Based on a recommendation, I found myself leaving my homebase of Leadville and the Wasatch Range heading south along I-70 towards the Bakerville exit. I was a bit apprehensive about driving my 2WD Honda Accord up the three miles of Forest Road 189 to the main trailhead. The reports of whether you need a 4WD or not are conflicting. Let me say this, it’s definitely possible to make that drive in a car like mine…it’s just not my idea of fun. I was careful to avoid rocks and slowly made my way to the trailhead. I’m glad I did, because that forest is just like any ole forest and would make for a loooong day climb on a crowded mountain.
At about 7 a.m., I set out relatively late by my standards. The trail is wide and very well maintain and I was moving quickly. Judging by the two dozen cars that were already in the lot, I figured I might pass a few people, which soon enough I did.
Grays is considered to be an easy 14er due to the proximity to Denver and I-70 very easy to reach. This attracts TONS of people. It does surprise me, however, that some don’t seem to take the mountains very seriously. Jeans were not uncommon and some people seemed to be carrying little more than a water bottle. I am definitely a proponent of traveling light, but how can you not carry a first-aid/emergency kit and an extra layer or two? I guess there were enough people around to bail others out quickly.
As I mentioned, I moved quickly though not fast. Nevertheless, I was able to pass everyone, and I had Grays all to myself after a 93 minute ascent (I am convinced this ascent is possible in around an hour).
It was an exceptionally clear day and the wind wasn’t bad either. Nevertheless, I started to get a bit cold, so I headed for Torreys. On the ridge between the two mountains, I ran into my first mountain goat and decided to take a detour so he could finish his breakfast. A runner descending Torreys informed that there were more at the summit, and sure enough: six of them were waiting for me up there. What a majestic moment. It was hard to strike a balance between taking pictures and taking it all in. This was definitely a big highlight!
Then more and more people arrived both from the South slopes and the Kelso Ridge. It was time for me to leave. I know Torreys is listed as Class 2. I would say that it is a very, very easy class 2.
On the way down, I continued to be stunned by the crowds. There must have been 200 people on that mountain…and it was only a Thursday. Boy, must it get crazy here on the weekends. Nevertheless, these are peaks with beautiful views and very highly recommended for first-time 14er climbers. Just make sure to bring the appropriate gear. 🙂
Date climbed: 6/24/10
Time: 1:33 up (Grays)/2:05 (Torreys)/ 1:38 down from main trailhead (I talked to a lot of people during my descent and generally took it easy)