Welcome to SP!  -
Kelso Ridge

Kelso Ridge

Kelso Ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 39.64280°N / 105.8208°W

Object Title: Kelso Ridge

Route Type: scramble

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: class 3/4

Route Quality: 
 - 53 Votes


Page By: mpbro

Created/Edited: Jul 15, 2001 / Dec 30, 2002

Object ID: 155606

Hits: 30131 

Page Score: 86.47%  - 23 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote



Most people start from the Stevens Gulch trailhead, which is northeast of Grays/Torreys. Follow the Grays Peak trail to the 12,200-foot level. At this point, you will come close to the saddle between Kelso Mountain and Torreys Peak. From here, proceed 1/4 mile north to the saddle. Look for abandoned (or maybe not) mining buildings here. Kelso Ridge is the 1800' northeast ridge of Torreys.

This TopoZone map should help.

Route Description

Proceed directly up Kelso Ridge from the Kelso Mountain/Torreys Peak saddle at 12,400 feet. You will initially encounter some class 3 scrambling over good rock. If you are uncomfortable with this section, turn around and use the other trail, because you will encounter similar, if not harder climbing...1000 feet later.

For the next thousand feet after the first class 3 section, the route is mainly class 2 without serious exposure, though it is wonderfully airy. The crux occurs around 14,000', when you encounter a very solid 40-foot class 4 buttress. The gully can be traversed via a rotten gully to the south. Soon after the buttress, Torreys' famous knife edge appears along the ridge, where a vein of quartzite bisects the granite. This knife edge literally comes to a point no wider than a couple inches in places, and has spectacular exposure on both sides. After a single highly exposed class 3 move to exit the knife edge, the remaining 200 yards of the route ascends a loose 30-degree, north-facing scree slope.

You can descend the usual Grays peak trail if you do not wish to downclimb.

Essential Gear

An ice axe may be useful for the last 200 feet of the climb during winter/spring.

Exposure-averse climbers may desire a rope at two sections: the class 4 buttress and the knife-edge traverse. In either case, a half (30-meter) rope with a few nuts will suffice for both climbing and rappelling. The class 4 buttress will accept rappel slings easily, but you must bring your own, as I have seen none in place on the route.

Be forewarned: this ridge is exposed and remote. If you get caught here, you may have to downclimb. Those pondering a downclimb of this ridge after ascent of another should familiarize themselves with the cruxes. In my opinion, the route-finding is not taxing.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.


Taking a breather.This photo shows me on the...Granite formationAscending the upper Kelso...KelsoKnife EdgeGrays, Torreys & Kelso Ridge
Looking northish down the...On Kelso RidgeMe about 3/4 of the way up...Monika At The TopMini Knife EdgeThis photo shows me at the...Magnificent Torreys Peak.
[ View Gallery - 82 More Images ]