Two Fourteeners in One Day
Grays and Torreys Peaks
In the Front Range on the Continental Divide are the Grays and Torreys Peaks where hundreds of hikers head on summer weekends to tackle both peaks in a day because they are so close to each other. On June 24, 2008 Greg started at 8:30 a.m. with a dozen people from church from the Steven's Gulch Trailhead to Grays first, then over to Torreys. It was in the 60's, so many had shorts on, but they used gaiters (polyester coverings over upper shoe and calf) when they reached the snow.
Directions: About 40 miles west of Denver along I-70 is Bakerville where you take exit #221 and head south 4 miles up a steep dirt road to Stevens Gulch. A 4WD is best to reach 11,280' elevation at the trailhead, but passenger cars can get fairly close with slow driving. Thankfully, there are restrooms at the parking lot.
Difficulty: Gray is a Class 1 wide and stable trail, but Torreys is a Class 2 because the final 500' thins out and has more unstable rocks. Round trip is 8 miles. Trailhead el: 11,280'. Grays summit: 14,270', Torreys summit: 14,267' (elevation gain: 3,000).
Above is a shot of Steven's Gulch looking back at the trailhead way in the distance. Here you can see where the trail splits one mile into the hike. Greg took the easier route left (right side of photo), but most in his group veered right to take the shorter, but more difficult ridge route (left side of photo) which ended up taking them 20 minutes longer because of the snow along the ridge. Keep an eye out for mountain goats that live in the area.
Below is a shot of Greg on the summit of Torreys with Grays behind him.
The following photos show views from the summit going in a circle first facing north, then west (you can see Dillon Reservoir by Frisco), south and east.
Soon the group that chose the shorter, but more challenging ridge route was spotted making their way through the deep snow using their ice axes to help pull them up. Some wore helmets/hard hats. There might be a risk of falling rocks along part of the steep ridge trail.
Greg was feeling good, so he and only three others from his group decided to summit Grays also, which is just half a mile south of Torreys Peak. They descended 547' to the saddle (elevation: 13,720'). Greg was now with the hardcore hikers and struggled to keep up. As they went up Grays along the ridge, the trail eventually seemed to disappear and they had to scramble as they approached the top.
Greg is on the summit of Grays with Torreys Peak behind him. Next is the view to the south.
There are many switchbacks going down Grays, so it's nice if you can slide down a glissade. Greg was fortunate that a woman in his group preferred hiking down, so she lent him her ice axe to help control his speed. It was his second time going down a glissade, so he knew what he was doing and had great fun sliding down. Since it was in the 60's the slide was a bit slushy. But with all the time it took to put on his snowpants, gloves and jacket for the descent, then take them off at the bottom, his speedy 800' drop wasn't that fast because the woman who lent him the ice axe beat him down.
You can see the serpentine tracks where skiers went down the mountainside. Before flying down a glissade you want to make sure there's plenty of snow at the bottom for you to slow down before you approach any boulders.
As he neared the parking lot, Greg felt a headache start from dehydration, but it disappeared after a couple hours.