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

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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Torreys Peak–via Kelso Ridge


  • Route: Kelso Ridge
  • Distance: 6.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,100
  • Start time: 8:01 AM  
  • Time: 6.25
  • Climbers: Alan and Sandy

Today marks the end of the alpine break. With approximately 5 months having past since our last foray above treeline, Alan and I literally dusted off ice axes, packed up crampons, and in a bit of early season delight in which you are not racing afternoon thunderstorms, rolled out of Denver at the seemingly later hour of 6:30.

For those unaware of the location of the climb the US Forest Service provides an impressively large-scale map along the trail, which is shown below.

It is true, the climb is in North America

The quick stroll up the valley quickly gave way to the saddle between Kelso Mountain and Torreys Peak. Looking at the craggy path before us, with the wind picking up, we were excited. Rarefied air, a bit of wind driven snow, and vertical gain spilling upward, the mountains demand awareness, and much of the mental chatter simply drops away, and in that moment I am wonderfully content where I am.

Untitled_Panorama1 copyThe ridge route, we climbed from right to left. Click on the picture to increase size and you can see avalanche debris at the base of the South Paw Couloir.

The climb switches from flats and simple, but steep, walk up sections, to using all limbs in areas where the best advice is simply do not fall.


Alan low on the ridge, before the difficulties began.


Alan topping out a rock rib.


Alan climbing a small snowfield, ending with a slight scramble.

Sandy catching his breath from kicking steps.

Sandy scrambling, in terrain that this photo makes look ridiculously steep.

Crossing a snow covered knife edge.

The going was slow, mostly caused by my sore legs, nagging cough, and lack of acclimation. Yet, it was steady, with us hitting the summit approximately 4 hours after we began.

Summit pose.

The descent was through wet snow, warmed by the increased solar intensity of high altitudes. Sun baked and feeling like we were once again moving through our preferred habitat, the walk to the truck was a lengthy conversation of upcoming climbs. 

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