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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-03-19||Route: South Face
Info: With a lack of recent snowfall and warmer temperatures, the snow was bomber, even on the approach through cottonwood creek. The red gully was definitely more exciting in winter than in summer. There is a solid trench in place from cottonwood creek trailhead all the way to the top of this mountain.
|2016-02-20||Route: South Face
Info: Attempted red gully couloir from cottonwood creek trailhead. Started before midnight on Saturday and turned back at 10.8k (around 6 am). The trail was great the first 3 miles then all hell broke lose. The snow quality was terrible and we were postholing to our waist even with flotation. (Skins and snowshoes). We were able to gain elevation to 10k fairly quickly but progress slowed dramatically from that point on. Our biggest concern if we kept on pushing to summit was the snow conditions on the return as the weather was very warm. With new snowfall this week, this route may improve. Word of advice: bring man power and be ready to break trail for hours. Access to trailhead is simple and 2wd.
|2015-10-11||Route: Crestones Traverse
Info: Icy snow up broken hand pass, also snow at the bulge and the knife edge on the traverse (can be avoided but add +1 focus to the already high stakes traverse).
|2015-10-04||Route: South Face
Info: Hi! Climbing Crestone Peak was my 55th fourteener summit this summer! It was my last mountain to climb, and I did it! You can read more about this hike and others at sunshineof1985.com. At my blog site, I have very detailed directions on how you can most easily cross from the Humboldt side of the trail to the Crestone trail. My story was also covered on Channel 9 News and you can watch it at http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/features/2015/10/08/woman-climbs-55-fourteeners-to-help-overcome-eating-disorder/73628028/ Overall Distance for Day: 12.1 mi. Distance from Upper Parking Lot to Camp: 3.4 mi. Distance from Camp to Summit: 4.3 mi. Elevation Gain: 2,750 feet Time started: 8:35am End time (arrival back at camp): 3:35pm Time to Summit: 4 hours and 5 minutes Time to Descent (back to camp): 2 hours and 55 minutes (with break at summit) Time to Car: 1 hour and 30 minutes Overall Pace: 1.2 miles per hour GEAR (to bring for day): Bear spray, GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, warm hat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (100 oz or more), snacks. Road Condition: With a little guts, my sedan was able to make it all the way to the upper trailhead- barely. It‘s very bumpy and plenty of opportunities to bottom out unless you know what you‘re doing and have plenty of experience. Trail Condition: There was a little bit of ice around 13,300 feet, but I never slipped from it. Walk 2.65 miles up the road for the trail junction and head up the Humboldt trail as it is shorter and more direct. From the Humboldt side of the trail you‘ll need to cross at the start of the South Colony Lakes. Below with pictures I have a very detailed account on the easiest way to cross over. Broken Hand Pass is marked very well with large cairns to follow and has a decent dirt path. Once on the saddle, the trail continues over to the left and you‘ll see it carry on down a nice trail to Cottonwood Lake. Past the lake, you‘ll cut around to the right and come to an enclosed area. There you‘ll see the red gully right in front of you. There are cairns along the boulders that mark the trail great, and it will seem like it‘s leading you far to the right of it, but they are trustworthy cairns and bring you to an easier entrance on the gully. At the start of the gully, the rocks are smooth and there isn‘t much loose rock, but the higher you climb, the more loose it becomes. There will be cairns marking the easiest way to the top of the gully. Once at the notch, turn left and continue to follow the cairns to the top of the ridge. You‘ll need to cross over to another rock pile at the summit to reach the full summit which will be an only slight difference, but obvious (there is a capsule there).
|2015-09-19||Route: South Face
Info: Totally dry. On the way down, as soon as you exit the gully, just above 12700, turn left. We went straight and reached a pretty steep face that we did not ascend on the way up. We just had to turn left to regain the trail to the left (east), but just a heads up. I guess this is pretty common. Broken Hand Pass is a crumbly mess on the way down after the mostly solid rock on Crestone. When you get to the large pinnacles at the "crux" on the way down, go right. It‘s slippery but pretty simple.
|2015-09-12||Route: Northwest Couloir
Info: After climbing the standard route on Humboldt (dry in good shape), I followed the direct ridge to the Bears Playground. From there I took the traverse around to the NW Couloir on Crestone Peak. The lower section of the couloir is snow free as of 9/12/15 up through the first elbow. The upper Y of the couloir is still choked with snow and ice and made for tricky scrambling (no crampons/ice axe). I climbed the headwall to the climbers right to get around the rock hard snow/ice (low class 5) before scrambling back to the headwall that leads directly to the summit. Overall there is about 100-150ft of snow that needs to be bypassed, but it runs wall to wall right before the Y, so requires some tricky class 4 to low class 5 scrambling to get around. The Red Gully was completely clear of snow, easy travel. The traverse from Crestone Peak to Needle is all clear and well marked with cairns. The descent off Crestone Needle is also in good shape, just be careful with rockfall.
