Sarah walked into my office, pulled up a chair, and leaning back, casually asked, "Feel like doing a 14er this weekend?" Obviously the blank expression on my face signalled that I had no idea what she was talking about. "A mountain! Colorado has fifty-four peaks over 14,000 feet. Let's get up early Saturday morning and climb one of them." Sounding like a healthy, active way to spend the weekend, I told her to count me in. "Great, pick me up at 6am on Saturday, the peaks are about an hour and a half drive from Denver."
“Yes, we’ll climb Grays and Torreys, they’re right next to one another, we just cross a saddle from one peak to the other.”
In that moment, a healthy, active sounding weekend suddenly became a lot more active than healthy.
GRAYS + TORREYS PEAKS - THE BREAKDOWN
TRAILHEAD ELEVATION 11,280 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION Grays, 14,270 feet; Torreys, 14,267 feet HIKING DISTANCE 8.25 miles round-trip TIME 4 hours up; 2 hours down DRIVE TIME FROM DENVER 1 hour and 15 minutes
It turns out Greys and Torreys are popular with beginners because the terrain is fairly moderate and both peaks can be summited in a single day-trip.
The hike started with Sarah admitting she'd had a big night out the previous evening and was feeling somewhat worse for wear, which explained the knee high sweat pants and five finger shoes. Although, she insisted that five fingers are the best shoes for tackling fourteeners.
Setting off from the car park, we crossed the large bridge that spans Stevens Gulch, following the well-defined trail that gradually dissolves into gravel, and as we climb higher, snow covered rocks and boulders.
Catching our breath, about halfway up, one would never have imagined she'd had a big night out. And the shoes seemed to be working fine, even in the snow!
As we got higher, I began to feel the effects of the altitude; short of breath, we trudged on through the snow, about 10 feet at a time.
Having made it to the summit of Grays, we took in the view, the mighty Rockies stretching as far as the eye can see. It felt like we were on top of the earth; like I could just about reach out and touch an airplane passing overhead.
Observing tradition, we crack open a beer to celebrate.
Looking across the saddle toward Torreys, it doesn’t appear that far away—but we knew we'd be trudging up another few hundred feet before cracking open our next beer.
The reward for reaching the summit of one of these 14ers? Some of the most breathtaking views you'll find anywhere on the planet.