Maybe the last 14er of 2017? I guess we’ll see, but it’s gonna be ski season any time now. Either way, pounding out some extra vertical won’t hurt when it comes time to dust off the climbing skins! Crawling out of our sleeping bags at the base at 7:30 in the morning to find ourselves shivering in 22 degrees certainly drove home the imminence of winter!
We chose a doubleheader for our first 14ers of the year and it did not disappoint! The hike itself is pretty straightforward: am obvious trail departs from the road and leads you via the path of least resistance up Grays and then Torreys. An optional knife-edge trail descends from the summit of Torreys, which we omitted, but could be used as a nice way to vary the scenery on the return trip. It doesn’t really change the mileage but ads some exposure. Both summits offer glorious views of the Summit County mountains. But the factor that really takes the cake for me is the stunning alpine valley from whence you begin. The best way (IMHO) to tick off these peaks is to drive up Stevens Gulch Road the day before until you get to the end or until you’d rather not punish your vehicle any further. The road peters out nearby an extensive alpine meadow sprinkled with mining remains and ample opportunities for car camping. Get an early start, find a nice camp spot and take in some world-class views while you acclimate. Waking up at the trailhead really takes the edge off of a 14er and the ambiance is second to none!
As a long overdue follow-on to last year’s post Long Day on Long’s Peak (anyone else enjoy that play on words?), I present Long’s Peak: Keyhole Route. I’m continuing with a couple themes that I’ve latched onto recently.
With Fall rapidly approaching, I felt that 14er season, especially for novices like me, would be quickly coming to a close. Emboldened by my recent success on Capital Peak, I decided to go after Long’s Peak. When the leaves are down, I can just about see it out my office window. A quick drive around the block reveals the towering peak, in all of it’s glory. It’s been taunting me since we moved into the house last November. I could no longer just ignore it. So, I checked the weather about a thousand times, squared away my affairs with work for the week, packed a huge heap of clothing, food, and water, and set my alarm for 2:45 AM. Two hours and 15 minutes later (I really need to work on my alpine starts) I was on the trail and ready to rock.