Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Post Date:  07/26/2009
Modified:  07/27/2009
Date Climbed:   07/25/2009
Posted By:  CarpeDM

 Wrapping up some unfinished Crestone business   

Objective: Crestone Needle

Partners: Eric (Lostsheep5), Kevin (Moonnugs), Jamie (Jamie), Julie (?), Ryan (Baumgara)

Distance: 6.25 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,300 ft

Trailhead (me only): 5:25am
BHP: 6:45am
Summit: 8:15am
Trailhead: 11:55am

The first time I climbed with 15-year-old climbing sensation Lostsheep5 was last year on Labor Day weekend during my first trip to the Sangres. I had put out a call for partners for the Crestone group and soon heard from Britt (Globreal) who would be bringing Eric (Lostsheep5) as well as Dustin. We had our plan; Mother Nature had hers. Guess who won.

After climbing the Peak, Britt and Dustin had to leave. But Eric and I stayed to attempt the Needle and Humboldt. The next day – despite cold, cloudy, windy, rainy weather – Eric and I dutifully arose about 4:00am and soon started to make our way up to Broken Hand Pass, hoping Mother Nature would be generous and relent. At the pass, we waited for a while in sleet conditions before deciding to put the Needle off until the next day and head over to Humboldt instead. Well, Mother Nature put up a fight, but we snagged Humboldt anyway. But to punish us for our thievery, she made the weather even worse the next day – so the Needle eluded us.

Fast forward to this past week: I decided it was time to get back down there so I put out another call for partners. Lo and behold, Eric responded again. He still needed the Needle in his quest to finish off the 14ers in just two years (Ah, to have summers off!). And I thought it would be fitting to finish up this Crestone business with him. Another climber (JerryB) answered the call as well, and along with Kevin (Moonnugs), Jamie, Julie, and Ryan, we set out to bag that baby.

BTW, not being a "Gurl" myself, I had completely lost track of the "Gurlz hike" thread until Rainier_Wolfcastle (my coworker) walked over to my desk Friday morning with a big grin on his face. Oh, geez! It's this weekend?! At South Colony Lakes?! That should add to the already beautiful scenery, but also make it a bit crowded up there. Well, it turned out that I never encountered these mythical Gurlz. I only heard tales of their rock-hopping prowess and pillow-fights in the tents. I guess I'll have to wait for the "Girls of" calendar (featuring Canyongoddess?). Sigh.

But a man's mind wanders. Anywho, we had some missed connections with JerryB so we ended up meeting him only on the way back down. The rest of us stood on the top of the Needle together – and under beautiful, sunny skies! Mission Accomplished!

For Eric and me, this was a "hit it and quit" mission. The others went on to attempt (and bag?) the Peak that day as well.

The skinny on the Needle: Both Eric and I felt that the Needle was easier and that the gully portions were shorter than expected (and desired). Personally, even though I had done Wetterhorn, Lindsey's NW ridge, and Kelso Ridge (et al), I had built up some expectations when I saw the 4 bars out of 6 (with no 6s!) on Bill's Exposure page and read the opinions of people who had done most if not all the 14ers. These expectations spurred feelings of apprehension as well as resolve. In the end, I felt that the Needle:
- was marginally more difficult than the Peak
- was beautifully solid rock
- really didn't feel very exposed (I felt Wetterhorn's exposure much more)
- had only a few moves that seemed very "crux-y."

As for route-finding, we did get a little off-route on the way down a couple of times, but quickly corrected ourselves without any problems. I think we referenced Bill's route description one time. Switching from the East to West gullies and back was definitely the trickiest part of the day in terms of route-finding (EDIT: and simply finding the West Gully from the top). And that also seemed to be where many of the trickiest moves were. But the nastiest, most treacherous part was still coming down the loose crap below Broken Hand Pass.

So maybe the lesson is that I shouldn't be such a scaredy-cat. But then fear can be a healthy emotion with relation to the mountains. So maybe the lesson is… "The Girls of" Sigh…

Eric, once again it was a pleasure, young man. It was also a pleasure to meet Kevin and Ryan. And, Jamie and Julie, I guess I did encounter some Gurlz after all. I hope you all were able to get the Peak. JerryB, please let us know if you were able to make it up; we noticed some rain on our drive back.

