Summit two 14,000-foot peaks in one big hike.


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The Rocky Mountains of Colorado are renowned for their concentration of 14,000-foot peaks.

Conquering “The 14ers” is a top objective of many native Coloradans and visitors as well.

Of the 53 peaks in the state that exceed 14,000 feet, Grays and Torreys are two of the most accessible.

These are two separate peaks with a ridgeline dipping between them, often summitted together because of their proximity.

They are considered introductory 14ers, and may become the first two of a long tick list for those who find themselves addicted to altitude.

You can choose to do one or the other, or both, based on how big of a hike you want.

Grays alone as an out-and-back is highly recommended for a first-time 14er hike. Even though Grays and Torreys are simple as far as 14ers go, these peaks should not be taken lightly.

The hiking is strenuous, the setting remote, and weather in the mountains is volatile.

The typical season for hiking is during the summer, when the air is warm and most of the snow has melted.

But July to August is Colorado’s monsoon season, when violent thunderstorms pop up in the afternoon.

Anywhere on these bare peaks is dangerously exposed to wind and lightning.

Ideally, you should time your hike to summit and be back down to the cars by noon for safety.

This may mean starting before dawn.

Luckily, the trailhead for Grays and Torreys is a relatively short drive from Denver, so camping in the mountains the night before is an option but not required.

You can leave very early from the city and start hiking by headlamp. The trail is well defined and easy to follow for some distance, winding through green meadows flecked with summer wildflowers.

It climbs steadily uphill and into a wide valley rimmed by steep slopes.

The objective summits are hidden behind a ridge at first, but eventually, you’ll round a turn where Grays Peak comes into full view.

It is here that the alpine section of the route becomes apparent.

Follow the trail as it becomes progressively fainter in slopes of dirt and talus.

The path is discernible the whole way, but not always obvious, especially if there’s snow on the ground or fog in the air.

Snow can linger throughout June and into July, so be prepared for variable surfaces. Continue upward on progressively steeper and rockier terrain.

Take in the views but also watch the ground to keep your footing.

Remember to drink plenty of water and eat snacks, in order to keep your stamina here at high altitude.

When you reach the top, rest, and enjoy the expansive panorama.

Weigh your time and energy, and watch the weather, to decide if you should continue to Torreys. The traverse to Torreys is straightforward, following the ridgeline, but it dips more than 300 feet down and back up, across uneven terrain.

The reward of a second 14,000 foot summit is well worth the extra effort, though, if you can do it safely.

To descend from Torreys, backtrack along the saddle to where a side trail descends to Stevens Gulch.

It rejoins the route you originally took up Grays, which you’ll then follow back down to the parking area. Sources: