REI Community
Torrey's Peak
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Dead Dog Couloir 
Kelso Ridge T 
North Face Ski Descent 
South Paw Couloir 

Kelso Ridge 

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 2000', Grade II
Original:  [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 10,914
Submitted By: ClimbandMine on Jun 4, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (114)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Pano of the ridge.


Kelso Ridge is one of my favorite alpine routes. Approach via the Stevens Gulch trail, and split off north just after climbing up to the upper basin below Torreys Peak. Hike directly to the saddle between Torreys and Kelso Mountain to gain the ridge at a small adit (mine).

Climb directly up the ridge, following a trail winding around spires. Occasional 4th class sections provide the challenge. The final crux lies about 200' below the summit, and consists of a slabby traverse on slick rock. Srcamble the final stretch past the topout of Dead Dog Couloir to the summit. Descend to the Grays-Torreys saddle and pick up the trail back to your car.

For a true alpine feel, try it in winter or spring conditions.


Some nuts might work in places. The rock is pretty crumbly so passive pro is best.

Photos of Kelso Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: Cruiser!
Rock Climbing Photo: View of the summit. A beautiful winter peak - 21 J...
View of the summit. A beautiful winter peak - 21 J...
Rock Climbing Photo: 9mile track, starting 2 miles down the road from t...
BETA PHOTO: 9mile track, starting 2 miles down the road from t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Taken on the Gray's-Torrey's saddle on the way dow...
Taken on the Gray's-Torrey's saddle on the way dow...
Rock Climbing Photo: Another view of the ridge.
Another view of the ridge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Final buttress.
BETA PHOTO: Final buttress.
Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Hahn crossing the knife edge above Dead Dog C...
Andy Hahn crossing the knife edge above Dead Dog C...
Rock Climbing Photo: J.P. on the knife-edge (crux ?) of the Kelso Ridge...
J.P. on the knife-edge (crux ?) of the Kelso Ridge...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at Leah and Peter from just below the...
Looking down at Leah and Peter from just below the...
Rock Climbing Photo: dustin on the kelso ridge
dustin on the kelso ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: Near the crux, July 2002.  (Photo by James Burns)
Near the crux, July 2002. (Photo by James Burns)
Rock Climbing Photo: Just below the supposed crux (The real crux is the...
Just below the supposed crux (The real crux is the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kelso Ridge on 11/24/07.
BETA PHOTO: Kelso Ridge on 11/24/07.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ashley Gann on Kelso Ridge.
Ashley Gann on Kelso Ridge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sally on one of the few ledge-style harder section...
Sally on one of the few ledge-style harder section...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me hanging onto a short spire for dear life. Not n...
Me hanging onto a short spire for dear life. Not n...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the "chimney" section that CAN g...
This is the "chimney" section that CAN g...
Rock Climbing Photo: Torrey's to Gray's.
Torrey's to Gray's.
Rock Climbing Photo: Nate nearing the summit of Torrey's via Kelso Ridg...
Nate nearing the summit of Torrey's via Kelso Ridg...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cory walking across Kelso after climbing Ded Dog C...
Cory walking across Kelso after climbing Ded Dog C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Good view of the entire route
Good view of the entire route
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking back at the beginning of the knife edge - ...
Looking back at the beginning of the knife edge - ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kelso Ridge on 11/24/07.
BETA PHOTO: Kelso Ridge on 11/24/07.

Show All 28 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Kelso Ridge Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 23, 2017
By Anonymous Coward
Jun 6, 2002

I'm using the AC so as not to "spray." Two summers ago I did this route, and then went over and bagged Gray's, car-to-car in under 3:30 - including 15 minutes of photo ops at the summit. The bar is set =) ...oh, and if conditions are decent, a rope on this route would be overkill.
By Warren Teissier
Jun 7, 2002

Seems to me like you're spraying none the less.

Looks like the AC choice is more to shelter you from the flames occasioned by the spraying.

But I could be wrong...

By Kreighton Bieger
Jun 7, 2002

I'm with Warren here, AC. Sounds like a duck, looks like a duck... I don't know if 3:30 is a fast time or not, having not done this linkup of which you speak, but there are a lot of fast folks in the area who willingly own up to their deeds. The fact that you chose to remain anonymous undermines your claim. Unless of course, you're Bill and just forgot to sign your name.
By Scott Conner
From: Lyons, CO
Jun 24, 2002

This is a fun little adventure. There is quite a bit of loose rock/scree on this climb. If the route becomes less straight-forward, stay high. It's easy to be led south (left) of the ridge and off route. This is a great alternative to the standard route, which had about 200 people on it Sunday. We saw 5 others on the ridge. car-car: 6hrs.
By Bill Wright
Jun 25, 2002

I love hearing fast times. Maybe it is spraying, but I don't mind it at all. I like to see people jazzed about what they have done. What's wrong with that? If it is a fast time, then I'm inspired. I think it depends on how you spray. Just saying your time is nothing to be worried about. If someone thinks that's spraying, to heck with them. Who cares what they think.