Here is the story told in pictures:

Eric waits as I use the camera as an excuse to catch my breath

Sunrise over Humboldt Peak

Starting out from Broken Hand Pass

Our group consisted of (l to r): Kevin, Ryan, Eric, Julie…

And Jamie

Just past the downclimb is the entrance to the East Gully

Starting up the East Gully – the water was not a problem – there were plenty of options here

Julie watches Eric on the first true awkward move – getting across the gully to exit onto the rock rib

Jamie executes the move flawlessly

Getting up the rock rib is steep, but not a big deal

Looking back at the beginning of the West Gully. At the very top left corner, you can see a climber coming up over the rock rib to enter the gully.

In the West Gully, the climbing gets progressively steeper as the gully narrows. Then, it busts open where it joins up with the upper East Gully. The summit is close. Dang it.

Looking back down the route up the West Gully

Eric's closing in on the 2 year plan (this is the 44th) – with some of his previous conquests over his head (the Blanca group)

I'm only at 35 – with my 26th behind me


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Nice!     07/26/2009 11:58
I‘m headed down there on the 10th-11th of August, so I totally appreciate the beta! And here‘s another vote for a ”Gurlz of” calendar! I‘d buy it! My birthday month (April) featuring USAKeller AND canyongoddess?? *sigh*

emcee smith

Great!     07/26/2009 12:35
Dave, good job getting the middle numbers out of the way. I guess no Okie on this one? Are you still thinking of Chicago Basin in a few weeks? Just got back, and can give you tips (for what they are worth) if you like.


Stalkers!     07/26/2009 16:53
Its pretty funny how many of the MEN of we met on the GURLZ hike yesterday!

Great report - thanks for the pics of people crossing from one gully to the other. We are hoping to go back this year to get the Needle done!

Bummer we didn‘t run into you! And sorry, COmedic, neither USAKeller or canyongoddess were with us. ;)


Congrats on #35     07/26/2009 17:14
Thanks for the entertaining trip report with some very helpful pics.

My wife and were getting some training on Kelso Ridge (becoming one of my favorite climbs) yesterday. From what we saw, Grays must have set a one day summit record.

COmedic04, we‘ll be down there for the Peak and Needle on the 10th and Humboldt on 11th...hope we see you and some clear skies!


looks like fun...     07/26/2009 19:09
great trip report! and yes, we did have pillow fights in the tent. sorry you missed it!


Thanks     07/26/2009 19:46
COmedic04: I‘ve got additional pics and info at a picasaweb site:

emcee smith: thanks and congrats on the Chicago Basin. I‘ve read your TR and will probably ask you some questions here in the next couple of days.

gatorchick: Yes... Yes, it is a bummer. Good luck on the Needle!

Rainier: Congrats to you and the wife on Kelso! It‘s nice having a route like that so close to home. Did you descend that way, too, to avoid the mobs?

superdawg: I KNEW IT!!!


Gurlz     07/27/2009 00:29
Gurlz climb????I drove 4 of them (gurlz) up to South Colony.(happy to do so) Glad Eric held back to meet up with you and nice meeting you Dave. Great group. I‘ll allow some gurlz to take note of the boy girl ratio in the group photo. From the left
Eric, Dave, Jamie, Me, Julie, Kevin


Way to go Dave!     07/27/2009 03:05
I am glad to read that you didn‘t get rained out this time.! I was going to be on this climb with you all but I came down with cold/flu symptoms. Argh!!

I‘ve got the needle down for Labor Day weekend. Hopefully I be blessed with the same weather.

Congratulations! And nice write up....some fun writing!


...     07/27/2009 06:07
Baumgara: I do remember now that Eric said you were Baumgara. Yes, I‘m grateful to Eric for hanging back and to you guys for waiting at the pass. I wanted to wait as long as possible to get in contact with JerryB, but without jeopardizing our chances of getting the climb in. And thanks for the group summit shot! It was indeed a great group!

Globreal: Yes, Eric mentioned that you had been planning to come. Sorry to hear that you were sick. I hope you‘re able to get up there on Labor Day. I have been following your progress - it looks like you‘ve been knocking ‘em out pretty quickly! Happy climbing!

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