Trail Report - Torreys Peak - Kelso Ridge - Colorado

August 15, 2020

Written by Paul van Valkenburgh

Showing Small Pictures    

Trail Report - Torreys Peak - Kelso Ridge - Colorado
10.1 Miles Round Trip
3661 feet of elevation gain
Summit Elevation - 14,267'
Date Climbed: August 15, 2020
Climbers: Paul and Tommy

One More Look At The Knife Edge

Torreys Peak! - Kelso Ridge!! This Colorado Classic class 3 scramble lived up to its reputation as not only being a great class 3 confidence builder, but also a flat out blast to climb! With 4-5 cruxy sections, including the White Wall and the Knife Edge, most of which also involve exposure, you can take on some advanced climbing / scrambling in smaller doses. The standard route up Torreys is .. well .. just a walk up. So, if you're looking to do this mountain the fun way, Kelso Ridge is by far the way to go.

As background, this was my third trip to Stevens Gulch where you access the standard routes up Grays and Torreys as well as Kelso Ridge. Grays had been my first 14er in 2016 and I didn't even think twice at the time that I was 'orphaning' Torreys. I'm glad I had to come back as it allowed me to do Kelso Ridge! I love studying routes and had been fascinated by the Kelso Ridge route for a long time. In 2017, after I had done my second 14er, Yale, I attempted Kelso Ridge but failed. I hadn't recovered yet from Yale, had a terrible night of sleep, and drove from Salida and was exhausted. I couldn't navigate the first crux comfortably and disappointingly turned around. It took me 3 years to make it back but boy was it worth it!!

As with most of my more challenging routes, my brother from another mother Tommy came with me to take on the awesome climb. The route follows the standard Grays-Torreys route for the first mile and then cuts off to the right towards the saddle between Torreys and 13er Kelso Mountain (hence the name Kelso Ridge). There is a small uphill past an old mining ruin and you are on the ridge at the saddle. Then the fun begins up Kelso Ridge!!

Getting Started Up Kelso Ridge On Torreys Peak

The first few obstacles on the ridge are easier and get you doing a bit of scrambling as a warm up. Then you hit the first class 3 section. This was the section where I turned around in 2017. At the time, I let it get to my head and did struggle with going up the middle 'chimney' path. You can also go left up a crack-y way and right up a class 4 route. Since the chimney had spooked me, I told myself, 'I'm going to do this now that I'm more experienced, and if I can pull this off, not only will I know I've come a long way, but I'll be past one of the cruxs!!'. Sure, enough, it was straighforward and I zipped right up the chimney!!

The First Class 3 Section On Kelso Ridge

Paul Continues Scrambling On Kelso Ridge

The Boys Are Pumped Up On Kelso Ridge

**** Note to anyone reading this trying to determine if Kelso Ridge is for you - Several sections do require a little bit of 'climbing' with hand-hold and foot-hold placements and such. There can be some good exposure where a fall would really hurt (or worse!). So, in addition to having scambling skills, having done a little indoor or outdoor climbing beforehand would help. This is NOT by any means meant to scare you, but just to let you know there is a level of confidence on rocks you will need to do this. If you have that, go for it and you will love it!! ****

Tommy Continues On The Gnarly Terrain On Kelso Ridge

TheTrailContinues Up The Ridge

After the first crux, there is more slow but steady climbing. The next real crux is the 'White Wall'. From the pictures and description on 14ers dot com, I was a bit nervous about this class 3 section. Truth be told, in my mind, this section was definitely easier that the first crux class 3 section. I thought it was barely class 3 and just a breeze to scoot up!! The only thing I will say though is that when you reach the top of the White Wall and have to turn right to the upper portion of the white rocks, there is some serious exposure on the left side... so be prepared for that!!

Paul Cruises Up The White Wall

Looking Back Into Stevens Gulch

Tommy Tops Out On The While Wall

Are We Having Fun Yet

There are more really cool scrambling sections continuing up.

A Great Look Ahead On Kelso Ridge

Tommy Continues Up Kelso Ridge

To Be So Lucky To Spend A Day Here

Beautiful Scenery With Kelso Mountain Behind

Lots And Lots Of Scrambling To Go

Tommy Continues Up Kelso Ridge

Having A Blast With Kelso Mountain Behind

How Are We Supposed To Get Up There

Closer to the top, near 14,000 feet, and before the Knife Edge, the route description says to stay to the left of some angled rocks and then climb up. I found that going right by the angled rocks was very nice and you could use your legs to push off the side of the wall (maybe called a 'stem' move?) as you move up the rocks. I think either way is fun climbing that 'goes'!!

Right Of The Angled Rocks Version

Right Of The Angled Rocks Seemed Comfortable

Tommy On The Right Of The Angled Rocks

Tommy navigates the Right of the Angled Rocks on Kelso Ridge!:

Then to the infamous Knife Edge and the white rocks afterwards! Wow!! Maybe a prep for Capitol Peak??!! Exposed on both sides, the Knife Edge puts you to the mental test. What a rush!! Take your time and it's a blast! Then, the white rocks afterwards aren't bad at all assuming it is dry. It is 'platform-ish' though, so you just want to be careful as there is exposure to the right. Some folks tackle the white rocks on a lower right platform while others just climb up and over. I was in a groove at that point and figured why not.. it's up and over!!

Paul On The Knife Edge

Paul Continues On The Knife Edge

PaulAlmostAcross The Knife Edge

The Exposure On The Knife Edge

Tommy Finishes The White Rocks

Tommy navigates the Knife Edge on Kelso Ridge!:

To reach the summit is a short climb after the Knife Edge and white rocks.


Views To The West From The Summit Of Torreys Peak

View Into Stevens Gulch From The Summit Of Torreys Peak

Views To The North From The Summit Of Torreys Peak

Looking Down Kelso Ridge To Kelso Mountain

Graphic Of Kelso Ridge On Torreys Peak

Saying Goodbye Stevens Gulch

After researching 14ers for years and knowing that this route was such a classic, it was such a feeling of elation to have made it!! If you are looking to move into class 3 and love climbing and scrambling on rocks, give this route a try!

One More Look At The Knife Edge

Hope this has been enjoyable and / or helpful to anyone reading it!!


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