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 Peak(s):  Crestone Peak  -  14,294 feet
 Post Date:  08/02/2009
 Date Climbed:   08/01/2009
 Posted By:  astromwall

 That gully is LONG!   

Every summer some friends of ours come out from MN to go hike some 14ers. They had 19 down before the start of this trip. My wife, Julie, and I try to join them on any climb we can. Julie and I had done the Needle and Humboldt previously and wanted to do Crestone Peak before they close the road this year. We talked Dan and David into hiking this with us so they could see this area without the miles that will be added by the road closure. We picked them up at their hotel in Leadville on Friday afternoon and headed to the trailhead. We hit the 4wd road at about 8pm and it took about an hour to get up. The upper parking lots were really full so it took a bit of time to find a flat enough spot to set up a tent. The next morning we set off for the peak at 5:40.
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After leaving the SAR access road you could look back into the valley filled with clouds below.
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There were also a lot of different types of wildflowers on this short portion of the trail before you head back into the trees.
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The trail heads straight at Humboldt before turning left and back toward the lakes.
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The first mile and a half of the hike is very easy and before you know it you end up at the junction to Broken Hand Pass. Crestone Needle rules!
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The trail gets much steeper as it heads up the pass. The first time I hiked this I was surprised how high the pass actually was. I thought it was going to be much lower.
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Getting closer to the top of the pass you can see the steeper climbing that needs to happen to gain the ridge.
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After climbing some steep loose trail pieces you arrive at the only real climbing part of the pass. Above this it is just more steep and loose switchbacks to the top.
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I remember looking down on cottonwood lake a couple years ago while climbing the needle. The trail down to it is much steeper than I thought it was going to be. We were down to the lake in no time.
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When approaching the lake, Crestone Needle towers way above you.
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The trail goes around the right side of the lake and continues to lose elevation after the lake.
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After walking for further than expected we got our first glimpse of the gully we would be climbing. Some light white clouds were blocking our views of the gully. We could only see a portion of the gully because of those clouds, but what we did see didn‘t look too bad.
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We took a snack break near a city of marmots and then made our way back to the base of the gully.
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As we started up the gully you could see it was definitely red. I don't think you could mistake the route up this.
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The gully is mostly easy climbing usually with plenty of options for making your way up. Most of the easier lines seemed to be on the left side.
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Dan and David hadn't climbed any class 3 routes since Long's about 5 years ago. We helped them through any nervousness they had. I was having a good time!
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When approaching the final snowfield we could see people walking along the left side. You pretty much were in a rut between deep snow and rock. We didn't see anyone climb up the snow, everyone went around.
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Here is a view of Dan, Julie, and David on the way down passing the snow.
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When we started up the gully, I didn't realize how long it actually was. It took a long time. When I reached the notch at the top there were no more clouds and you could look all the way back to where we approached the gully. WAY WAY down there!
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Also at the notch you get a great view of Kit Carson and Challenger.
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Looking to the left from the notch you can see the ledges you follow to the summit. From here the top is not far off.
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We had the top all to ourselves. There were basically no clouds or wind up there. Beautiful!
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Julie and I made our way back to the notch to head up East Crestone while Dan and David started back down the gully. The climb up is straight forward and only took a few minutes.
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The view of Humboldt and Crestone Needle from there was amazing and was well worth the extra couple minutes and small effort.
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You could also see the 4wd parking lot way out there.
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While climbing down the east peak, we came across a small notch that dropped straight down. Julie had to take a peek.
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Before long we caught Dan and David and continued down and out of the gully. At the bottom we ran across a pack of sheep that just kinda looked at us. They kicked a couple rocks at us too.
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On the hike back we stopped at Cottonwood Lake to soak our feet. The hike back up to the pass wasn't too bad or long. The worst part was descending the pass back to tree line. After that is was a quick hike to the car. Good but Long day out there.

It was good to get to hike with Dan and David again after our not so great communication on Huron last year... (We missed them at the trailhead and didn‘t get to climb together).

After climbing the peak I would consider the Needle much easier. There may be a couple moves that may be more difficult, but the energy it takes is a lot less. All in all a good time.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
kbmountain


Nice     2009-08-02 21:58:13
Nice Pictures, how long did your trip up crestone and back down to the 4WD parking take?


astromwall


Slow!     2009-08-02 22:06:41
12 hrs 20 min moving slow with lots of breaks. I thought it would be about 8 or 9 probably. We left at 5:40 am and got back to the car at 6:00. Such a long day! Not to mention the 4 hour car ride home.


Wish I lived in CO


Nice pic selection     2009-08-03 06:26:08
I had considered doing this climb this summer, but am not ready yet, maybe in a future year after more experience - anyway your pictures in the gulley are unique as they show very good what to possibly expect that the climbing might be like. Nice commentary and usual summit and scenic pics. The second pic at daybreak is stunning as well.


aHudge


Amazing photos     2009-08-20 08:28:37
great color, composition and depth of field!

thanks for sharing



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