|2015-09-08||Route: South Face
Info: Bone dry on the whole route except for the stream in the Red Gully.
|2015-08-19||Route: Crestones Traverse
Info: Cold and windy this morning but otherwise all good.
|2015-08-19||Route: South Face
Info: Cold air blew in last night and turned a lot of what was water into ice. It‘s totally avoidable if you‘re ok with getting creative, but it makes things a little more treacherous. I can imagine someone climbing it in the dark thinking it‘s all just water and taking a horrible fall, so please be careful up there.
|2015-08-16||Route: South Face
Info: Went up the red gully. There is a decent amount of water through sections of the gully. You can go around the water by climbing on the sides which isn‘t that much harder. The rock can be slippery so stay safe and have fun
|2015-08-13||Route: South Face
Info: Roadwork today between the upper and lower THs on S. Colony Lakes Rd has removed a lot of the large boulders, but the road is in transition as they continue their work. Loose dirt could be a problem while they‘re grading, esp if it rains, but as of today it seemed passable for an average 4WD SUV. Driving a Ford Explorer, I had parked with several other low clearance SUVs about 1.4 miles up the road before the work started.
|2015-08-04||Route: South Face
Info: The peak is basically summer conditions now.. There is a snow field on Broken Hand Pass that you have to do some class 3 moves to avoid. Going up Red Gully if you stay to the left going up you can avoid water and snow. At one point you have to take two steps in snow to cross a snowfield but it‘s not bad. No equipment required
|2015-07-28||Route: South Face
Info: I set out this morning to do the Crestone Peak-Needle traverse combo. I was nervous about the Red Gully from the trip reports and planned on that being the hardest part (conditions wise). I was really surprised to find the Gully relatively easy to navigate. I didn‘t bring an ice ax/crampons so going straight up the snow pack towards the top wasn‘t an option for me. However, I went around it to the left with very little effort. Then I crossed back over at a spot that was 10ft wide. From there it was smooth sailing.
|2015-07-26||Route: South Face
Info: We did both peaks on Saturday (not a traverse). Here are some tips: Broken Hand Pass: There is a good moat on the right side of the snowfield. No equipment is required if you walk inside it. You can get into it by walking ten steps across the gradual snow at the base. Avoid the main snowfield unless you have the equipment and experience. Needle: No snow at all. Solid 3rd class if you can completely follow the route. It is easy to go too far on the gully traverse and get a bit of 4th class. Peak: The red gully has a bunch of snow in various areas. There is a river flowing down the center. The climb is solid class 3 scrambling because the trail is mostly hidden by either the snow or the river. The main snow field (see picture) can be entirely bypassed on climber‘s left. Keep ascending on easy 3rd class ledges until you are completely above it. A fall on the snow field could easily be fatal (like on Friday). There is some snow near the top of the gully that is much more difficult to go around. The most problematic one is immediately below the saddle of East Crestone and Crestone Peak. We used ice axes on the descent. If you slip, the fall would be about 15‘, likely a broken ankle in the worst case. Those upper snow patches should be gone in 2-3 weeks since they are not too deep and are melting fast. In the meantime it could get tougher as it becomes icier. There likely are class 3-4 bypass routes if you search for them.
|2015-07-25||Route: Crestones Traverse
Info: Broken Hand Pass is still holding a good amount of snow, but if you want you can cross it very early and scramble up the rock, more difficult but it depends if you‘d rather be on the snow. The Red Gully on Crestone Peak also has snow in it, 3-4 decent sized snow fields, it‘s almost inevitable that you‘ll go on the snow, it just depends on how much scrambling you‘re willing to do to minimize your time on the snow. We opted to go through the first snow field with spikes and axes, and crossed one other smaller one with just our axes. We bypassed the others on the rock. The snow still varies from fairly soft to very hard/icy. I think the climb could be done without an axe or spikes, but it‘ll make you a lot more comfortable and it‘s a lot safer with them, this is not the place you want to slip on the snow with nothing to arrest yourself. Keep in mind someone died falling on the 24th, and at least three others have needed rescues from Crestone Peak, take the mountain seriously it‘s not there to give you a second chance. The traverse to the Needle is almost completely clear, there‘s a very small snow crossing you could do, but it‘s well cairned to go around it. Descent from Needle is clear of snow but difficult if you‘re not familiar with the route. Descending Broken Hand Pass could be done without an axe or spikes but we opted for a short glissade down, but you‘ll certainly want an axe. Summary, equipment maybe not mandatory but definitely a good idea. Northwest Couloir is looking pretty sparse at the top, anyone considering that route is gonna deal with a steep climb on loose looking ground.