So, for fast times on Kelso Ridge. On 8/10/2000, Mark Oveson did this ridge onsight to the summit of Torreys in 1h25m. Then he bagged Grays in 25 more minutes. He descended from the summit in a remarkable 30 minutes and that included a time-out to face plant on the trail. His bridge-to-bridge time for the outing was 2h20m!
By Hill
Jun 26, 2002

I did that Kelso ridge route up Torrey's and over to Gray's route a couple years back in about 4 hours and some change. I was by myself so I didn't stop much or smell the roses and just kind of did it. Its pretty quick moving and the slowest part is all the switchbacks coming down from Gray's. 3:30 is pretty impressive in my book. Hats off.

By Josh Janes
General Admin
Jun 30, 2002

I'll fess up - it was me...
By Warren Teissier
Jul 1, 2002

Why am I not surprised Josh?

Sorry bud, I don't think beating me would help you make a name for yourself, try beating Oveson's time for starters and then you can try Bill, Buzz and company...

Signing your name to your posts does not constitute a challenge to the World... Or maybe it does? It is just simple courtesy.

By ClimbandMine
Jul 9, 2002

Since we're on the topic ... I may have to head up for a shot at a sub 2:30 time. was around 3:00 last fall, getting a workout and shooting sunrise photos before grad classes. Anyone want to join me?

The most dangerous moments I've had in the hills are, yes, on approaches and descents, or when other morons aren't paying attention and are knocking loose crap down on me.
By shad O'Neel
Jul 23, 2002

What fun! [It's] too bad that the skinny section [doesn't] go on for miles. We lolligagged our way along and were surprised to find ourselves back at the car in 4 hours.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 7, 2003

A "me too" post to agree with the loose rock. A party above us sent down a barrage of basketball size rocks in the gully sections halfway up, and we were lucky to get away with minor lacerations. The solid 4th class crux at the top is a relief because it's solid. A great scramble, but one to do early.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 13, 2003

I can't help but think that someday they're gonna be scraping you speed racers off the rocks because you got stupid trying to beat a time.first rule of mountaineering: gravity is the ultimate ruler of the mountains. Respect it, respect the mountains, or eventually karma is going to kick your ass. I lost a good friend last year with the same attitude as I see here.
By Stefan Griebel
From: Boulder, Colorado
Aug 14, 2003

Second Rule of Mountaineering: Weather is second only to gravity as ultimate ruler of the mountains. There can be safety in speed.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 18, 2003

Oh, absolutely. However, judicious speed to get off the hill before weather comes in is different than racing against a time so you can run back to town and talk about what hot shit you are.

Just got back from doing this route a second time. It was as much of a pleasure as it was the first. A great way to avoid the crowds if you've got the chops to tacke it
By Bill Wright
Aug 18, 2003

"racing against a time so you can run back to town and talk about what hot shit you are. "

I'm always disappointed to read such comments. Apparently the poster is a bit embarrassed to even write it, hence the A.C. moniker. Unfortunately there are many people like this. They are actually offended that some people go fast and take some pride in going fast. I've wondered why this is and I think, for some, it is because they somehow feel less of a climber when someone speeds by them. This is silly. It's just different.

There are many reasons to go fast in the mountains and, as discussed above, safety is one reason. Of course, if you're not fit from training to go fast, you won't be able to go fast when you NEED to go fast. And people aren't necessarily talking about how "hot shit" they are. I might be proud of my meager times, but they are only good times for me. I wouldn't portray myself as hot shit when I know countless multitudes are faster. I suspect anyone posting a time on this site has a similar attitude. I find it inspiring to hear about people pushing their limits. If their time is within my narrow range, I might try a little friendly competition. This shouldn't offend anyone but the insecure.

One poster wondered if a speed climber will meet their demise by going for speed. If so, that would be unfortunate, but it isn't like we don't realize that's a possibility. What about a regular climbing meeting his demise? They are really the same situation. Both activities are dangerous with serious consequences. Both activists could lead safer lives, but choose not to. You know why? Because climbing is fun. And here's the real kicker, the real point that this poster is completely missing. The biggest reason to climb fast is because it is FUN!

