Gray’s Peak: 14,270′ (Rank: 9th)
Torrey’s Peak: 14,267′ (Rank: 11th)
Elevation Gain: ~3,634′
Route Length: ~8.3 miles
Centennial Pursuit: 6/100
Grays & Torrey’s Peaks are two 14ers often climbed together, and are tremendously popular among outdoor enthusiasts who live in the Front Range. Both are often climbed together in a single day with relative ease. Super accessible from right off I-70, these two peaks are actually a couple of the highest peaks in the state. Ranking 9th and 11th on the Centennials list, they are both higher than the much more recognizable front range peak, Longs Peak. In fact, Gray’s Peak is the tallest peak in the entire Front Range. The standard route up these peaks is very straight forward. These peaks offer first time 14er hikers a straight forward, switchbacking, and view filled route to the top.
A fun fact about Grays & Torrey’s: Gray’s Peak is the highest peak along the geographic continental divide that runs through the country from Mexico to Canada. In 2017, when I thru hiked the CDT, I stood atop Gray’s Peak, marking the highest point along my hike.
Getting to the trailhead is quite simple. Exiting from Interstate 70 at the Bakerville exit, you simply head south up Stevens Gulch Road. This road is dirt, and can be a bit rough. I recommend a slightly higher clearance vehicle, but you’ll be surprised to see what types of vehicles make it to the TH. As this is a very popular 14er hike, you should arrive early, and maybe even the night before, in order to get a decent parking spot.
Leading up to this hike, I had climbed Gray’s Peak 3 times, and Torrey’s Peak 2 times. On this day my friend and I were attempting the route up to Torrey’s peak, known as Kelso Ridge. This was a route I had descended in the past, but this would be my first time going up it. Following the main ‘extra wide’ single track trail up from the TH, you hike until both Gray’s and Torrey’s come into plain view. Eventually there is a trail that splits off to your right and climbs to the low point below Kelso Ridge and below Kelso Mountain.
Kelso Ridge Route:
This is where things get a bit more fun and and a bit more technical. Climbing up Kelso Ridge involves some Class 3, Class 3+, and even some Class 4 terrain (which is optional). You are able to make the summit choosing only Class 3 routes however. You will notice ‘worn’ routes, but there are no trails on this ridge. On plenty of occasions did I use all fours, using both feet and both hands to do some climbing up the ridge.
There are a couple crux’s towards the top, but if you take your time and scout them out, it is doable as Class 3 terrain. Climbing this route is extremely rewarding, especially if you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge.
From the top of Torrey’s it was a relaxed trip down to the saddle that separates the two. Then up again to the top of Grays Peak. I think it took us a total of 45 minutes to go from one summit to the other, but we were going fairly fast. Then down the standard route back to the trailhead. Quite a lovely day in the mountains.
My Take Away:
A few years ago a friend of mine and I decided to head up the night before we planned to climb Grays & Torrey’s. Upon exiting the interstate we found several vehicles parked and people running about. Turns out they were a rescue team assembled to help pull someone off of Kelso Ridge. Apparently a hiker had gotten ‘cliffed out’ and was now stuck in the dark. This is just an example of how important prior planning is.
For me, this route at times gets my heart racing. There for sure is exposure, loose rock, and route finding skills needed. This route is to be respected and taken seriously. If you’re like me, and enjoy pushing your limits, this may be a good route to do. I certainly felt nervous and shaky during a couple sections. Keeping a cool head, taking deep breathes, and going one move at a time however, it was doable and safe.
One regret I have was that I did not bring my helmet. There were quite a few people climbing this ridge the day we did it, and there is plenty of loose rock. Almost everyone I saw was wearing a helmet on this route, and they were smart to do so. Falling rock is no joke!
This is an amazing hike however, and the views and sense of accomplishment are astounding. When reaching the summit of Torrey’s peak from Kelso Ridge, you are greeted by hikers who went the standard route. They often great you by saying, “Did you just come up from down there!?”
As a side note:
Gray’s Peak is the highest Colorado Centennial I’ve done to date, and it is the 14er I’ve climbed the most times (this was my 4th summit of Gray’s Peak).
I have decided to offer my experience and knowledge to those looking for more outdoor adventure. If you’re interested in some Outdoor Adventure Consulting please shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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