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
Take Interstate 70 to the junction for U.S. 6. near the Eisenhower tunnel Follow U.S. 6 up to Loveland Pass (11,990').
From Loveland Pass, hike .8 miles east up a wide, easy-to-follow trail (Photo #1) to the broad, rounded summit of Point 12,915. Photo #2 is the view from Point 12,915 looking south. Many people stop here, but your Continental Divide journey has just begun.
Descend off of Point 12,915 south-southeast. After passing by the low point of 12,714‘, follow a well-defined, single-track trail up to Cupid‘s broad summit (13,177‘). As you approach Cupid‘s summit the trail will become less defined (Photo #3). Some cairns mark the way. The trail approaches from the northwest and stays below Cupid‘s highest point, which will be hundreds of feet to your left (east). Begin angling to your right (west) and regain a well-defined, single-track trail heading south.
As you descend Cupid you‘ll come across a block of boulders (Photo #4). The main trail traverses to the left of this mound. Photo #5 shows a climber easily skirting around the mound. In the early summer some of the route may be covered by snow, but you should be able to find an alternate way around the mound that should not exceed Class 2. As you pass the mound of rock, descend slightly to the east before heading south again (Photo #5 and Photo #6 show the small "zig-zag" in the route).
As you climb toward Point 12,936 you‘ll come across one pile of rocks which you‘ll go up and over. Difficulty should not exceed easy Class 2, and the rocks are mostly stable. After a couple "bumps" on the ridge you‘ll gain the summit of Point 12,936 (Photo #7). Descend to the saddle (12,785‘, according to my GPS reading) between Point 12,936 and Grizzly Peak.
Ascend Grizzly Peak‘s steep north face up a well-worn, scree-filled trail. Photo #8 shows most of the route up Grizzly. In the beginning, the trail will stay to the right (west) of the ridge‘s spine. You may find multiple trails at times. Just follow the most worn trail. A little more than half the way up, the trail will head east toward the ridge‘s high point (Photo #9). From there, the trail gets much better, as it ascends up solid rock. After gaining the false summit (Photo #10) it‘s just a short scamper to the true summit. Before going any further, this is a good point to scan the skies and evaluate the weather.
From Grizzly Peak (13,427‘), head east directly toward Torreys Peak along the highest part of the ridge (Photo #11). There are some steep drop-offs to the left, but the path is easy to follow, the rock is solid and the climbing never exceeds easy Class 2. Continue northeast down the ridge (Photo #12) or angle eastward down the mostly solid talus toward the broad, grassy saddle at 12,580 feet.
After crossing the large saddle, head east up the grassy slope (Photo #13 and Photo #14). At roughly 12,950 feet, the grass will end and the scree will begin. As you ascend Torreys Peak‘s broad west ridge, look for a shallow gully that is roughly 50 to 100 yards away from the steep drop-offs to your left. A few faint trails ascend along this gully. You may hear water running underneath the rocks. The trails switchback and overlap each other as they snake up the long slope. At times, the trail becomes steep, loose and slippery. Keep aiming toward the high point above you. Photo #15 is a shot looking back toward the saddle. Photo #16 is a broader view of the route up to this point.
Eventually, Torreys Peak will come into view, just over the ridge and to your left (Photo #17). As you approach the high point above you (Photo #18), which is really just a rock pile, the trail will skirt around it to the right. After passing around the rock pile (13,960‘), the trail angles slightly to the left (northeast) and eases up quite a bit. From this point, you only have about a quarter mile and a few hundred vertical feet to climb until you reach the small summit of Torreys Peak (Photo #19, Photo #20 and Photo #21).
This is a long, rollercoaster route that never dips below 12,000 feet (or treeline, for that matter), and it gains more than a mile of vertical elevation. A good portion of the elevation gain is on the return, so it truly gives meaning to the phrase, "When you make the summit you're only halfway done." With each highpoint you gain, evaluate the sky for impending thunderstorms. While escape would be possible by descending into one of the valleys, it would put you far away from Loveland Pass (i.e., your car).
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