Hike Torrey's Peak via Kelso Ridge

Colorado Grays Peak and Torreys Peak

Added by Jeff Richards

  • A fresh way to summit a classic Colorado 14er
  • Avoid the crowds usually found on the route up Gray's and Torrey's
  • Complete a classic scramble on a beautiful ridge
  • Test out your skills for some of the harder peaks in the state
  • 6.75 miles roundtrip
  • 3100' elevation gain

The start of this route up the Kelso Ridge is the same as doing the standard route of Gray's and Torrey's peaks. From the trailhead cross the large metal bridge and continue on the great trail as it slowly climbs away from the parking lot and trailhead. This first section is not steep, but provides a good warm up for the day ahead.

After hiking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour you will come across a junction of sorts in the trail right next to a massive pile of boulders (think carin, but about 10000 times the size). The main trail continues straight, but to the right will be a much smaller, but still well worn trail up to a low point between Kelso mountain and Kelso Ridge. Follow this small trail for less than a quarter of a mile up to this saddle and get ready for some fun.

When you reach this saddle, it is obvious which way you have to go, so don't worry about getting lost - just head toward Torrey's on a broken trail. For the first 10-15 minutes the trail is fairly easy to follow and only goes over 1 short and easy class three pitch. After about a quarter of a mile (probably less), you will come across the first actual challenge of the ridge. Ascend a steep slope a short distance and come across a giant wall of white rock. Here there are two options. The first, and more fun, option is to head up left, climbing a class 3 pitch up the white rock. This option has a hundred or so feet of sustained climbing and some good exposure once at the top of the white rock wall, but is in no way super technical. The second option is to cross over to the right of the white rock wall and ascend a steep, but still class two, gully to meet up with the trail just below where the class 3 pitch tops out. This way is a lot easier if you have an expensive dslr hanging around your neck...

After the white rock, look up the ridge and locate a dirt gully up and to the right of where the trail heads. This gully will be your next task. To get to it, follow the trail, and where the trail heads turn right and ascend a small wall to be dumped off in the gully. It is very steep, and very lose, but with time and careful stepping it poses no great risks. Once at the top of the gully, you will again be on top of the ridge. The next goal is another obvious high point some ways up the ridge. The nice part is, there is a trail that is fairly easy to follow to this point, and the difficult doesn't exceed difficult class 2.

After you have followed the trail to the top of this point, you get your first good look at the majority of the remaining route, as well as Torrey's summit. However, the most difficult portions of the climb remain ahead. From the point follow the ridge as it steadily climbs toward the summit. This section is class 2 at most, but is a lot of fun as it is a solid ridge and provides good exposure on one side and great views all around.

At around 13,900 feet you will regain the ridge crest and head up to the knife edge move. To get there you can follow along just to the left of the the ridge proper, or simple scramble along the ridge. Both are equally viable, but the ridge seemed to provide more solid rock to walk upon. Eventually you will hit a rock wall right before the knife edge. To get up this, you can either go to the left and climb up a steep class 3 pitch, or to the right and climb up a steep class 3 pitch. If you choose the right, traverse around the rock wall for a ways and find a chute on the north side of it. Follow this shoot as it climbs up a few hundred feet on mostly solid rock. There are probably multiple routes up, but there should be an obvious route of least resistance that stays class 3. Once at the top of this pitch, you'll be face to face with the knife edge. Now it is time to give yourself a little gut check and head directly over this sharp ridge. The rock is very solid and there are plenty of places to put your feet, but the exposure is dramatic and will definitely get your heart rate up.

At the end of the short knife edge there is a large tower of white rock. You may go straight up and over this pile, but it is far easier and less exposed if you drop down to the right of the highest point on the white rock. From here, drop down little ways and simply reconnect with the trail that take you up the final very steep and very loose section to the summit of Torrey's peak!

To get down after you celebrate your climb, simply follow the conga line of people on the mail Gray's/Torrey's trail.

Pack List

  • Camping gear if opting to stay overnight (there are plenty of campsites at the TH)
  • Plenty of water
  • Sunscreen
  • Sturdy boots with good traction
  • Gloves if desired for the steeper climbing sections
  • Helmet for falling rocks (not necessary, but nice to have)
  • Sense of adventure
  • Camera (GoPro would be great if you have one)
  • Guts
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Activities:

Camping, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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How to Get There

2 months ago

Really fun intro to Class III terrain!

Man... this is such a great route. I can't speak highly enough of it. Be sure to take some gloves as you'll be using your hands a lot. The "knife edge" section is about 8-10' foot of easy but really scary moves-about 80' down on one side and 1,200' down on the other. It's heady! Once you summit Torreys you may as well head over to Grays before heading back down.

2 months ago

about 1 year ago

One of my favorite scrambles in Colorado!

Such a fun way to climb one of the more popular 14ers in Colorado. After cutting off the main trail at the base of the ridge, it's amazing Class III all the way up. The knife edge "crux" is a short section that's easily passed with some super graceful straddling of the ridge. All in all, just a fun, straightforward scramble. A+

about 1 year ago

Added by Jeff Richards

Addicted to the mountains and in love with all they offer.

 Boulder, CO

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