Grays and Torreys

Torreys has long thwarted me.  Its not a super challenging climb and its not a long hike, but for some reason, I was 0/2 on attempts to summit.

The first was during my first 14er climb on Grays.  We had planned to summit Grays and head over to Torreys, however the weather had other ideas.  Despite our early start that day and it being July 4th, we stood on the summit of Grays in clouds and snow showers.  This being our first 14er, we were vastly unprepared for the situation in shorts with only a fleece and a couple of water bottles.  I’m almost ashamed to admit how unprepared we were.  But rather than push our luck, we left the summit of Grays and headed back to the TH.

The second attempt at Torrey’s was somewhat of a halfhearted attempt from Loveland Pass.  On a hike to Grizzly Peak, I left early enough to leave a Torreys summit in the cards if possible, but an impending snow storm that had been gobbling up the mountain ranges to my west all morning sent me back to my car.

With this in mind, we set up to Stevens Gulch on a Saturday morning…twas going to be a carnival atmosphere on the trail today.  We got a little later start out of Boulder than we wanted to, but still plenty early.  However, we paid the price on having to park a good ways down the road below the TH.  Not a big deal though…we could use the extra mile or so.

We were quickly packed up and ready to hit the trail/road.  We spent a good while passing cars and telling people to turn around as they came up behind us, but we made it up the TH without incident and just in time to catch the end of an alpenglow.

Catching the last glimpse on Torrey's neighbor Mt. Edwards, a Centennial 13er

After getting through a crowded first half mile the trail opened up and we were alone with another couple.  We could see the conga line of people zig-zagging the upper slopes of Grays, but down on the lower part of the trail, we had found a nice place of solitude.  This being my first 14er, Stevens Gulch has a special place in my heart as the first place I ever saw “real mountains.”  As in mountains without a paved road around.

With our goal in the distance, we stopped to admire the wildflowers along the way.

Grays and Torreys is not the most riveting hike nor does it have anything relating to exciting terrain along the standard route, so we moved quickly towards the saddle.  Seeing the snake of people heading towards the summit of Grays, we decided to traverse over to Torreys first to at least move against the flow of people.  In between our current trail and the saddle between the peaks, lay a 100 meter long snowfield along a decently steep slope.  Sans the summits, crossing this would be the most fun we had all day.

Crossing over to Torreys

Once on the other side of the snowfield, it was a quick jaunt up the party on Torreys’ summit.  We saw more people on this summit alone than we had seen on Pikes, Harvard, and Humboldt combined.  While not the usual reason we head in to the hills, it was something fun to embrace for a day.

Summit approach to Torreys with a solid remaining cornice for mid-July

View from the summit of Torreys looking West (I believe)

Party on the summit!

Christine and I on the summit of Torreys

After spending some time on the summit and letting Casey make some friends and then get in a fight with said friend, we venture over to Grays.  From the summit of Torreys, there appeared to be a party of ants on top of Grays.

The ants go marching...

It took us a bit longer than expected to traverse (40:00), but we weren’t pushing the pace at all.  The weather looked great and it was a wonderful day to be up high.

Grays sat beautifully in front of us for our 2nd summit of the day

We paused for a brief time for pictures on the summit of Grays.  I’d like to say that I enjoyed it more this time as I was prepared for the temps and wind, but I still think my first time was better.  Something about that first summit that is 100x harder than you thought it would be and getting through something you have no business doing is intensely rewarding.  It can’t be replaced.

The view from Grays...much less cloudy than last time!

We summit Grays together. Thats 4!

Torreys has always been a majestic looking mountain.  I love the brief glimpse you catch and a clear day when you speed by on I-70 right below the tunnel.  It always holds my eye for a minute.  Today was no different as we looked across from Grays.

Torreys Peak from Grays

Our hike down was filled with people, but we did however have 2 noteworthy events.

1. Mountain Goats!

They stayed off in the distance, but it had been a while since we had seen these beautifully ugly creatures.

2. We had forgotten to put Christine’s bike in the car (we were mountain biking in Winter Park the next day), leading to much stress that it would still be there when we returned.  Thankfully, it was!

The best part of our day! Emmie is still on the roof!

Once we embraced the crowds, it was a beautiful day in the high country.  We were able to conquer a nemesis while enjoying a party and some solitude.

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