Grays Peak - East Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
In the 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'.
|Difficulty:|| Class 1 |
Ski: Intermediate, D3 / R2 / II
|Total Gain:||3,000 feet|
|RT Length:||8.00 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Grays Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
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. Reach a junction after one mile - stay straight and follow the sign for the Grays Peak trailhead. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead at 11,280'. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.
Photo #1 and Photo #2 provide a distant view of the route. Start the hike by crossing the large bridge that spans the stream in Stevens Gulch (Photo #3) and follow the well-defined Grays trail up the hill into Stevens Gulch - Photo #4. Grays soon comes into view - Photo #5 and Photo #6. From the trailhead, follow the trail for approximately 1.5 miles to an information sign ( 39.64814° N, -105.7994° W) - Photo #7 and Photo #8. Shortly after this point, hike up through some bushes to reach a rocky area - Photo #9. After crossing this flat area, the trail then climbs to the left (Photo #10) as you hike around a small ridge that runs south up to the east side of Grays. As you hike through this area and past a basin, Torreys Peak is to your right and Grays is ahead to the southwest. Near 12,600', the remaining route to the summit comes into full view - Photo #11.
Taken from Kelso Ridge on Torreys Peak, Photo #12 shows the remaining route. Follow the rocky trail along the west side of the ridge seen in Photo #11 and Photo #13. Above 13,000', swing left to gain the ridge where the remaining route becomes more obvious - Photo #14. Continue above 13,200' to reach a trail junction ( 39.63789° N, -105.81327° W) - turning right will take you to Torreys peak so stay left on the main trail. Reach a 13,400-foot corner which overlooks Stevens Gulch and a rock tower ( 39.63677° N, -105.81135° W) - Photo #15. From the corner, continue up the trail toward the upper slope - Photo #16. After some brief gain, the trail turns right and begins a long traverse west across the slope - Photo #17. Switchback up the remaining slope (Photo #18 was taken near 14,000') to reach the summit ( 39.633820° N, -105.817520° W) - Photo #19. Photo #20 looks down on much of the route and Photo #21 shows the upper slope from Mt. Edwards, to the east.
The road to the trailhead is somewhat rough, so a good clearance vehicle is recommended. The Grays trail is solid all the way to the top.
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