Grays and Torreys are two of the most popular 14ers in Colorado. Their proximity to Denver and relatively easy trails to the summit bring lots of traffic. Don’t skip these as they afford a great view and a great day in the mountains.
The night before we summited we stopped at a large camping area near the trailhead to check out a meetup that Feral Mountain Company was putting on. After introductions everyone hung around the main area and hotdogs and beer were passed around. They even did a free giveaway sponsored by Mountain Hardware! Our friend Jason won a nice pair of hiking pants for being the newest Colorado transplant on his 7th day in the state. Since we new it would be an early morning we went to bed right after a quick debrief.
We woke up at 5 a.m. to try and beat the crowds. It turns out that wasn’t early enough. We arrived to the trailhead packed full of cars. We parked on the side of the road and decided once and for all to take Kelso’s Ridge to avoid heavy foot traffic.
We finally hit the trail around 6 a.m. The first part of the trail is nice and mellow. There’s a great view walking up the basin with Grays and Torreys peaking around the corner.
To take the Kelso Ridge route, make a right turn about a mile and a half in and pass an old mine. Here is where the fun really starts. You’ll gain elevation as the trail becomes less defined and loose. Nothing too crazy just yet.
Soon though you hit a few sections that confirm the class 3 rating. The first is a chimney. It’s short and well protected but you do have to make some climbing moves to get to the top. There are a couple other steep sections but none that I would call class 3 until you hit the approach to the Knife’s Edge. The navigation here is a little tricky and the chimneys are pretty dirty so this is the section to be careful on.
The Knife’s Edge is the crux of the route. I was super excited for it, but if you don’t like heights it is the dreadful part. Overall I would call it class 2 and if it wasn’t such a long fall, you could probably walk the whole thing. I personally walked across the side in my sticky approach shoes while holding on to the point of the ridge. A common way to get across is to scoot across on your butt.
Once you cross the Knife’s Edge you’re just a few minutes away from the top of Torreys. Needless to say, it was an epic way to welcome Jason to his first 14er summit!
After the summit we crossed the saddle to Grays going the reverse direction of the standard route. It isn’t too much of a saddle so the next summit comes soon after a short but steep upward trek. At the top of Grays I snapped a picture of the wooden plaques Feral gave out to those of us from the meetup who summited one or both 14ers.
We’d spent almost 5 hours on Kelso Ridge, so at this point the storms started rolling in. We didn’t spend long at the top of Grays before heading down. We did take a quick break on the way down to take a picture on this outcropping with cool clouds building in the background.
Right on time the rain and then hail started on us around 12:30 p.m. We were about a mile from our car at this point so we had almost timed it right. We picked up the pace and beat several parties to make it to the dry car after another long and rewarding hike!