Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kelso Ridge- A new twist on Torreys Peak

Torreys Peak via Kelso Ridge route
An exciting class 3 alternative to the standard route.
~8 miles RT, ~3500' of elevation gain (including Grays Peak)
Climbed with: Scott Lowery, Kerry Fessenden, and Kerry's dad and sister.

Grays Peak (L) and Torreys Peak (R)

Group photo about a mile in (I took it)

The route for Kelso ridge begins at the saddle between Kelso Mountain and Torreys Peak

Scott and I split off the group to try the exciting and often-mentioned Kelso Ridge route. It's pretty easy to figure out where it starts because the saddle is obvious.
Off the beaten path (photo by Scott)

Almost immediately the trail gets interesting

Very soon after you start there is an easy class 3 section to get you started on the fun.

Coming to the first class 3 section

Scott Emerging after the class 3

A rocky part. The climbing crux can be seen just below the "fin" on the top right
For the most part it's rocky class 2, and there is a trail as well. It's not too difficult to lose however, on the rockier sections. When in doubt, stick to the ridge crest. 

At the base of the climbing crux. I went straight up, and easier path lies to the left (Photo by Scott)

Climbing out of the "Crux" area

I will say the climbing crux could be somewhat challenging for someone who has never tried class three. In addition, you are somewhat exposed upon reaching the top, where you then take a sharp right turn and scramble up easier terrain. We both did the right chimney (supposed to be more difficult) and it's hard class 3 climbing.

We got off-route a little and ended up climbing this way to regain the ridge
Easy climbing near the top
So the mental crux of the route is the knife edge ridge. Compared to Capitol Peak, this is shorter and easier. HOWEVER, it's not necessarily something a newbie would feel comfortable with. Also, the rock was very smooth and slick from use, unlike Capitol which offered more traction. To the right you have a short but painful tumble should you fall, to the left you have the top of a steep snow-holding couloir which could prove deadly should you tumble into it accidentally.
Starting off (I have a red backpack on)  (Photo by Scott)
Looking back on the knife edge
Scott finishing on the knife edge
After the knife edge it's a short and easy climb to the summit of Torreys peak, where we soon met up with the rest of our group.

Mountains, mountains everywhere

We met up with the group again on the Torreys summit

The summit of Grays Peak from Torreys. We can see about 100 people on the summit.

Kerry F. and Scott on the summit. They are engaged. :)
Looking back at Torreys from the saddle

Kerry and Scott heading up to Grays Peak

The summit of Grays Peak was insanely crowded, so we quickly traversed to the  south end of the summit for some relative peace and quiet.

Mt. Evans (R) and Mt. Bierstadt (R) from the summit of Grays Peak

For as popular as Grays Peak is, it sure has a spectacular view

So manly

Another group photo from the summit, Breck in the background

A superb day for a hike in the mountains

A last look back

The wildflowers were simply outrageous

Back at the trailhead, a welcome sight

Grays Peak and Torreys Peak are two easy 14ers that see a ton of traffic. However, it's still a pretty area and a nice trail, and the Kelso Ridge route is a great escape and a test piece for your 14er climbing abilities. Don't miss this alternate ascent of Torreys if you plan on doing all 58, or want a fun challenge close to Denver.

No comments:

Post a Comment