Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Post Date:  07/17/2011
Date Climbed:   07/12/2011
Posted By:  kweeks

 Crestone Needle - Amazing . . .  

Start time: 6:15 am
Summit time 8:20 am
Returned to camp 10:45 am
We left Boulder around 6 pm on Monday the 11th headed south for Westcliffe. Our plan was to hike to the lakes when we arrived at the trail head later that night. It rained the entire way down to Westcliffe, which was very discouraging because we were hoping not to have to hike in the rain. Fortunately the weather decided to give us a break.
We arrived at the upper 2WD Trailhead at about 10 pm and started our hike to the lakes. The moon was bright enough that we didn’t need headlamps until we got to the Humboldt shortcut trail. We got to the lakes at about midnight, and set up camp.
Getting ready at the trail head

The next morning we woke up at about five thirty, filtered some water and got ready to leave. Unfortunately James decided to stay back because his feet were giving him a lot of pain.
In my opinion, Broken Hand Pass was probably the most tiring part of the entire climb, and by far the sketchiest. The loose scree was just tiring to cross, and it was easy to send large rocks down the hill. When we got to the top, we ate breakfast and rested a little before ascending the Needle.
Halfway up BHP

The route T took up BHP


Broken Hand Peak


The remaining climb...

The Climb up the east gully went by very quickly. The conglomerate rock made it very easy to climb quickly.
Looking up the east gully

Looking Down the east gully at the base of the Dihedral Crack

Before we knew it, we were at the base of the Dihedral crack. It is much larger in person.
The Dihedral Crack

T Crossing the dihedral

The Next step was to cross over to the west gully.
Me after crossing the dihedral. Pretty steep here. . .

Route onto the rib

T on the rib

The west gully was my favorite part of the climb up. The terrain is steep, the holds are great, and it feels like you are in another world.
Around 8:20 we reached the summit. We couldn’t have been happier with the weather on top. Blue skies and a light breeze made it the perfect summit. We hung out on the summit for a good forty-five minutes.
T on the Summit

The summit register . . . Needs replacing

Blanca Massif

Humboldt and Baldy

Me on the summit

Who lugged this up there? Its solid steel.

After some pictures and a snack, we headed down the mountain. I thought the down-climb of the west gully was just as fun as the ascent.
Down-climbing the West Gully


Pretty soon we were at the bottom of the east gully, and ready to head back to camp.

Before we got to Broken Hand Pass, we decided to do some more climbing on that awesome conglomerate.

On Broken Hand Pass, we learned a big lesson about how dangerous loose rock can be. We were descending the pass, when T accidentally knocked two decent sized rocks down the hill. We called “ROCK” to warn anyone below. At the time we didn’t know it, but there was a large party of about six guys heading towards Crestone Peak. They said that if we hadn’t have called the rock it would’ve been headed straight in their direction. From now on we are calling every rock regardless of whether there are people below or not, because sometimes you never know who is below you. We are glad, and lucky no one got hurt.
At the bottom of BHP we decided to do a little glissading on one of the remaining snow fields.
Afterwards we headed back to camp.

When we got to camp, we ate a light lunch then packed up camp. The hike down was long and painful. When we got back to the valley, we headed to Hunger Buster in Westcliffe for a burger.

Crestone Needle was by far my favorite climb to date. It was an amazing day up in the Sangres.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

The Sign
07/18/2011 03:19
Great trip report, traversed with 2 others last year. We climbed up the gully past that sign and got a laugh out of it.

Brian C

07/18/2011 03:31
When did that get put up there? Is it by the class 4 variation gully? Weird!


Great Report
07/18/2011 21:06
Enjoyed your trip report! Thanks!


07/20/2011 01:46
@ hollamby Thanks! We got a laugh out of it too. The illustration was pretty hilarious.

@Brian C I'm not sure when the sign got there, but it is to the left of the summit if you are looking north.

@MoSko Thanks! glad you enjoyed it!

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