Ascent of Grays Peak on 2002-06-02

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Sunday, June 2, 2002
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Grays Peak
    Elevation:14270 ft / 4349 m

Ascent Trip Report

I spent last night (and this morning) in the scenic town of Georgetown along Interstate-70, which put me close to the Grays Peak trailhead. Very early today, I drove a few miles to the Bakerville exit, then bumped up the dirt road to the parking lot at the trailhead. Even at this early hour, nearly all spots were taken. I was lucky to find a marginal spot where I shoe-horned my truck. I was hiking by 6:30 a.m.

After crossing a footbridge, I followed the trail as it contoured east and south of nearby Kelso Mountain, a 13,164-foot peak awash in green grass and wildflowers. The trail itself is well maintained and I was made good time. I hiked for awhile with an older gentleman who was taking it kind of slow, himself not certain he'd make the summit. We passed a few people and were passed ourselves.

The trail works through high meadows and rocky plains to about 12,500 feet, where it abuts the main mass of Grays and its sister summit, Torreys Peak. Parts of the trail were in shadow and in a few spots, covered in a ice. Needless to say, these parts were slick as ice. The guy and I took a break here. After a short rest, I got moving again, but the guy stayed behind. I never saw him again and I suspect he just hiked back out to his car.

From this point to the summit, the trail switchbacks up the bare north-facing slopes of Grays, making long sweeps back and forth, all the while above tree line. The views were marvelous and I had a great time. The fine trail also expedited my progress, and I summitted at 9:15 a.m. in clear, cool, brisk conditions. Given it was early June, there was very little snow. The summit itself was bare, and I only had a few patches coming up.

I spent more time than usual on the summit, enjoying the views and the people-watching. Yes, it got minorly crowded but I knew this would happen, and it was a cool bunch. A lot of people were resting on Grays before walking on over to Torreys. In the saddle below Grays and Torreys there were people glissading down the snow slope back to the basin and the trail we had all come up.

There were also runners, people running from one summit to the next, apparently fitted with a third lung somewhere inside their body. Me, I was just happy to walk at a good pace at 14K.

The hike down went well, and the hordes of day-hikers never abated. I passed group after group coming up, and when I got back to my truck, was amused to see another 60 vehicles parked everywhich-where, many illegally, a lot lining the access road. I changed back into my "driving clothes" (shorts, sandals, tee) and exited back onto Interstate-70. I was happy to have summitted Grays, but I also had a lot of driving to do, aiming to be in the middle of Utah by day's end.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3000 ft / 914 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:Grays Peak Trail
    Trailhead:11270 ft / 3435 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles

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