Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Torrey's Peak: Kelso ridge route

My college friend Chris Alonso called me a few days ago, said he is in town for a few days and invited me to climb the Kelso ridge on Torrey's Peak (14,236 ft) today. Kelso is the northeast ridge and it's a class 3 scramble. Chris' friend and climbing buddy, whose name is also Brad, joined us and we hit the road at 4:45 am this morning. On the dirt road approaching the trailhead, we encountered a Chevy Suburan with Texas plates, stopped in the road, its occupants out scratching their heads. "End of the road," they said to us when we rolled down our window, and pointed ahead to a washed out, rutted section of the road. "It's not that bad," Chris said, as he drove forward in his Subaru. Though it took some manuvering, we got past the ruts and up to the trailhead.

This is the first class 3 summit climb I've done, and it was fun. We got off route at one point and chose steep but short class 4 way to get back on track. That got the adrenaline going a bit. The crux of the route is just a few hundred feet below the summit, a knife edge with a fair amount of exposure on either side. Not enough exposure that a slip would mean certain death, but enough to get the adrenaline going again. We reached the summit in less than 3 hours. Not bad.

For the descent, I jogged down the standard route to get some downhill training in. We didn't see the Chevy Suburban in the trailhead lot, so I suspect they never made it. Too bad!

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