Saturday, September 24, 2005

Torreys Peak - Kelso Ridge

You thought I quit hiking 14ers for the year, because I did not post last week, didn't you? No, no, no my friends. I just had prior commitments that forced me to stay in the city.

This week I am on call at work, so I only had Saturday as an option. Saturday is the sabbath, so the pager won't beep all day. Since I feel most spiritual in the mountains, I reasoned that a quick trip to Torreys and Grays was in keeping with the spirit. I spent seven hours last night at the Benny Hinn crusade at the Pepsi Center and didn't get to bed until 1:30 am, so I wasn't sure I would make it up in time.

Luckily my gumption was up when the alarm went off at 6am. I quickly threw some lunch in my day pack and took off. Six stop lights down the street, I realized I had forgotten my camera. What to do? Of course with the aspens in full color, I had to turn around. 20 minutes lost.

I arrived at the trailhead at 8:30 am and headed up. Using the Colorado Scrambles book as a guide, I easily found the trail to the Kelso-Torreys saddle (photo 1). There are roughly four pitches that could be classified as Class 3 on the way up. I have a picture of each here in order (photos 2,3,4). All can be bypassed, but what would be the point right? I like the fact that you can make it as hard as you desire. The last pitch over the knife edge and gray-white cliff is the most exhilirating (photo 4). I even heard people cheering from the Grays trail below! The rock is loose above this cliff and a bit annoying. Luckily there isn't too long a stretch of it. Staying to the far right or left in this gully is your best footing. I summitted in just under two hours from the truck!

Joining the masses at the top, I asked someone to snap my picture. Then I had a decision to make. Do I head back down the ridge for more fun, or trudge over to Grays to bag another 14er. My goal is not to summit all the 14ers, so I should have headed back down but Grays beckoned me to check him off the list anyway so I headed on over.

These fourteeners are getting easier. I made it over to Grays in no time and had a sandwich. Well, not really a sandwich because I left my cheese on the counter at home and we had no lunch meat. It was really just a bagel. The view from here is very cool. You can see Pikes Peak, Evans, Longs, Quandary, and the Lincoln group.

Because we had company in town (Michelle's family), I decided to make time back to the truck so I could get back to Aurora by early afternoon. I hoofed it down the trail and was back at the truck, completing the loop in just under 3:30 hours. Not a bad time for me... but I think the record is 2:20.

While the Kelso ridge doesn't quite match the Crestone Needle, it is a very fun scramble indeed. I could not quit smiling and whistling the whole way up. Plus its a lot closer to the house than the Sangre De Cristos.

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