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 Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
 Post Date:  06/04/2009
 Date Climbed:   06/03/2009
 Posted By:  B[3]

 The Crestone Rain Forest   

We had originally planned a rock climbing trip, but the weather did not cooperate. We could see the Sangres, and they looked sunny, so we decided to head out to South Colony Lake (on 6/1/).

Our Subaru Outback did fine on the road, but given the height of the creek, we decided to park just below the first creek crossing. By the time we had unpacked our climbing gear and re-packed with our mountaineering gear, it was raining. Although we knew the weather forecast was not good, we decided to hike in anyway.

We got soaked on the hike up the 4 WD road and were pretty cold by the time we got to the end of the road. Given the amount of rain, we didn't want to camp on the snow, so we pitched our tent in a well-used campsite that was mostly free of snow. It poured (and snowed) for the remainder of the evening.

The next morning, Ben woke me up and tried to convince me to go for a peak. It was still pouring, so I declined. When the rain slowed, we hiked up to Lower South Colony Lake to do some recon of the conditions. Although we brought snowshoes, we didn't need them.

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It started snowing really hard during our hike, but eventually the weather relented enough so that we could see Broken Hand Pass and part of Crestone Needle.

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Since we hadn't done any of the Crestone Group previously, we decided that if the weather cleared the next day we would start with Humboldt and check conditions on the Needle and Peak. It turned out to be a good decision (especially since it precipitated most of the day on 6/2--rain, snow, sleet, you name it--we woke up to new snow on the ground the next morning).

The next morning was beautiful (6/3), so we left for Humboldt at 6:45am.

Finally, views of Crestone Needle

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and Humboldt

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On our recon the previous day, we did not like the looks of the crossing just south of Lower South Colony Lake, so we decided to go back across the double log footbridge and to take the "pack trail" starting from the parking lot east of the last creek crossing. The trail was relatively easy to follow--it was melted out in some spots and required snow travel in others. Again, we took snowshoes, but did not need them--the postholing was minimal.

Looking up at Humboldt

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Given the recent snow, warming temps (first sunny day after several of snow and precip), and high winds, we decided to go up the talus slope instead of trying the unknown condition of the standard trail. We stuck to the talus and stayed off the deeper snow as much as possible.

A rough depiction of our route

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Once we got to the top of the steep talus slope, we followed the ridge to the summit.

Summit photos

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Leo walking down the ridge from the summit

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The snow was pretty firm, so snowshoes weren't needed. On the way down, the snow began to soften but we still bare-booted it.

While heading up, we had heard a noise that sounded a bit like a jet engine. Neither of us thought much of it at the time but when we stopped for a break, we noticed avalanche activity on Crestone Needle and Broken Hand Peak.

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While sitting on a rock, we noticed several avalanches going down the Needle and Broken Hand Peak (including Broken Hand Pass). We had hoped to try either the Needle or Peak the following day but decided it was too dangerous given the avalanche activity. Next time.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (3)
sleestak240


South Colony Lakes     2009-06-04 21:45:30
Thanks for the report! Just out of curiosity, were the lakes in the area still frozen solid or are they starting to break up?


B[3]


Defrosting     2009-06-05 09:37:04
Lower South Colony Lake was mostly open water (with some sketchy looking snow bridges over the creek drainage). We don‘t remember the condition of the upper lake.


backpackflyfish


Thanks     2009-06-08 19:39:53
for the trip report, very helpful in planning my trip on 6/9



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