Peak(s):  Kelso Mtn  -  13,164 feet
Date Posted:  10/30/2007
Modified:  10/31/2007
Date Climbed:   10/28/2007
Author:  timf
 View of Grays & Torreys - Kelso Mtn South Slopes  

My friend Mike and I changed our plans to do Kelso Mountain Sunday instead of Saturday due to a promising weather report. We drove perhaps a quarter mile up the road from the Bakerville exit.

The road was mostly clear with the exception of some ice patches. We made quick work of the road and were passed by 2 trucks before hitting the familiar bridge near the trailhead.

We began up the trail winding up Stevens Gulch and noted only minor snow on the lower portions, hardly worth gaiters let alone snowshoes. We found a good spot to leave the trail and start heading up the SE flank of Kelso. A rather straight forward grassy slope just steep enough to stretch your achilles a little.

Despite my lagged fitness due to a cold I had for about a month and the fact that I had only 2 hours of sleep the night before after a Halloween party, the ascent was pretty uneventful until we hit the ridge proper and the snowy peak view opened up. Edwards and Grays was nice, but the Kelso Ridge of Torreys insisted upon our attention. The view of Grizzly, Cupid, and Sniktau were also impressive.

We went over a few small bumps before hogging the summit all to ourselves. After some pictures and eating, we scoped out the descent down the north side. The NE & NW ridge didn't look terribly appealing, but the northern couloir and its sufficient snow beckoned us.

Being so early in the snowy season, we enjoyed an awesome glissade (1100' in about 5 minutes) of what normally would be a risky prospect in November onward. Would have enjoyed a faster desecnt with an ice ax. So control was key, but still a blast. Near the bottom of the couloir, Mike realized he didn't batton down the hatches prior to his descent and lost his wallet. I waited while he enjoyed a second run after an additional unplanned 800' of gain.

After his return, a minor bushwack and stream crossing got us back to the road. A friendly driver offered a short lift back down to our ride and we graciously declined on this perfect day. All in all this "Tour de Kelso" was about 8 miles and 3200' gain based on the lower parking. While others enjoyed Grays, we enjoyed this less visited, lonely and neglected perch. The peaks are putting on their winter white. I highly recommend Kelso Mtn.

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