Grays Peak (14,270′) & Torreys Peak (14,267′)

Adventures4 Comments

Distance 8.58 miles
Moving Time 3 hr 57 min
Summit Elevation 14,270 feet (GP) / 14,267 feet (TP)
Elevation Gain 4,319 feet
Route Stevens Gulch

My wife and kids are out of town for 2 weeks so I decided to take the opportunity to go climb some more 14ers. I have been on hiatus lately for no particular reason. I am planning on climbing Mt. Elbert on the 4th of July but I figured I better get a warm up in. Most of the time involves psyching myself up, getting up early, getting to the trail, etc. So I am going to warm-up for Elbert, why not on another 14er? Its decided.

Grays Peak and Torreys Peak sit side by-side near I-70 and the Eisenhower tunnel. Quick in to the trailhead. I like that. The trailhead is actually further up the road from where B2 and I got stuck in the snow during that recovery operation. Snow is off the road so I am safe!

I spent Saturday running around getting new gear. If there is anything I like to buy, its new gear. I didn’t have an official hydration pack (just an old convert) so I picked up a REI Cascade HF. After using it today, I have to say it rules. I like the bite better. Its got a valve so you can take the hose off when you fill it. Its got this plastic shield around the water bag to help structure the organization in the bag. It rules. I also bought new boots about a months ago after deciding my 5+ year old ones had to go. Bought some nice Asolos. Been wearing them around town looking dorky trying to break them in. Also bought some new socks and other stuff I had to have.

Anyway, summer afternoons in Colorado usually equal thunderstorms. Rarely with rain but plenty of lightening. Lightening is not the climbers friend. Since I am going by myself on the climb, I started getting hypersensitive about the weather. I seem to always have something to fixate on for these trips which puts my stomach in a knot.

I tried to go to bed by 9:30. I actually feel asleep! But I had drank a bunch of water in the evening to get hydrated and I woke up at 11 PM to pee. I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Watched some Pimp My Ride. Those guys can paint. Anyway, not falling asleep. I recalled seeing some sleeping pills in the medicine cabinet. Maybe I should take one? If there was ever a time I needed to sleep, its now. I have to wake up at 3 and be ready to roll! So I took the pill. Nothing was happening. Started feeling weird. I re-read the instructions and then noticed the expiration date — 1/2005. Oops. Nothing like some bad meds. Now, I think I am going to be sick and die because of the expired pill. No rational thoughts are happening. I think I passed out an hour later from stress exhaustion.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. 3:00 AM alarm. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. Shit. I gotta get up. Its hard. Got up at 3:30. Looked good outside — not that the weather here has anything to do with a mountain 100 miles away. Driving.

I started up the road to the trailhead sometime after 5. Got to the trailhead about 5:45. Sun is coming up. Plenty of light. Feeling like I late. Parking lot is nearly full. Good sign for the solo hiker. Started my GPS, iPod, and other various electrical devices and started walking. 4 miles and 4000 vertical feet to go. With a bit of fog for mystique!


After getting over that first 10 minutes of restrained breathing from the altitude, I was rocking. I was passing everyone I encountered. Feeling good. No breaks, other than equipment adjustments or taking off a coat. Otherwise, I just kept cranking. Music rules. Plus, looking down and seeing your exact mileage ticking away on your watch is great stuff.


All in all, the hike up to the top of Grays is kinda boring. No trees/forest. Just walking a trail the whole time until you hit the switchbacks which take you right to the top. Here is a long distance picture of thew switchbacks up Grays.


I hit the summit of Grays before 8:30. I took a few pictures and talked with the 5 other dudes up there.


Then, I decided to try for the double combo and hit Torreys too! The two are connected by a saddle. But unfortunately, you have to hike down about 800 feet, walk a mile, then back up about 1000 feet to hit it. My legs wanted to be done going up but we had come this far. This is looking at Torreys from Grays.


I grinded it out and got up to the top of Torreys. Same view since the mountains are side by side but I had to be there once. The official rule is that you have to climb 3,000 feet in order to claim a summit. So this saddle cross to Torreys doesn’t count as a real ascent. But until I get close to hitting all the peaks in Colorado and having to verify my results, I am good with how I did it.


Started coming back down. Had to cross a small snow field. The snow was wet and slippery. Furthering my decision that I hate snow unless I am skiing on it.


After that, I just rejoin the trail I came up on and hiked back out. Church must have gotten out…because people where everywhere. I don’t think they were all trying to summit, but I saw more people coming down than I do when I walk around my neighborhood. This is definitely a popular summer trail.


I got back to my car around 11:30. This was pretty much the view on the way back to the car as you made your way through the valley.


However, right at the exit of the trail where I just had my internal I made it celebration, there was a group of people from this Colorado 14ners initiative. Old guy started talking to me about the weather. He then asked me when I left and I said 6. He looked at his watch and said its after 11. “5 hours and change”, he said. “Not too bad but you definitely didn’t break any records”, he said. I wanted to kick that old bastard in the nuts. Thank for pissing on my party. When I start going for quickest time on summit attempts, I should find something else to do.

Here is the GPS upload from the trip. Pretty cool to see. I exported the data to Google Earth and made this route map. Get this route data for your own Google Earth.


Here are the rest of the pictures. As if I didn’t post enough.

So the summary: 2 peaks bagged today. 50 to go. Even though it may sound tough, these were easy if you are in good physical shape. Let me also tell you that I was passed by about a dozen runners — who were running — the trail getting ready for the Leadville 100. Google that if you think you are in good shape. These people are animals. As for me, my legs are tired and I have a big blister on the back of each heel from my new boots. Hope they heal by next weekend!