4wd trailhead to Lower South Colony Lakes – 2 hours 15 minutes (around 4 miles and 1800 ft elevation gain)
Crestone Needle – Start Time 5:15 am, Summit at 8am, lunch then back to camp by 1130am = 6+ hours
Crestone Peak – Start Time 5:15 am, Summit at 9:50, back to camp by 3:15 = 10 hours
Humboldt – Start Time 5:15 am, Summit at 7:15, back to camp by 930, packed up and hiked back to the trailhead by 12:50 = 6+ hours hiking time
We planned this back packing trip for a year. Luckily, we got an extra day to do things a little more leisurely. We aren’t the go-getters of the hiking world, but we ain’t too shabby either. We had to drive 6 hours to the trailhead from Grand Junction on Wednesday. The road isn’t too bad but we have a Tahoe. We can see how smaller cars could make it if they are careful. The hike up was quite beautiful and a bit warm. Still some nice wildflowers out there. Landed an awesome camping spot luckily.
Day 1 – the Crestone Needle.
Broken Hand Pass is great. There are big cairns up to the base of it and then you just find whichever way over it that you would like to go. It still took close to a couple hours to get over it and get to a great view of our objective.
The conglomerate rock is so cool. It is very pretty and so many variations in color. The rock was very stable and had great hand holds. We really didn’t have a hard time. It could have been much harder route finding if we hadn’t seen where to cross over from the East gully by the one climber that was in front of us or if there wasn’t big yellow tape on several landmarks. Especially when we came back down, it could have been pretty hard to tell where to get out of the West gully if it weren’t for two brightly colored cairns. Some people might really enjoy the difficulties of route finding and not appreciated those cairns, but I sure did. I rather climb than be worried about whether or not I am in the right place or not. Thin fog/clouds came rolling in pretty early but didn’t seem too threatening.
starting the east gully
crossing over from the east gully
hard to see in this pic but there is yellow tape on the cairn
looking up the west gully. There is red and yellow tape on a couple cairns at the start of the west gully
We didn’t have great views from the summit but the weather made up for that the next day.
Coming down off the summit, make sure to go towards the left. Do try to remember where you come out of the west gully and climb up a class 3 trail to the summit. This area can be a little tricky.
coming down from the summit onto a little trail that leads to the west gully
Down climbing wasn’t too bad. The worst of it seems to be the traverse from the West back to the East gully.
coming back to the east gully
the hardest move. Not too far of a fall though if you fell.
The weather cleared nicely and we got some beautiful views on the way back down.
We stopped for lunch after getting down off Broken Hand Pass. The marmot we named Willy decided to see how close he could get to us. I’d like to think that most people don’t feed these animals. I think they just associate people with crumbs and yummy urine.
no zoom on this pic
We did do some fly fishing after we got back to camp. The cuts were really on the bite that day. If you do some fishing when you go up there, definitely don’t assume that you would be the only one. Fishing seems to be quite popular at this lake. I can only hope that most people catch and release so the habitat continues to thrive.
So awesome to accomplish this climb.
Day 2 – Crestone Peak.
Broken Hand Pass is great. There are big cairns up to the base of it and then you just find whichever way over it that you would like to go. It still took close to a couple hours to get over it as mentioned before. This time we looked at the path all the way past Cottonwood Lake to get to the infamous red gully.
The red gully is long but still fun. The rock was a little more slippery depending on where you choose to go up. I tended to want to go up the right side where there were bigger rocks with more scrambling. Craig started on the left where the rock is flatter but then came over to the right. There was a fair amount of running water in the middle.
There was a lot of rubble to pick thru at the top third of the gully. No one was above us so we didn't have to worry too much about rock fall. However, this did become an issue when downclimbing. We tried to be very careful to climbers below us.
Once you get to the top of the gully, you look left and then you have a WTF moment. But when you take a few steps on the most logical route to the left side and peek around the corner you will see where to go to get to the summit. Those were fun ledges.
Beautiful weather and views at the top today.
Nice lunch spot at the lake before the grueling climb up to Broken Hand Pass and then back down to camp.
Day 3 - Humboldt
Broken Hand Pass is great… No wait – we didn’t have to do Broken Hand Pass again. Yea! Getting up to the saddle is like climbing stairs for an hour. Such beautiful alpenglow but it didn’t last for long. We were pretty lucky to get it at all because the clouds were pretty thick this morning.
After 2 full days of climbing, our legs were rubber, but we made it.
It was a pretty hike back down to camp.
The smell of our socks and shoes must have called out to the herd because we got some visitors while we were taking down camp.
Back to the truck. Always sad to end a great back packing trip but it felt like a great accomplishment to finish these three 14ers.
I can't add more than 30 pics, so I am going to leave the humboldt tr I did earlier and name it something else. http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=14072 If someone can let me know how to add more pictures, then I will consolidate this report as well.