Grays and Torreys are some of the most popular 14ers because of their close proximity to I-70 and Denver. Even on a Monday during shoulder season the parking lot was nearly full by the time we arrived at 6:15am. 4WD/AWD and high clearance is a must. The road is steep and rutted out. I didn’t bring my jeep on this particular trip so I left my sedan at the 2WD trailhead right off the freeway and hopped in a friend’s SUV to carpool to the upper parking lot. While it was great weather and a fun day, I wish I had taken the advice of some friends of mine and done Kelso ridge to Torreys rather than the standard route. I think it would’ve been way more fun, and I very much encourage anyone who enjoys some class 3 fun to do Kelso ridge.
We started off that early October morning just before sunrise, it was chilly, the first snow had capped the peaks. It took us about an hour to hike the first mile and a half to the information sign just below 12,000′. We watched the aplenglow engulf the high peaks, as we continued our way up through the glacial basin.
Once we made it to the shoulder on Grays, it was a simple follow up the switchbacks in the snow to the summit. Unlike some other class 1 peaks, this was a fairly straight forward climb. No real false summits. Spikes helped stick to the icy snowpack. We summited Grays in 3 hours with amazing views of Evans, Bierstadt, the Mosquito, Sawatch, and Elk ranges.
After a brief snack and photo break on the summit we headed down the north shoulder of Grays toward Torreys. The descent was quick, maybe like 10-15 minutes, but the climb up Torreys was steep and annoying. It took about 35-40 minutes to climb torreys from the saddle. Since the trail faced the sun, it was dry. The scree trail wasn’t too bad, but it was a bit of a grind and made me wish I had taken the Kelso ridge route instead. I actually really enjoy class 3 scrambles as long as its solid. Walking up a steep scree ridge was kindof boring frankly.
Luckilly, there are no false summits for Torreys on the standard route either. It was a quick straight shot up the shoulder to the summit. the similar views continue, with the added view of a snowy Grays Peak. The weather was simply perfect! Sunny skies, and little to no wind. The Kelso ridge route was clear from the summit and could be seen the entire way up and down the standard route.
We hung out on the summit for a bit before heading back down to the saddle to meet up with the bypass trail. Descent took a little over an hour and a half back to the car. We saw a number of ptarmigans on the tundra and again, overall it was a goregous day and I was glad to finally check these two off my list. After climbing Longs the first time at age 13, Grays and Torreys were supposed to be my next 14ers during high school. We were on our way when we got weathered out. I had wanted to climb them ever since so it was bitter sweet to make them #14 and #15 for me!