Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Date Posted:  04/10/2012
Date Climbed:   04/09/2012
Author:  MTGOAT72
 First Colorado 14er  

Grays Peak My First Colorado 14er

Grays and Torreys from low on the trail.

I realize that Grays is the easy 14er, but I was my first Colorado 14er so I put together a trip report. I have recently relocated to Colorado from Idaho and there are no peaks remotely close to these giants in Idaho. A few years ago I had climbed Mt Rainier in Washington, so Grays was not my first experience at altitude. But, I was in a lot better shape back then. I love the mountains even when I'm dying for breath as I climb the trail. Hopefully after a few more of these giants it won't be so hard physically, but I'm willing to suffer for the mountains. Here is my story from my first Colorado 14er: Grays Peak.
Massive rock cairn and Kelso

After a few months at the gym and slowly raising the elevation in peaks I decided to head up Grays Peak. Grays is probably one of the easiest 14ers, but that didn't matter to me. When you climb a 14er you earn it whether it's the easiest or the hardest. But, I had no intention of setting myself up for failure, so I picked a 14er with a trail to the summit. I will note that the trail was covered in ice and snow, but it was pretty easy and straightforward.
I seem to always be monitoring the weather on NOAA around the areas of the 14ers that are in close relation to Denver. I had almost sold myself on climbing Mt. Bierstadt. But, with the high mountain roads still being closed because of snow I started monitoring the message boards to get some first hand reports. If I were to climb Bierstadt there would be an additional 3-4miles on closed roads. I'm not training for the Olympics, I wanted to make my first 14er as easy as possible. Last night someone posted that they were able to drive all the way to the Grays Peak trail head, so that immediately changed my plans to head up Grays.
Since there was a report of a few rigs making it to the trail head, it was time to see how good the 4X4 in my Blazer was. This was a pretty rough road without snow, but soon I saw a couple Subaru's parked along the side. The Blazer did awesome plowing up the rutted ice covered road. There were a few dicey spots but my clearance was just enough to get me through. I arrived at the trail head around 8am, and I was the only person to make it the entire way. Shortly after arriving I geared up and was quickly on the trail to Grays.
Grays summit

Once across the bridge the trail was snow covered virtually the entire way. I didn't put my micro spikes on till my second break since the snow was not completely frozen to ice. I was surprised at how warm it was, since the forecast was for a breezy 30 degree day. I covered the first 1.4miles and 1K ft in about 40 minutes. At this point on the trail there is a large sign showing the routes up Grays and Torreys Peak and giving a few stats of mileage and elevations. I took a nice break here and put the snow cap away and was able to wear my ball cap for once. The entire area was so amazing; I didn't know what to take pictures of. The area was very unique and I loved the geology features all around me.
Lost Rat Coulior

Dead Dog Coulior

After my first break I made my way around Kelso Mountain and got the full view of Grays and Torreys. I was now getting my first look at a couple of the coulior's that my friend Mike had been telling me about. I looked at them and said shit he wants to climb those, they look vertical. Not much further down the trail I noticed a skier climbing up the Dead Dog Coulior and laughed a bit when I saw a dog playing up there. The skier was still on the apron so they had a long way to go yet. Looking over at the Lost Rat Coulior on Grays it didn't look like there was snow all the way to the top. They were a sight to see that was for sure. I kept making my way around and up onto a ramp of sorts and took my second break at around 13K feet.
Me and Grays

At this point I put on my micro spikes. You could really see the switch backs covered in ice all the way to the top. This last 1K+ feet was pretty brutal. More of me being out of shape and being at high elevation. The trail was pretty gentle all the way to the summit. Not long after I took off from my break I heard some hooting and hollering coming from the summit. I could see two people up there and soon they were off to climb Torreys. At this point with all my huffing and puffing I had decided no 2fer today and I was happy with climbing just one 14er today. After 3.5hrs I had made it to the summit of Grays. I looked at the GPS, it said 2.5hrs of moving and 1hrs of stop time. Usually not that much stopping time, but that will get better with more mountains.
Ridge to Torreys

