| Crestone Peak to Needle Traverse
I have nothing significantly new to report on this route, other than maybe some cool pics. I love hiking under moonlight, and I never let a summer full moon pass without doing a cool hike. This is also my first trip report, so bear with me, I'm not sure how to include photos yet where I want them in the report ....
This full moon I decided to try the Peak to Needle traverse. I started from the South Colony Lakes side at 2:50 am (camped right below the lower lakes). I had intended to go up the valley above the upper lakes and enjoy a short little snow climb up one of the couloirs, but realized if I did that I would not enjoy the moon light and would not be able to take pics of the moon, because it would be behind the ridge between the Peak and Needle. So I took the longer way around with the ridge above Bears Playground. The ridge was kind of annoying due to the constant up and down, which admittedly is normal, but since I knew I had a long traverse ahead, I just wanted to get the real climbing started. But I did get some cool moon pics and the sunrise, so the long way was worth it.
The Needle in the moonlight
The Needle and the Peak in the moonlight
Kit Carson in alpenglow
I reached the start of the real climbing below the Peak shortly after sunrise. I went too high too fast, so I did not follow any ledges over to the NW couloir. Oh well, I enjoyed making my own route and went up three little chimneys that were quite fun. Ascending the couloir was uneventful. I had fun intentionally going over pure ice, and trying to plant my ice ax and crampons. Many times my ice ax bounced back off the ice, thick and hard stuff! I had a normal ice ax, not techincal, so not surprising. It was just fun climbing and fooling around on the ice. Nothing unmanageable. After summiting the Peak I didn't stick around too long. I downclimbed to begin the traverse. I got on some of the side couloirs to the Red to enjoy some glissading without rocks below. That took a little extra time but was fun and worth it. The majority of the traverse was normal in/out and up/down to get around the ribs coming down from the ridge, fun easy stuff. But the last part to the ascent of the Needle is crazy. I wasn't worried about my abilities, I was worried about any of those knobs deciding to give way. I double and triple checked every hand and foot hold, so it took a while to get past that last 100 feet. I now understand why some people refer to this as a 'wall'.
This pic doesn‘t really show how steep it is, but this is the crux of the Peak to Needle traverse.
And I agree it gets steeper towards the top! Admittedly, I'm a hiker, not a climber, and I won't plan on doing that section again solo! After getting past the crux, the summit of the Needle is right there for the taking. Talk about instant gratification after such a crux! After enjoying quite a bit of time on top, I started on the downclimb to Broken Hand Pass. The weather was absolutely perfect, not a cloud in the sky at noon when I started down from the Needle. Great day. Hopefully pics will show the Needle and Peak in the moonlight, the sunrise, and the crux getting to the needle.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):