Peak(s):  Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Torreys Peak  -  14,267 feet
Date Posted:  07/22/2008
Modified:  07/23/2008
Date Climbed:   07/19/2008
Author:  Uffda
 Fly me to the moon (Grays/Torreys moonlight climb)  

When I first saw the thread organizing a moonlight hike of Grays and Torreys I knew I had to come along. I've never hiked at night before and this seemed like the (almost) perfect opportunity. The only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect was if it had been a mountain I hadn't bagged yet.

I met Dave (GIS_Dave), Erika (Canadian_Climber), and Dave's pooch Aspen at the T-Rex lot a little after 5 PM Friday. We made excellent time up to Bakerville and arrived just in time to meet Daniel (schumi248) who had driven all the way from Wichita.

Thanks to Dave's excellent 4WD skills we made it up the road to the trailhead in about 30 minutes. I have no idea how I made it up there in my Mazda a few years ago. On the way up we did see one brave soul coming down in a small sedan of some sort. Must've been a rental...

We arrived at the TH to find a few other parties already setting up camp. After some dinner we sacked out to get a few hours of sleep before the hike. I didn't sleep too well since I had no way of telling time and was paranoid I would oversleep. Apparently my cell phone cannot keep time without a signal.

At about 1 AM we started to get geared up. The hikers who met at the lower parking lot started trickling in. A little after 1:30 we met at the start of the trail and posed for some pictures. Hopefully we didn't wake up too many of the other campers!

Trailhead sign/Big Dipper

Looking back at the campground

We started up the trail and the group quickly spread out. Unfortunately Daniel was feeling the altitude and had to turn back fairly early. Dave, Erika and I kept a pretty good pace for a while (with Aspen putting us all to shame). We came across a few other people who had gone up earlier in the evening and were heading back down. I paused for a few minutes to grab some pictures and could hear the eerie sound of rockfall coming down the couloirs on Torreys.


I used my headlamp sparingly since the moonlight was bright enough to see most of the time on the approach. Once the moon started to drop below Grays I flipped it on to the low setting. Throughout the hike I could see the occational headlamp on the trail ahead and behind me. It was a pretty cool sight.

Dog locator beacon following me up the trail

Erika dropped behind as Dave and I started up the switchbacks. In the dark this part of the trail seems to go on forever - endlessly crisscrossing the entire East Slope of Grays. When you look up towards the summit the darkness makes it hard to see how far you really are from the top.

Eventually I crested the ridge and walked the last few feet to the summit at about 4:30. Dave and Aspen made it about 10 minutes after me. I found three other guys who had summited a few minutes before and were camped out waiting for sunrise. They had bivy sacks and a stove going. They were smart, because the stiff breeze and the near-freezing temperatures quickly chilled me to the bone. I vaguely realized that in 6 hours I would be back in Denver sweltering in triple digit heat. I love Colorado! 8)

Moonlight over Summit County

Denver lights in the predawn

After some trail mix and pictures of the predawn twilight, I was able to convince (through chattering teeth) Dave and a few others to continue on to Torreys. We made good time down to the saddle and I caught the sunrise at the Torreys trail junction.



Catching some sort of second wind, I made quick work of the trail up to Torreys. There were a few other guys and a mountain goat already on top. The rest of the 14ers group made it up shortly after. Unfortunately the haze from the California fires limited the view, but we were able to make out the famous cross on Mt. of the Holy Cross way out in the distance.

A local just below the summit

In the shadow of a giant

Looking back toward Grays

The crowd on top


I had some more trail mix and decided to downclimb a bit on Kelso Ridge to check out the knife edge. Some day I'll give that route a try!

Knife edge and Kelso Ridge

After resting up we decided to head back down. That breakfast in Georgetown was sounding better and better! Making my way down I started shedding layers. I was down to just shorts and a t-shirt by the time I crossed the sole snowfield just below the saddle.

I found Erika at the Grays/Torreys fork. She had summited Grays shortly after we started the traverse.

The group proceeded down to the trailhead. On the way we passed a constant line of people heading up. Many expressed disbelief and/or admiration when they found out when we started hiking.

The trailhead parking lot was jam packed. We struck camp and headed down to the lower parking area. Just before the "crux" of the 4WD road was a line of cars on either side of the road. They were actually blocking several routes over the giant rut. Thanks a lot!

Back at the lower lot Dave and Aspen headed off to the Breck beer festival, and the rest of the group hit Georgetown for breakfast.

I finally made it back to Littleton just before noon and somehow managed to mow the lawn before passing out.

Thanks again for a great hike! And a big thanks to Dave and Daniel for the rides!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/23/2008 02:31
trip and awesome pics jason. a great hike all around. i must‘ve missed that mountain goat


Nice job!
07/23/2008 02:36
Hey Uffda, nice job on the TR! I think my favorite photo is ”Moonlight over Summit County.” That one is really unique and different looking from most nite time lapse pixs.
What size are your photos and what settings did you use? Yours are larger than mine and yet I had to resize mine smaller to get them to upload. And I totally forgot about the Georgetown 3 meat omlette breakfast!! (Don‘t know if you remember me, but I was the one who took ”Moi.”) Anyway....great report and memories! Take care...


Fun hike!
07/23/2008 17:45
Thanks for the Trip Report and pictures! That was my first night hike, and only my 2nd and 3rd 14ers. I was the one with the German Shepherd wearing the red light. We should do another moonlight hike next full moon!

Also, I don‘t know the name of the place we all had breakfast, but that was some great food.

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