INTRODUCING. . .THE CLIMBERS
Lois and Tracy.
Grays Peak: 14,270'
Date Climbed: 8/05/01
Route: Stevens Gulch/Grays Peak Trail
Estimated Miles: 8
Elevation Gain: 3,070'
My Rating: Very Easy!
Grays Peak is notably the highest peak situated on the continental divide. Ironically, it may be the highest in that category, but it is also one of the easiest of all 52 of Colorados 14 'ers to climb. The towering peak was named after an acclaimed botanist named Asa Gray. The peak was not actually named by Asa but by one of his colleagues, a young climber by the name of Charles Parry, who made the first known ascent of the peak in 1861. In 1865, a prospector named Richard Irwin constructed a horse trail leading up to the peak. Grays soon thereafter began to gain popularity amongst tourists but not until the 1870's and 1880s. They would flock from all corners of the country to climb the great peak. It wasnt until July of 1870 that Asa Gray made his first ascent. Climbing the mountain on my own left me feeling elated. A sense of accomplishment was certainly there as I made my final steps to the summit. I can only imagine the satisfaction that Asa felt as he summited the peak, which bears his namesake.
For the easiest access to the summit, begin your climb at the Stevens Gulch Trailhead at approximately 11,200'. Cross the west side of the creek by footbridge and continue to follow the Grays Peak Trail for approximately 4 miles until you reach the summit. The northern slope is steep but still is a relatively easy climb. Once you reach the summit, enjoys the panoramic views of both sides of the continental divide. Be prepared for company. Since this is probably the easiest of the 14'ers, it also attracts the most people. Finding a quiet spot to reflect on the summit is a feat in itself.
It took approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach the summit. Coming down, proved to be quite an adventure and I can't even tell how long it took me to get off the peak. The descent is as slick as the others are, but what made my descent the most interesting, was the lightning. You could see the clouds roll in and they came swift and abrupt. I know that I am no match for Mother Nature so when she roared, I ran! A note to the naive . . .when you see dark clouds, lightning and hear thunder go boom boom, don't just stand there like oaf, head down the mountain, get out of the exposed area and if you are slllllooooooooooowwwwwwww, make way for the faster climbers to pass. You may enjoy being a sitting duck, but don't screw with the fate of others. Yes, the people annoyed the shit out of me on this climb. Not so much on the ascent but the descent. I have this deep seeded need to climb and I realize that I potentially risk my life with each step. I do, however, take precautions. Among those precautions, is avoiding lightning at all costs. Some individuals do not realize how much at risk they actually are at getting struck by a wayward bolt of electricity whilst they are meandering around in an exposed area above tree line. Luckily I hooked up with some swift-footed climbers and we hurtled down in a small group, making it much easier to pass the sloooooooowwwwww pokes. God that was annoying!!!!!
At any rate, I chose to describe this climb as an opportunity to see some spectacular views, as a test of endurance to see if climbing 14'ers is your forte, an opportunity to possibly see some awesome mountain goats, an opportunity to get a great workout and yes, a chance to make some friends along the way. I do gripe and complain about the over abundance of people on this peak but I have to admit, the individuals that I met on this climb were awesome. They were insightful, helpful, funny, friendly and most of all; they shared my passion to climb. It is great to be around like-minded individuals who understand that thing that draws us to the great summits. Sometimes its something that you really cant put into words but more often than not, it's not necessary. It's just understood.