Happy Labor Day and welcome back to the evergoing tales of Lady McClimbsalot!! My climbing adventures have since Capitol brought me to the treacherous summit of Mt. Sherman as well as the foggy and confusing peaks of Challenger Point and Kit Carson. Unlike a lot of other TR authors that will remain anonymous, I really like to put forth effort in these things only writing them when 1, it's worth my time, and 2, it's worth yours. That being said, pop open that holiday beer, throw your feet up, and enjoy :-D
We took off and drove the 3 1/2 hours to South Colony Road. Unfortunately, Raman Destroyer had to work, so he was not joining us this go-around. I on the other hand decided to quit my job solely for this trip. You know, God just didn't have it in His plan for me to be a professional waitress. I won't bore you with details of our approach except for a couple of things. For one, that road is so crazy I'm surprised I didn't suffer brain damage bouncing from one side of the car to the other. Definitely need 4WD (or a tank) to get up S Colony Rd. It was about a four mile hike in to where we camped... although we could've made it a lot shorter. When you get to the gate (beginning of the old 4WD TH), take the Humboldt trail to your right. It is significantly shorter (if you pull up both routes on a GPS you'll see what I mean). We took the route that is suggested on the route description on 14ers.com and tagged on about a half a mile. Good thing we're so hardcore, it didn't even phase us Har, har, har. Anyway, we made camp around 7 pm and had a lovely night until some other guys blazed into our "backyard" at around midnight. We just kind of asked "What's going on here?!" after about 45 minutes of branches snapping, talking, and loud-tent-setupping. They responded with a weak apology and pretty much kept doing what they were doing. Next time that happens I don't think I'll blink twice before running at their campsite pretending to be a rabid bear until they are convinced to relocate. Nobody likes an angry Danielle. They made for a restless night, but nevertheless, we woke up ready to tackle our mountains at 5:20 am.
Alpenglow on the Needle
We had been debating whether or not to tackle both the Peak and the Needle in the same day over the last couple of weeks, and once we started ascending up Broken Hand Pass, we decided most definitely we would. Nobody wants to do that approach twice. Quintessential "piss me off gravel" if you ask me. We hooked up with a guy named Tony from Texas. We immediately asked where in Texas he was from and were relieved to hear he was from El Paso, and not a part of that awful Camp Gladiator mess that destroyed Willow Lake a couple weeks ago He was a fun addition to our duo and we convinced him to join us on our combo climb. By the time we had descended the opposite side of Broken Hand Pass down to Cottonwood Lake, we were joined by two more. We were just filtering some water when I whirled around to someone yelling, "I can't believe it! It's Lady McClimbsalot!!!!" I beamed at them and couldn't hold back my laughter Apparently my dance video has gained me a few fans lololol Alas, our trio then grew to five and we adopted Mountain Maverick and Doug into our group as well. We chatted and continued on to the red gully that would lead us to the summit of Crestone Peak. (If some of these are out of order, forgive me. My TR got deleted because I uploaded too many pictures at once and everything kind of decided to go to hell in a hand basket. It's spot on for the most part!)
On our way to the gully
Mountain Maverick scoping it out
Work that up-do
Up, up, up.
And finally, the summit!
Tony and Maverick
This next picture makes me all warm and fuzzy. They actually requested this picture saying, "I want one with Lady McClimbsalot!" D'awwwwww
Making me feel like a celebrity
We began our descent and prepared ourselves for the Needle.
Doug taking a breather
We bid farewell to Mountain Maverick and Doug at the bottom of the red gully and continued on with Tony. Our goal was to be at the top of Broken Hand Pass by noon, and we made it 15 minutes ahead of schedule. We had only been on the trail not even ten minutes before we ran into a very peculiar man. He stopped us in our tracks in his overly-white knee-high socks and Jansport backpack. I dubbed him the Oracle of the Needle seeing as he was just an overflowing fount of knowledge. He spoke calmly and quietly, always with a slight smile, as if he had a grand secret he was just itching to tell us... Almost too quietly for being outside. He quickly sized us up as "capable climbers" because we had helmets, and then went on to warn us of the infamous dihedral, telling us we'd have to jump four feet across a chasm. I wanted to rip my face off as he went on rambling. "It took me 20 minutes to try to cross it, but I got turned around. Good thing I had the red flags," he said as he took off his backpack to open it, which had flags strapped to the back. It was filled with bright red felt. I wasn't sure whether he was about to muff our faces with chloroform or begin an arts and crafts hour. "Many, many moons ago I descended the wrong way off a mountain. It was not a pleasant experience. That's why I keep this. All this cost a dollar." I tried my best to be polite, but then realized anyone who starts a sentence off with the phrase, "Many, many moons ago," is most likely someone you should distance yourself from. I realized he was explaining his ingenius Hansel and Gretel tactic of route finding. I remained uninterested and kept walking.
Anyways... The Crestone Needle is marked surprisingly well. We had no need for weird red felt from strangers and followed obvious cairns the whole way up.
Up the Needle!
You should be familiar with the differences of the east and west gullies, however. The east is a Class 4 and also has well-marked cairns, so know which route you want to follow and stick to it. The west gully just after the dihedral is marked with yellow tape. Not all, but a lot of the cairns have this tape. The dihedral itself was not that difficult. It's definitely a Class 4 move, but very doable. Tony from Texas had no issues crossing with a little coaching. Oh yeah, did I mention it was his 4th 14er? His 3rd being the peak that day, and his 2nd being Blanca the previous Thursday? He also camped at the 4WD TH so he had a 17 mile day that day. Kudos to you, Texas man!! In the picture below you can see one of two cairns that form a "gate" just above us. One of those cairns had that yellow tape on it.
Myself and Tony just after the dihedral. The cairn gate is just above us.
We added a different pair of guys to our group about halfway up, Mark and Scott (I think...), who added a great amount of hilarity to the end of our day. Oh yeah, and I'm fairly certain THEY were the ones who go to camp at midnight and woke us up. They denied it, though We didn't get much time to chat on the way up since all 5 of us had done both peaks via the standard routes that day, but after taking some awkward summit photos, we had a great time together. Congratulations were said all around! Tony even says to me in the summit video, "You're one tough broad. You should've been a marine." Ha! I'll take the compliment
A colorful 18th 14er!!!
It may not be a dance, but I got to give you guys something to laugh at
Once again, God has blown me away with His creation not only in its beauty, but how it has challenged me. This trip actually included Humboldt Peak on Sunday, as well, but since it's a more well-known mountain I decided to focus this TR on the Crestones. What a couple of gems they are! I would even venture to say these two (at least combined) gave me more of a run for my money than Capitol did. Though Capitol was 10x more dangerous, the Crestones require constant climbing, constant incline, and they demand every ounce of your energy. I would love to go back and do the traverse now that I'm familiar with the mountains. Beautiful, wonderful weekend at South Colony. Couldn't have asked for a better Labor Day weekend :-D
By the way, if you want some KILLER after-mountain grub, stop at R's Pizza in Silver Cliff on your way out. It's on the right side of the road if you're heading east out of town. It is hands-down the best pizza I've ever had. Friendly couple named Bob and Arlene own it and they are a hoot. Arlene joked about how everyone in that town is married to their cousin and has one tooth. It's worth the stop... and the beer is ICE COLD!! :-D
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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