Torreys Peak
Kelso Ridge
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? (WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. All 14er routes are more difficult and more dangerous in winter.
Difficulty:
 Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Grays Peak
Start:11,280 feet
Summit:14,267 feet
Total Gain:3,100 feet
RT Length:6.75 miles
USGS Quad.:Grays Peak
County Sheriff:Clear Creek: 303-679-2376
National Forest:Arapaho
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated:7/2019

Trailhead

Take I-70 to the Bakerville exit (#221). Leave the highway and drive south over to the dirt parking area near the start of Forest Road 189. This is the winter trailhead and even if the upper road is open, low-clearance passenger cars should park here. It's almost 3 miles to the summer trailhead. Continue up the Grays Peak (189) road. After 1 mile, stay straight at a junction. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead, at 11,280'. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.

Route

Hike 1.75 miles up the Grays Peak trail (#1) to 12,200' where the trail crosses a flat, rocky area - #2. Continue on the Grays trail and, when it begins to climb off to the left, stop and look for a smaller trail to the right, near 12,300' - #3. Leave the Grays trail and follow this trail north to the base of the slope under the Torreys-Kelso saddle. Look for an old mine shack up on the slope. Hike up the trail to reach the saddle, near 12,400' - #4. Turn left and hike onto a bump (#5) to see the Kelso Ridge route - #6. It's difficult to identify all of the route features from this vantage point. Hike over to some initial rock outcroppings and pass them on the right side - #7. Next, near 12,700', stay left of the ridge crest and climb into a notch - #8. Drop a few feet and ascend the first section of Class 3 rock - #9.

Back on the ridge, the route comes back into view and may still look confusing - #10. Scramble along the ridge, drop to the right and regain the ridge near 12,900', where you can see your next obstacle - a wall of white rock - #11. Continue along the ridge and then drop right to find a dirt gully that climbs to the base of the wall. Hike up to the wall and climb it - #12 and #13. It's Class 3, but you could take a more difficult line if you like. Above the wall, turn right and gain a point above the white-rock - #14. Drop a bit to the right and ascend another point #15 and #16. Once near the top of this point (13,350'), scramble along the left side of the ridge and regain the ridge to see yet another point, at 13,700' - #17 and #18. Hike over this point and continue along the ridge - #19.

Staying on the ridge, hike higher as you approach more serious terrain #20, #21 and #22. Your next obstacle is a bump of rock which blocks easy access to the end of the ridge. Near 14,000', stay left of large, angled rocks and climb steeply up the left side of the bump - #23, #24, #25 and #26. Scramble over to the route's crux - an exposed knife-edge - #27 and #28. There's a tower of white rock on the other side of the knife. Scramble across (#29) to reach the white tower. Climb around the right side of the tower (#30), drop a bit, and turn left to climb the final, Class 2 pitch to reach the summit - #31 and #32. For the descent, it's easiest to use the standard trail.

In Winter

In winter months, the southeast side of Kelso Mountain is prone to avalanche activity which may run over the summer Grays Peak trail. Unless you're confident that the snow in this area is stable, it's best to leave the trail near 11,600' and take a more direct line up through Stevens Gulch before re-joining the Grays Peak trail near 12,100'.

Notes

None

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