Here's a report on such

By Anonymous Coward
Aug 21, 2003

I'm the AC who posted above. Since apparently opinions from those who haven't joined your little club are somehow invalid, I'm Aaron Field, and I stand by my statements fully.

Now... my comments weren't, as you seem to infer, born from insecurity. My times are usually quick, and I'm rarely beaten to a summit. Even if I were, that fact would hardly bother me, as I don't give a good goddamn who passes me or who gets what time. Attributing that weakness to me- with very little evidence of my true feelings on the matter- is shitty argument style. I would submit that you're projecting your own insecurities onto me. I do not loaf or slack behind- but I also don't treat the high mountains like some sort of racetrack proving ground, a venue to compete like a child against others. Speed has its place, no doubt- but not as a tool to pump up your fragile ego, racing up a treacherous mountain ridge like Kelso so you can beat some faceless internet sprayer.

I've been taught the lesson, over and over again, that to treat the mountains as tools to prove your badasshood or as playgrounds is to court disaster. Just because it's an hour from Denver doesn't mean that it shouldn't be treated with the same respect as Makalu or Denali. A friend of my family died on Little Bear three weeks ago, and as tragic as his death is, I cannot help but notice that the reason he died was not because of chance or fate but because he got cocky, pressing on to the summit, into a rainstorm. He fell 500 feet and died.

When I climbed Kelso the last time, a young Army guy ran out onto the left side of the knife ridge, and my friend and I had to rap down and pull him off because he lost his shit. He had gone out onto the ledge, not knowing a damn thing about rock climbing, because he was posturing for his girl. Had we not been there, with a rope, he probably would have done something stupid and dropped into Dead Dog couloir.Same syndrome- "I wanna be a badass! Oops...!"

I don't say this to insult anyone. But I do want to impress upon anyone who'll listen that trying to posture and feed your manly-man ego is bad fucking karma.
By Stefan Griebel
From: Boulder, Colorado
Aug 21, 2003

Man, Bill, is this a troll or what?! Well, Aaron:

1. You're family friend on Little Bear violated the 2nd rule of mountaineering.

2. He then succumbed to the 1st rule of mountaineering.

3. If only he had climbed a bit faster!

There is no disrespect in speed. In fact, most speed climbers I know of are much more aware of their surroundings, and thus that much more respectful of the consequences of rules 1 and 2.

By Anonymous Coward
Aug 22, 2003

Any time you make an unsolicited statement about your performance, you are BRAGGING. That's what all this is about, and nothing else. If you brag in good style, without demeaning others, it is accepted in a good spirit. We are all proud of our acheivements and need to share them with others to be validated. That's all part of being human. It's just the way we are built. So, I say report on your solos, your speed ascents, and your ratings conquests. But just remember not to rub it in too much and people will respect that.
By Kreighton Bieger
Aug 22, 2003

AC, (or is it AF now), I am a little confused by your [aggression] towards those who might be considered 'speed climbers' or rather, climbers who focus on how long it takes to climb things. It occurs to me, from all your ranting about "manly-man egos" and "bragging", that you're working from the assumption that those who climb and time the effort do so only for the sake of their egos or insecurities. On this point you are sadly and ridiculously mistaken.

People who do these things, believe it or not, actually enjoy it. They enjoy the experience of climbing, running, moving quickly. It aids in planning for future efforts (and hence the reason to share times, duh). Moving quickly and efficiently is considered by some a form of flowing meditation, how aggro ,eh? And whether the end result is getting home safely or being able to get home in time to catch the game, spend time with the kids, get to work or just sleep in a bed, it remains that none of the reasons above involve ego boosting of any sort.

Stefan, Bill, Tony and Darin have all spoken eloquently enough on this topic that this point should have long since been driven home in your head. Alas, it has not been and I admit that this post of mine arose more out of frustration with that than any shortcomings in their explanations.

This post took me 3:22, fwiw.
By Bill Wright
Aug 22, 2003

Hi Aaron,

It seems like I've really infuriated you. That wasn't my intention at all. I was just speculating about a POSSIBLE reason for your distaste for people who like to go fast and, presumably, then post about it. If this isn't your reason, then maybe you can enlighten me. Why does this upset you? Because we shouldn't treat the mountains like a race track? Why not? Because it is dangerou? So what? It's all dangerous, is it not? We all draw the line for ourselves. Wouldn't a slower climber think your dangerous because of your speed? Heck, you're rarely beaten to a summit.

