I’ve been wanting to do this one for a couple years now but haven’t quite gotten around to it. This past week I’d done a couple more extreme trail runs. I did a 17.5 mile up Keystone Gulch to the Colorado Trail to the Aquaduct Trail for Breckenridge and back. I was lost.
I also did a double on Mount Royal overlooking Frisco Colorado. I was pretty wasted so I was looking for something that my friend, climbing partner, and Team Seven Summits Quest mate Todd Gilles and I could do together that was also extreme, but would allow us to go a bit slower than we have been in our training for Elbrus Race 2013.
We met in Keystone at about 6:50 and drove together in my higher clearance vehicle to the Grays Peak Trailhead up Stevens Gulch. The Grizzly Gulch Fork parking was completely overparked and as we went up the road through the private land area we ran into a long line of bumper to bumper cars parked along the side. We stopped to ask and no one knew for sure if there were spaces up at the trailhead. I decided to risk it, thinking there would be parking along the road to the mining area where I’d camped several years before.
Sure enough, there was parking for us and we took off up the trail. It was pretty obvious that many of these hundreds of people don’t get out much. They weren’t at all experienced with faster “hikers” on the same trail. We made it to the fork to Kelso Ridge in pretty good time in spite of that. We took off up the ridge and for the most part it was loose gravel and dirt with a few steep gullies of third class rock, with maybe one or two fifth class moves. I think if you were cautious you could find a way to make it easier.
We didn’t really push for speed and stayed behind a few people that we used as routefinders for a while until they stopped for lunch. Then we came to the Knife-edge. This was classic. It’s a steep point about 50′ long along the ridge top. The slabs drop a few hundred feet both directions and most people I have heard slide along on their crotch. Some more brave people just walk on it. I was not brave that day. Todd was a bit faster than me. I think his Merrel minimum trail runners had better stick than my Salomon XA-Pro. They felt like they were sliding off every little foothold.
The last bit was a scree slog sometimes on hands and knees. At the top we hung out and ate and drank and did pics and videos. On the way down we saw hundreds of people along the trail. Most coming up quite late, but some going down. We got behind some really slow people, even for the slow pace we were going at, so at a switchback with a fork I managed to run around everyone and we started booking it down the trail.
We passed everyone. Not a single other person, even those dressed as trail runners, passed us. I think it took only a little over an hour to descend back to the car. I know I had a lot of fun sliding and jumping and even falling once to avoid running into a dog in the middle of the trail that didn’t notice me approaching.
Torreys via Kelso Ridge – Strava Stats
When I uploaded my stats Strava associated our stats together, Todd’s and mine. Oddly we were 20 minutes apart though we hit the summit within a minute of each other. I think it was because whoever created the segment pinned the summit in a different spot. I just sat down at the cairn and Todd wandered around, so likely he passed through the pinned segment end before I did. In any case here are the Strava stats [CLICK HERE]
Torreys via Kelso Ridge Map
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