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452 Kelso Ridge 2011-08-06

Grays Peak from the trail

After a pancake breakfast at the Echo Lake Lodge on Mount Evans, we went to Idaho Springs for a short visit and then on to Grays Trailhead. The road to the trailhead used to be in terrible shape; but now is passable for most vehicles.

At the trailhead the mountain was bustling with climbers returning from their days' adventures. We set up residence in the Element and packed for the climb. Jon and Laura joined us soon.

A late afternoon rainstorm lasted much longer than expected and left us eating snacks for dinner and then gave us a good excuse to turn in early.

We awoke to good weather; but knew we would have to move quickly to avoid the day's storms. As the sun rose we began our hike. The morning shades on the mountains were better than normal.


traversing below the crest


After an easy approach, we turned off the regular trail and headed to the ridge. We had climbed Kelso Mountain, which takes a similar approach, last year; but this was our first time on Kelso Ridge of Torreys Peak. From the small saddle the climb looks daunting; but as you ascend, everything unfolds.

At one point on the ridge, we traversed a point on the east instead of climbing over it on the ridge. We essentially followed footprints onto dangerous ground. Soon we were scrambling up rock that was reminiscent of the Maroon Bells - loose and steep. Once back on the ridge we stayed close to the crest for the rest of the climb.

We knew the crux of the climb was near the summit. As we approached the top we found some harder scrambling and then made our way across more rock to a white tower. Without looking at the route description, we took the natural line. When we stood above the white tower we discovered that we had completed the crux section without even knowing it!


nearing the summit


A short walk led us to the summit. On the descent Amy and I split up so that I could also do Grays Peak again, while she continued back to the trailhead. The ascent of Grays was fine, just a lot of people on the top of the popular peak and even more ascending.

Jon and Laura also climbed Torreys and so had only one last peak (Pikes) to complete all of the Front Range Peaks. We left the trailhead and headed toward Colorado Springs, we had reservations for Barr Camp on Pikes Peak.

A few Kelso Ridge notes ...

The road to the trailhead is passable.

Remember the uphill vehicle had the right of way. If the uphill car stops, they might have trouble regaining the speed required to climb. The down bound vehicle should stop and wait on the uphill vehicle to pass. It is really not that hard.

There are privies at the trailhead; but they are not regularly cleaned. Sanitizing wipes are not a bad idea!

The parking area fills on most days of the summer. On weekends, it is crazy.

Folks camp in the woods close to the parking area.

Water is not available and I would not drink the water from the stream even if filtered. The area was heavily mined.

Follow the Grays Peak Trail until level with the saddle between Kelso Mountain and Torreys Peak, a small trail leaves the main trail and leads to the saddle.

Once on the saddle, climb close to the ridge crest all of the way to the summit.

There are only three short scrambling sections; but falls from any of the sections would hurt. Be careful. Look for the safest way. If it still seems too hard, it is okay to turn around.

Cross over the summit and descend the standard South Slopes route.

Keep an eye to the weather, the climb is on the ridge with few places to hide, all the way to the summit.

Happy Kelso Ridge trails


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