Routes: The Stevens Gulch Traverse

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From right to left: Kelso Mt., Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Edwards, and a few other bumps along the way.

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The Front Range 14ers Grays and Torreys make an excellent beginner 14er hike – it was one of the first 14ers I ever did. Being so close to the Front Range Urban Corridor – less than an hour from Denver, it still affords some dramatic changes in environment, not the least because of the sweeping ridgeline going West to East to Northeast from Grays Peak, and ending essentially at I-70. When hiking up (or driving, I guess) up the beginning of Stevens Gulch, you can’t but feel that the world is closing in on you, and you’re now entering a different place altogether.

You may also, like me, have the urge to be on top of this ridge line. Not many obvious entrance points present themselves from the start of the Summer trail head to Grays Peak, to the summit of Grays Peak itself. The ridge is rocky and broken, with much rockfall danger. You could, and people have, find a weakness in the ridge to climb up, but I don’t suggest it. In this route, I outline what is sure to be a classic traverse over the entire Steven’s Gulch; bagging you two 14ers, a Class 3 ridge scramble, and at least 2 13ers – one of which (Mt. Edwards) is a Centennial. If that’s not enough, you’ll also go over a mountain that used to be labeled a 14er, McClellan Mountain – actually height: 13,587′ which faked out turn-of-the-century tourists!; as well as many smaller 12ers, in your hike to close out the loop.

Some stats of the route as I describe it:

  • 14.5 miles
  • 7,000 feet elevation gain/loss
  • mostly off-trail, w/Class 3 scrambling
  • no easy bailout point after Grays Peak
  • crampons/ice axe recommended until late in the summer season

This route is not to be underestimated, and it’s a requirement to get an alpine start, and not be afraid to bail, if weather comes in. Be strong in your logistics game.

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Mountain Playgrounds


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Mt Evans

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Route + Elevation Profile (clockwise) – View on Strava

The idea was certainly simple enough:

The road that travels up to the summit of Colorado Springs’ resident 14er, Pikes Peak (neé heey-otoyoo @ 14,115 feet would be open to bicycle travel for the first time for an extended period: the entire month of September on an exploratory basis. In the recent past, the road has only been open for one day, for a bicycle race up to the top.

This road needed to be ridden to, from Denver and summited, before the end of September came; before the road was again closed to such noble of transportation options.

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Grays/Torreys/Headache

All my bike rides end up on mountain tops

On top of Grays Peak. 

 

This weeks plan was to ride to the Summer Trailhead of Grays/Torreys, hike up both, and ride back, all in one fell swoop. I mean, why not? It’s ~55 miles and 9,000 feet of elevation to the Winter Trailhead, 3 miles of hike-a-biking on the dirt road to the Summer Trailhead and 8 1/4 miles of hiking to both peaks and back – and then that 55 miles back home.

OK, fairly ambitious, I admit – I brought along my sleep kit, just in case.

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