Kelso Ridge in February

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 39.64280°N / 105.8208°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 15, 2004
As members of the Advanced Mountaineering School of the Colorado Mountain Club, we are required to plan and execute the winter climb of a Colorado high peak. I and five others decided to attempt the Kelso Ridge route on Torrey's Peak. We planned to drive up on Saturday morning, and hike in and setup camp in the afternoon. Sunday would be our summit day, and we would break camp and hike out Monday morning.

We arrived at Bakerville in the late morning and hiked the 2.8 miles to the summer parking area by early afteroon. We setup three tents, enjoyed some dinner and conversation and went to bed early.

We woke up late at about 4:15 (my tentmate's alarm reset in the night, probably from the cold). We were leaving camp by 6:15 and it took us about two hours to get to the saddle between Torrey's and Kelso Mountain. We soon made our first tracks on the ridge but high winds and cold forced us back to shelter to add more layers. About 9 am or so we pushed back out of the shelter and made our way to the first crux.

The first difficult section was loaded with snow and the rock was somewhat iced. After exploring many possibilities, we decided to descend off the ridge to the north side. We spent several hours scrambling on powder covered scree before we finally regained the ridge.

We stuck fairly close to the ridgline from the junction of Kelso ridge with another unnamed ridge stretching north on up. We fixed a line across the right side of the crux, making for a short ridgewalk, followed by a short downclimb and a snowy traverse.

We reached the summit shortly after 4pm and fairly quickly made our way towards Gray's Peak and the Gray's Peak Trail. We descended into the saddle, and traversed a very spooky snowfield to get onto the trail. From there we were able to follow the trail all the way back to camp, which we reached shortly after 7pm.

We all slept pretty well that night. In the morning we casually broke camp, hiked out, and were at Tommyknocker's by lunchtime.

Kelso ridge in winter conditions is a serious mountaineering endeavour the likes of which I had never attempted before. It pushed my comfort level to its limit but provided unique rewards (and views!) beyond description.


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