| Crestone Peak - Standard route from bottom of S. Colony Rd
This is my first trip report that I've publicly posted, so be kind (especially since I didn't include any pics)!
What: Crestone Peak - both West and East summits from the bottom of South Colony Rd via Broken Hand Pass/South Couloir
Mileage/Elevation gain: 19 miles, almost 7000 feet of hiking
Time: 13 hours 30 minutes
trailhead at bottom of South Colony Road: 2:31am
Trailhead at the top of the road: 4:49am
Top of Broken Hand Pass: 7:00am
Bottom of the Red Couloir: 7:45am?
West summit: 9:00am
East summit: 9:35am
Lunch at Cottonwood Lake: 11:40am
Top of Broken Hand Pass: 12:30pm
Trailhead at the top of the road: 2:04pm
Back at the car: 4:01pm
Start at the trailhead at the bottom of south
I hiked Crestone Peak on August 12 from the trailhead at the bottom of South Colony road.
On Saturday, August 11, I went to scope out the trailhead and noticed that it was out in the open, didn't have
any bathrooms, and was the center of a lot of activity. Instead of camping out there as was the original plan,
I pitched a tent at an RV park off of Rte 69 between Westcliffe and Colfax Rd.
I was pretty pumped about the hike, so I got maybe 3 hours of sleep by the time I woke up naturally at 1:45am.
Drove the 15 minutes to the trailhead, ate a breakfast consisting of a 32oz gatorade, a banana, and several donut holes.
Started heading up South Colony Rd at 2:30am. I got a little confused at the first river crossing that cost me 10 minutes.
I also spotted 2 raccoons in a tree where the Rainbow trail crosses South Colony road. Other than that, it was a long boring
hike to the trail. My Toyota Highlander would've been able to manage the road until the first river crossing, but alas, I beat the
crud out of it on the road to Yankee Boy Basin (Sneffels), so I wasn't going to push it.
Once I finally got to the trail, I took it nice and slow. The sign at South Colony Lakes that directed you up the standard route of
Crestone Needle was obvious, even in the early morning. The first half of the trail heading to Broken Hand Pass was nice. It was
pretty rocky, but there were huge cairns to guide you. It's obvious that a lot of work had been done on that trail. At about 12,000
feet, I stopped and got some breakfast and enjoyed the sunrise. The approach to the pass was fairly flat until 12,400 feet, then it
rose steeply to the top of the pass at 12,900 feet. I only encountered 15-20 feet or so of Class 3 scrambling. The rest of it was
some pretty loose dirt (which was more miserable descending than ascending). At the top of Broken Hand Pass, I was heartened to discover
that Cottonwood Lake was very close. The descent to the lake was better than expected, it was a good trail. Also, the entrance to
the Red Couloir at 12,200 feet was obvious as well. There was a whole colony of tents strategically placed right in front of the
couloir. Most of the tents were for people who are doing trailwork on the standard route of Crestone Peak. I was able to take advantage
of their handy work for a few hundred feet or so until the trail petered out in the lower red couloir.
The lower red couloir was a lot of fun! There were a lot of scrambling opportunities to be had. There was a stream running down the middle,
and I tended to stay just to the left (west) of it. About halfway up, hit a cairned route and ended up following that to the saddle between
the west and east summits. Also, saw a pretty big flock of Bighorn sheep, complete with a few young ones. The upper part of the couloir
wasn't as fun as the lower part. I found a lot less solid rock to scramble on. There was
a snowfield or two that were easily avoided. At the saddle, I headed up to the west summit. This part was awesome, some really fun/easy scrambling!
It seemed to take no time to reach the summit from here. What a summit! It was a lot smaller than expected, huge dropoffs on most sides. Hung out
there for about 20 minutes, then headed to the East summit via the saddle at the top of the south couloir. Headed straight up a couloir that looked
miserable to climb up, but wasn't bad at all, a lot less looseness than expected. I strongly recommend climbing both the East and West summits! The
traverse to Crestone Needle looked really tough. Maybe some day, I'll get a chance to try that one.
The trip down was long but relatively uneventful. It probably took longer to descend the upper part of the couloir than ascending it. I made a slight
judgement error by continuing to follow a cairned route off to the left (east) that left the red couloir, over a ridge, and into the next drainage.
It would've been much more fun to continue down the red couloir. Instead, this cairned route took the scenic tour into the next drainage and eventually
merged with the standard route. Ate lunch at Cottonwood Lake. Took my time coming back up to Broken Hand Pass. Coming down Broken Hand Pass was
a bit of a pain. I fell on my a*s thanks to all the loose dirt. Long trip back to the car. I was indeed thankful that I didn't have to carry a huge
backpack out though. A mountain bike would've been really sweet to descend that road. Maybe I'll bring one when I come back to hike "The Needle" and Humboldt Peak.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):