I'm still a bit baffled by why you seem so angry about this. Maybe it was the tragic loss of your friend. That hurts so badly. That's a good enough reason for anything you write here after such a brief period after the accident. I am deeply sorry over your loss. That he was trying to race a storm certainly makes me think twice about what I do. In fact, I think about it quite often. Is it worth the risk? Am I going over the line? I'm out to test myself and to have FUN. I don't solo anything above 5.6 because I think that's too dangerous for me to have FUN doing. I don't simul-climb above 5.9. Some are comfortable soloing and simul-climbing 5.11 or more. That is perhaps their limit for FUN. I might still be safe a number grade higher, but it wouldn't be as fun. It would be more stressful. I don't want that.

Am I bragging and spraying when I post this stuff. Sure. But, come on, this is Boulder. I'm not jack in Boulder. I climb 3 number grades below the top Boulder climbers, and I'm pitifully slow compared to the fastest climbers. I am excited about what I can do, but only because it is fast FOR ME.

You write a number of inflammatory comments, but I don't think I'll address those. I suspect you'd agree they were unnecessary and I'll attribute it to your loss. If you ever want to get together for a casual scramble, let me know and we'll chat about this on a Flatiron or something.

By Joseph Proulx
Dec 11, 2003

Calling this route 4th class is a disservice to people who don't do much or any technical climbing, but like a good scramble. The only part which may be 4th class -- the little arete just below the knife edge -- is short, solid, and avoidable (albeit, as I recall, by traversing a rotten gully to the right -- hey, that's Colorado). This is a great route with nice position, easy trail access, and low commitment factor.

I thought the crux was getting my Ford Tempo up the road.
By Shane Zentner
From: Colorado
Feb 5, 2004

I climbed Kelso Ridge January 2001 and froze my 'huevos' off! Good fun, though. Didn't even need an ice ax until I was over the top and heading down the saddle. Get on it and get funky!
By Shane Zentner
From: Colorado
Feb 5, 2004

These discussions are interesting. Here is my time for summiting both mountains: Car to car in 20 minutes and 15 seconds! Then, I humped my girlfriends leg!
By William McGehee
From: Choctaw, OK
Jul 18, 2005

Having done this route yesterday and now looking at the pictures, I am wondering "Where the hell was I," or "Where the hell were all of you?" I climbed up the ridgeline from the adit to the summit of Torrey's. Never HAD to climb a knife-edge or any significant sections of rock. There is always a trail that goes around most of the rock. I scrambled up a chimney or ledge-system or two on the route, but nothing was terribly difficult (though the exposure may have been exciting). In short, the way I went was not terribly challenging at all, mostly second class, two sections of 4th class, MAYBE 5th class (for two moves) scrambling, and those were by choice. Put all the 4th and 5th in a straight line and you have 30' overall... Maybe I was just lost, but it got Sally and I to the top of Torrey's. Linked up to Grey's, and back to the car in a lightning-fast 7.5 hrs. Sally and I will ship your *ss Josh! ;-)~Wm
By J. Fox
From: Black Hawk, CO
Mar 23, 2009

Soloed it in winter. Class 3 at most. I never even broke out the crampons.
By Buff Johnson
Oct 18, 2009

We were on Shane's pace one day; but someone ran a full bbq spread complete with pony keg up from the even-easier side. We weren't about to turn down a few burgers and a keg stand or three.
By george wilkey
From: travelers rest sc
Nov 14, 2013

I climbed this early in the season. The so called "knife edge" was heavily corniced, and I walked right over it without even realizing that's what it was. It just looked like a trail in the snow.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Aug 11, 2014

The pictures here are well-done enough so as to mislead the viewer into thinking the ridge is more technical than it is. All in all much less interesting than anticipated, but yet the perception of the route seems to keep the crowds away. We did not pass nor were we passed by anyone on the route, despite the virual caterpillar of folks on the other routes up Grey's/Torrey's.
By monkeyvanya
From: Denver, CO
Jul 26, 2015

The dirt road up Steven's Gulch looked a bit rough for a 2wd (esp bad ~1 mile in). I decided to leave my Sprinter at a parking lot next to the forest service road ~0.5 miles in. A few people turned around higher. I saw a few sedans make it all the way up though.

It was really crowded today (on Sunday). Despite leaving the trailhead at 630am, I passed 5-6 parties on the ridge proper. One was even carrying a rope on their pack.

The most obvious path follows a trail through lots of loose scree, dirt, and a few 3rd class ridge passes. Some of the unpleasant loose scree can be avoided by climbing 3rd-easy 5th class on the rock right next to the trail.

The views are spectacular the entire way.
By tkessel
From: Windsor,CO
Aug 23, 2017

What an awesome route! Great exposure without ever really getting that difficult. Always a way to make it easier if you feel uncomfortable.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About