The summit was incredible. There was relatively no wind and it was warm for once. I took some temp and wind measurements but I don't believe them. The wind was only gusting to around 5mph and the temp was reading 60F. Maybe it was correct, but I don't trust electronics that much. It was nice because I didn't even have to wear my gloves, I enjoyed bathing in the sun. I found the summit register and signed in, took a look over at Torreys and the two people were just about to summit. Now it appeared that there were 4 people on top, but I'm not certain. I wanted to head over to Torreys, but I was enjoying the solo summit so much that I was happy were I was. Later I found out the people on Torreys were trying to yell at me to come over for a summit beer. Man if I had known that I would have been running the ridge...well not really, but I do get motivated by a good brew. Now, at home I wish I did go over, but I can just head up there next week.
Grizzly and Cupid. I climbed those last week.

Next I found the Grays Peak Geocache and left my MT GOAT trackable for someone to take to another summit. Shortly after I started my descent on the same trail I ascended. The going was fast with the spikes on and before I knew it I was down to the point of my previous break. I saw the two other climbers making their way down, I was hoping to see a massive glissade but they chose life. I can't blame them, I didn't do it either. I took a couple glances at Dead Dog Coulior and saw some boulders making their way down at incredible speeds. I was thankful to see the skier was not in coulior at the time. After getting back to my first break area I put my spikes away had some water and was off for the car.
Grays summit

I made my way without postholing more than to my ankles except for one or two times. Since it was so warm I was not looking forward to the drive down. I knew the slush and mud would have the Blazer all over the place. While getting my gear stowed, 2 other climbers came down the trail and asked for a ride. So we made a trade a beer for a ride...anytime. All of you can note that I have no problem transporting people for good beer! Hahaha. It was nice meeting some other Colorado climbers and hearing about their trip of Grays and Torreys. It was time to hit the road and the road was worse than I thought, the rig was all over the place and sideways at times. I would assume if the temps stay up the roads would be much better in a week. But, my sideways ruts might have shaved off a few inches for you low clearance drivers. Eventually we made it down to their Subaru, I said "and you didn't think this was going to be a party." I think the drive down was one of the more exciting parts of the day after summiting.
I was glad I was able to make it all the way to the trail head, because they had a good 2 miles more and probably another 1K ft. I don't need any extra obstacles at this point. It was a great day, and I am happy to finally get up to 14K in Colorado. Now just do one a week, well let's not get that carried away.

Date: 4/9/2012
Starting Elevation: 11,266ft
Summit Elevation: 14,240ft
Elevation Gained: 2,974ft
Distance: 7.07miles
Time: 6hrs

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
I Man

Awesome job man!
06/20/2012 13:38
Grays was also my first 14er shortly after I moved here. I did it in June and at the time the snow certainly made it a bit tricky for me. Welcome to the best state! 8)


04/10/2012 14:25
Yes, It hasn't taken me long to fall in love with Colorado.

Doctor No

Good work!
04/10/2012 17:30
Looks like you had a great day for it!


on the subject of beer...
04/10/2012 17:41
”All of you can note that I have no problem transporting people for good beer! Hahaha.”
But will you transport beer, for good people? You'd make a lot of new friends that way!

James Scott

Other Side?
04/12/2012 00:52
I am planning a trip up the South Ridge in the next couple weeks. Did you notice how much snow was down there in the Argentine basin or the Chihuahua basin, on the south and west sides? Did it look like snow gear would be needed, or could I make it in boots?
Enjoyed the pictures!


South Side
04/12/2012 02:06
James, sent you a PM. The south side looks good. Some snow, but probably a lot less in a week.


04/15/2012 15:17
Congratulations on the first 14er. I am gearing up for my first 14ers this year too. I was planning on doing Grays in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the trip report. It is helping me to prepare for it.


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