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 Post subject: Grays Peak and Kelso Mountain - May 19, 2007
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 12:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:43 pm
Posts: 395
Location: Seattle
Date: 19 May
Peaks: Grays (14,278) and Kelso (13,164)
Length: ~7.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: ~4,400 feet
Combined Descents: ~4,000 feet
Routes: Grays - North Face, Kelso - North Couloir


I've wanted to ride the NW face of Torreys (the Tuning Fork) and thought Saturday might be the day, but after looking at the weather and looking at some recent Grays descents, I changed my mind while coverage is still decent on Grays. If Grays north face was still possible from the summit, why not? And then the thought of doing Grays and Kelso crossed my mind and seemed pretty sweet .... but it would require a much earlier start. And so the alarm was set at 3:00 AM, and I was on the road by 3:30 after a couple of snoozes.

It was clearer than this, but this is what the drive felt like as I was coming into Denver about to get onto C-470.
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After stopping for gas, juice, and food, I was back on the road, and reached Bakerville around 6:00 and parked at the abandoned cabin below Kelso. I was on the move by 6:30, right as a whole convoy rolled up. Turns out the road is blocked by a large drift about 100-200 yards uphill of the cabin. I made quick time to the summer trailhead and stopped to use the facilities. After crossing the creek, I started skinning up below Kelso, and the first objective was in sight.
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Common view ...
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I passed a few hikers and skiiers, and as I entered the basin, there was one climber high up in Dead Dog and another pair just starting to climb. As I worked my way up the small ridge that splits the basin in half, more climbers gathered at the base of Dead Dog and began the climb. The climb up Grays went quickly, with thanks to the previous climber who provided these:
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I was the first to summit Grays that morning at 8:45 and enjoyed the solitude, especially knowing that there were numerous climbers in Dead Dog and hanging out on the summit. I even heard a few "rock" calls while I was climbing.

Looking down across the basin towards Kelso. I would end up riding a little past the apron of Dead Dog, then headed down the trail before gaining the ridge on Kelso and working my war to the summit.
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Summit shot with Torreys in the background:
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The summit descent was possible, but I did have to sit and scoot across a small rock band about 50 feet below the summit ... it was a classy move. The top pitch was still firm, but the corn just got better as I moved lower. The consistent pitch into the bowl was super smooth and perfect, with just a thin corn layer that sounded great sliding down the untouched snow on every turn. Looking back up:
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Looking up Dead Dog made me even more appreciative of the relative solitude on Grays ... at least 15 climbers are visible:
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Passed a few pairs of skiiers heading up at 10:00 as I made my was towards the start of the climb up the ridge to Kelso. The views back just got better and better.
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But while the views behind were great, the views ahead were repeatedly discouraging. Kelso has more disappointing false summits than anything I think I've climbed. The ridge just kept going, but the summit finally appeared.
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Looking down the rollover into the North Couloir:
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A pair of skiiers climbed and descended before I got there, but they chose the banked band of snow on skiier's left. Strange, as it was way off the fall line in the bottom of the gully.

Hagar, the Citadel, and Pettingel:
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Grizzly:
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About 2/3 of the way down, before the couloir doglegs towards the road:
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The exit:
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The snow on Grays was perfect corn the whole way and was almost as good on Kelso. The top pitch was a bit manky from the easterly aspect, but the middle portion was creamy. The exit had turned to bottomless slush and was a bit interesting, but still manageable. I was back to the car by 11:15 for a round trip time just under 5 hours.

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"Oh man, that's like releasing a pack of wild baboons onto a keg of Icehouse next to a tied-up and gagged Lindsay Lohan." - Luca Brasi on TGR


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:52 am 
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Location: Montana
Damn - 4400 up , 4000 down & 7.5 mi in 5 hrs? Thats smokin(well compared to my pace). Great stuff! Way to get after it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 8:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:22 pm
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Location: Switzerland
Nice work!

Looks like the dead dog had a busy weekend.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:19 am
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Location: Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Nice TR. The stats in bold at the top are a nice touch. KJ, are you on a 14er mission? I recall seeing a lot of them in your TRs over the past few weeks.

Is Dead Dog always that crowded? :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 12:05 pm 
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Location: Seattle
IridePow ... it was definetly busy, almost to the point of being scary busy. Especially when some where just starting the climb when I passed the apron on my way to Kelso.

Lewmt ... thanks.

Luca ... not really a 14er mission or anything, since I'm moving to Seattle in late June. It's mostly just been accessible lines that go from summits lately. It was the 3rd 14er descent in a week, but of those, Democrat was the msot prized for me.

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"Oh man, that's like releasing a pack of wild baboons onto a keg of Icehouse next to a tied-up and gagged Lindsay Lohan." - Luca Brasi on TGR


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 5:41 am 
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Location: Mendham, NJ
Very nice! Dead Dog looks awesome, but id have stayed out of there too with all those climbers!

Now i really wanna do some Co. Spring skiing.....

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