After spending the past few weeks climbing some of the more technical 14ers, I wanted to take a break and knock out a couple of the walk up ones near Denver. I’d never done Gray’s and Torrey’s peaks, and figured it was a great chance to introduce a few friends to their first experience of hiking at higher altitude.

One really great thing about the front range peaks is that you don’t have to get up obscenely early to make the summit and get home at a reasonable time. We met at my place around 6:30 am, and headed out. We got there too late to get a parking spot in near the trailhead itself, but were early enough to get one not more than a few hundred feet down the road.  The trail was crowded, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been told it could be.

The weather was looking perfect, and when we finally hit the summit of Gray’s right around noon, there were still no clouds in sight, so we headed over the saddle to Torrey’s. We hit the second summit around 1:45 or so, and then started to head down.

Three of the group and the two dogs headed down the standard route, but I was feeling cocky after hanging out in the Elk Range so I decided I wanted a bigger challenge. I’d read about a class 3 traverse on Kelso Ridge that would come out near the main trail…I figured that it would be fun, and save some time on the main route down. Sarah decided to join me, so we headed off toward the ridge.

Well, the route wasn’t that easy to find. Somehow I got off route very early and ended up descending way too quickly. I’m still not sure exactly how it happened, but we ended up in Dead Dog Couloir. I’m sure this a great snow climb, but for a summer descent it leaves a hell of a lot to be desired. We worked our way down through some tricky down-climbs with lots of loose rock all around. Taking our time, we ended up down on the main trail about an hour later than the folks who’d taken the standard path down…so much for time saving!

Total distance: 8.6 mi
Max elevation: 14298 ft
Total climbing: 4541 ft
Total Time: 08:59:09

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