A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kelso Ridge

  • Route: Kelso Ridge
  • Distance: ~6.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet
  • Start time: 5:30 AM
  • Time:5 hours, including 28 minutes on the summit 
  • Climbers: Richard, Sandy
I was looking for something close to town on the I-70 Corridor and Richard was looking for some scrambling adventure, the Kelso Ridge of Torrey’s Peak was the obvious selection. We left town on Friday afternoon, grabbed a growler of pale ale at Tommyknockers and were eating dinner at the trailhead at 7:30.
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Ramen? Hell yeah!
Richard and I opted for bivy sacks for simplicity. You feel exposed, but at the same time you can make camp and break camp in a matter of minutes. Plus, you get a great view of the stars when you wake up with every noise the night throws at you, which is far too often.
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The view from my bivy.
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Richard featuring the bivy sack and Coors Light combo.
The alarm sounded at 4:45, which felt like 9 minutes after I fell asleep, but with the first hints of alpenglow painting the high peaks we were motivated to get on the trail. There was running water on the trail and a few minor snowfields to cross, but it was easy to keep your feet dry.
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Grays Peak in the early morning light.
The hike starts mellow, but once you hit the ridge the character of the climb changes. Helmets go on and the level of concentration increases. The terrain does not require a rope, but features plenty of places where a fall would be described as best avoided. There was a small snowfield near the top, where Dead Dog ties into the summit ridge, this was the only place the ice axe came out on the ascent.
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Richard on the ridge crest.
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Richard ascending one of the steeper portions.
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Taking a rest break.
We hit the summit to clear weather and little wind, while the Front Range was socked in by clouds.
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Summit view, looking east towards Denver
The descent was quick, featuring two glissades that let us drop several hundred vertical feet in less than a minute.
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Richard at the base of his glissade.
We hit the trailhead at 10:30, giving us 5 hours on our feet. A solid effort, especially since this was Richard’s first 14er of the year. Richard left me at the trailhead, where I was to be picked up by Jen for Phase II of the weekend to begin. With an hour to kill it was time to sort gear, cook up some more ramen and do some solar laundry.
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Dry! And may UV kill the reek.
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Cooking food and trying to make sense out of a lot gear.
Next stop, Castle and Conundrum for some Elks 14ers.

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