September 11, 2016

Torreys Peak – 14,267′

14er rank:

# of climbs:
First climbed:
Last climbed:
Routes climbed:


560' (Grays Peak - 0.6 mi S)
Summit/Clear Creek County
7.8 mi SW of Georgetown
11.8 mi E of Dillon

Kelso Ridge (Class 3)

Google Maps


This is the 14th 14er I've hiked, first back in June 2014 while solo. I hiked it a second time with my buddy Kevin in July 2015 and then again with several friends in June of 2016. These last two times we've followed up Torreys by summiting its taller neighbor Grays Peak as well. Torreys Peak is the 11th tallest peak in Colorado and the 2nd tallest in the Front Range.It cannot be seen from the north, east, or south except from higher ground and from one very short section along I-70 at Exit 220. However, both Torreys and Grays dominate the eastern skyline of the populated areas off to the west around the Dillon Reservoir. 

The standard route follows the heavily worn but very good Class 1 trail up toward Grays Peak. Along Grays eastern slopes, another trail cuts off to the right (west) and heads toward the Grays-Torreys saddle at ~13,700'. From here, it is only a ~560' hike up the broad ridgeline to the summit of Torreys to the north. One may also choose to bag both peaks in one day, thereby summiting Grays Peak first via its Class 1 standard route and then hiking back down to the saddle and up to Torreys. Both ways can be incredibly popular on a summer weekend. Because of this, I have used the alternate Class 3 Kelso Ridge route to reach the summit of Torreys all three times I've hiked there. Not only is it not crowded, but it is million times more fun!

The Kelso Ridge route begins at the Grays Peak Trailhead at 11,280', with the standard Grays Peak route. After hiking up the gentle Class 1 trail for 1.75 miles to 12,300', the very thin Kelso Ridge trail breaks off to the right (north), heads directly up to the saddle between Torreys Peak and Kelso Mountain at ~12,400', and turns left (west) along the ridgeline toward Torreys. The remainder of the hike is obvious.

Kelso Ridge takes you about 200' shy of the summit and includes three or four Class 3 sections. In my experience, the Class 3 sections increase in difficulty and exposure along the way but are quite manageable and straightforward. I would call it moderate Class 3, if there's such a thing. 

Near the top of the ridge, there is one last obstacle that I've always found quite interesting: a semi-knife edge leading to a ~10' white rock tower. If there's still a lot of snow around, the knife edge might be buried in a cornice and you could probably maneuver around the tower on its either side. If it's dry, after skirting over the knife edge it might be easiest to just climb up and over the tower, something I've done twice and thoroughly enjoyed each time. 

After reaching the other side of the rock tower, you now stand at the top of Dead Dog Couloir to your left (east). Dead Dog is a popular steep snow climb in spring and an equally popular place for a ski descent. The last ~200' to the summit is steep but short. From there, its easiest to descend down to the Grays-Torreys saddle and continue to follow a trail left (east) that eventually connects with the standard Class 1 Grays Peak route along Grays' east slopes. Others may decide to descend back down Kelso Ridge, something I've personally never done but have seen others do. Just be prepared for a few tricky downclimbs!


Trip Reports

Grays & Torreys (July 2015)