Lauren’s grandmother might have made a mistake getting me “Colorado Scrambles: Climbs Beyond the Beaten Path” this past Christmas. I’ve been staring at it since then, picking out lots of great climbs for us to do.
Pick # 1 – Torreys Peak via Kelso Ridge
Lauren and I left Denver Sunday afternoon and made the quick drive to the Grays Peak trailhead (1.5 hours from Denver). According to 14ers.com, the trailhead had been free of snow for only a few days. The dirt road to the trailhead is pretty rough, but we saw all sorts of vehicles up there.
At the trailhead, there are two or three great dispersed camping spots. Lauren and I were pretty sure we claimed the best one (it’s about 50 yards up the hill from the parking lot and bathroom). Since it was late May, it was still pretty chilly (30 – 40 at night). For whatever reason, maybe the altitude, we both had a terrible night’s sleep. At 5 A.M. when we woke up to start hiking, I think it crossed our minds to load up the car and drive home.
Around 6:00 A.M, we got on the trail. Most people head up the standard Grays Peak – East Slopes route, summit Grays Peak, then head over to Torreys. To escape the crowds, and to enjoy a challenge, Lauren and I opted to take Kelso Ridge to the top of Torreys Peak.
So, around 12,000 ft. we exited the main trail and got on Kelso Ridge. The route finding was pretty straightforward, and thankfully the wind was reasonable. We were on solid rock and patchy snow until we got 500 – 600 ft from the summit. We used ice axes for protection on the final stretch.
This picture is stolen from another site (see PPS), but it does a good job showing most of the ridge.
It took us about five hours to summit (plenty of breaks), and only two hours to get down thanks to a glissade that allowed us to drop 1,000+ ft in a matter of minutes. It was a beautiful day and a really fun climb…thankfully we didn’t skip out on this one.
PS – If you don’t have any rock climbing experience, this might be a bit uncomfortable for you.
PPS – Our camera didn’t want to work on the way up.