|2015-07-17||Route: Northwest Couloir
Info: Ascended the Northwest Couloir, descended the Red Gully. NW Couloir has lots of snow and some ice still. An ice and and crampons are a must. Red Gully has a lot of snow as well. Traction and an axe are still useful in the gully as well as there are several sections of harder, icy snow. As per the previous report, there is still a lot of snow on Broken Hand as well.
|2015-07-13||Route: South Face
Info: Custer County SAR condition report is right on. Lots of snow in the gully. We did the Traverse(snow free and dry) and felt that the most dangerous part was coming down the Red Gully and coming down Broken Hand. The snow in the gully is very soft to rock hard ice. We had micro spikes and ice axes and did not feel comfortable climbing the gully from the end of the traverse. Had the sobering experience of gathering the gear that was strewn along the route from the fall.
|2015-07-11||Route: South Face
Info: Red Gully conditions are snow, running water, wet rock, loose rock and ice. Broken Hand Pass is still a steep snow climb. This photo is from 7/11. CCSAR has responded to calls on both the 11th and the 12th for injuries sustained in falls in the Red Couloir. Working with Saguache County, Western State, HAATs and EagleMed, we were able to evac Saturday‘s patient to an area hospital. Fortunately weather conditions were favorable, or this response could have had a different outcome, as her injuries were serious. Carefully consider your abilities and the abilities of your climbing partners before attempting Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle, until they are snow free. Be prepared for the unexpected, including a potential night on the mountain awaiting rescue.
|Custer County SAR||2015-07-13||1||1||1|
|2015-07-03||Route: Crestones Traverse
Info: I just solo‘d it this Friday. Didn‘t see anyone else on it other than two guys that climbed the ellingwood arete and were coming off the top of the needle just before i summited, and didn‘t see any tracks other than what Andrew Hamilton left the day before. Going up broken hand pass, there is a steeper snowfield. I broke out my micro spikes for it. I brought my axe too, which i found useful as well. From the top of the pass to the needle, there is no need to walk on any snow, as any remnants were able to be bypassed. From the needle to where the traverse joins the main route up the south side of the peak, there were a few short snow crossings, some of which had bypasses. I didn‘t feel like the snow really made it much harder except a few times i post-holed. I don‘t think i used the spikes or the axe along the traverse. Once you hit the red gulley going up to the top of crestone peak, then the snow gets nasty. Maybe it had just warmed up too much, but i found almost all of the snow was a wet sloppy mess on top of solid ice or an air cavity, so i stuck to the right side of the gully as much as possible until i was at ~13900‘, where i crossed over to the left side, and followed dry rock to the top. Definitely used my spikes and my axe here. I decided to make a loop of the trip and descend the NW gully. This snow was at least in descent shape, and i exited the NW gully right where it looked like a few wet slides had pilled up at the bottom. The NW gully might still be climbable up it if you got up there early enough in the morning when the snow was hard. Axe was used as a self-belay, and had to catch one short slide with it since the snow seemed too wet and slushy and steep for a glissade. After getting out of the NW gully, I traversed over through the bears playground and descended the Humbolt saddle. Almost no snow on that leg.
|2015-06-26||Route: South Face
Info: My plan was to camp near Lower South Colony Lake, and on Friday climb Cestone. Hiking in I didn‘t find a place to camp near the lake, and the Mosquitos were hellacious, so I decide to head over Broken Hand Pass, and camp near Willow Lake. The path to Broken Hand still has 6-7 snow fields to cross, and Broken Hand is still snow packed, except for the final 50 meters before the top. Gators, crampons, and an ice ax are mandatory. On Friday I didn‘t think I‘d attempt Crstone, since I was only two days at elevation, coming out from Minnesota, and battling a summer cold. My plan was to hike over and see what the Red Gully looked like, and head out since the return (for me the lower trail @ 8,800‘) was going to be a long day. At 6:30 am I hiked to the gully, and indeed it was snow packed to the top, my guess 1000‘. Given that it was a gorgeous sunny morning I decided to make an attempt, and reached the summit at about 10:30 am. Crestone Peak is a long hike, 20 miles RT from the lower parking lot, and the added the snow will slow you down considerably; I didn‘t reach the parking area until 7:00 pm, which was 12.5 hour day. My guess is that Broken hand and the Red Gully, will have some amount of snow, for another 10-14 days, maybe longer. This is a challenging climb under the best of conditions, with the snow be prepared for two long days.