Torreys Peak

Kelso Ridge
Difficulty Class 3 
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
TrailheadGrays Peak
Start11,280 feet
Summit14,272 feet
Total Gain3,100 feet
RT Length6.75 miles
SheriffClear Creek: 303-679-2376
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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The Clear Creek County Sheriff no longer allows parking along the road to the trailhead. They say they will ticket those who do so and you'll see "No Parking" signs along the road. So, get up there very early and if the trailhead parking is full, you'll have to drive back down to the bottom of the road and walk up. Awful, I know.
Take I-70 to the Bakerville exit (#221). Leave the highway and drive south over to the dirt parking area near the start of Forest Road 189. This is the winter trailhead and even if the upper road is open, low-clearance passenger cars should park here. It's almost 3 miles to the summer trailhead. Continue up the Grays Peak (189) road. After 1 mile, stay straight at a junction. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead, at 11,280'. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.


Hike 1.75 miles up the Grays Peak trail ( 1) to 12,200' where the trail crosses a flat, rocky area - 2. Continue on the trail and when it begins to climb off to the left, near 12,300', look for the cairn and start of the Kelso Ridge trail, to the right - 3. Follow this trail north to the base of the slope under the Torreys-Kelso saddle. Ascend to the saddle, near 12,400' - 4. Turn left and hike onto a bump ( 5) to see the Kelso Ridge route - 6. It's difficult to identify all of the route features from this vantage point. Hike over to some initial rock outcroppings and pass them on the right side - 7. Near 12,700', stay left of the ridge crest and climb into a notch - 8. Drop a few feet and ascend the first section of Class 3 rock ( 9) before regaining the ridge.

Continue along the ridge, drop to the right to bypass some difficulties and regain the ridge near 12,800' - 10. Ahead you can see your next major obstacle - a wall of white rock - 11. Continue along the ridge, descend to the right and ascend a dirt-filled gully which leads to the base of the wall. Pick your line and climb it - 12 and 13. Now, with some exposure to your left, climb to the top of the point above the wall - 14. Drop right a bit before ascending another point - 15 and 16. Continue to yet another point, at 13,700' - 17 and 18. From the top of this point you have a good view of the remaining route - 19.

Staying on the ridge, hike higher as you approach more serious terrain 20, 21 and 22. Your next obstacle is a bump of rock which blocks easy access to the end of the ridge. Near 14,000', stay left of large, angled rocks and climb steeply up the left side of the bump - 23, 24, 25 and 26. Scramble over to the route's crux - an exposed knife-edge - 27 and 28. There's a tower of white rock on the other side of the knife. Scramble across ( 29) to reach the white tower. Climb around the right side of the tower ( 30), drop a bit, and turn left to ascend the final, Class 2 pitch to reach the summit - 31 and 32. For the descent, it's easiest to use the standard trail.

In Winter

In winter months, the southeast side of Kelso Mountain is prone to avalanche activity which may run over the summer Grays Peak trail. Unless you're confident that the snow in this area is stable, it's best to leave the trail near 11,600' and take a more direct line up through Stevens Gulch before re-joining the Grays Peak trail near 12,100'.


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