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Stepping up to the Crestones

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Mountainspirit » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:47 pm

Looking for some input/advice . . .
I've got it on my calendar to finally get out to climb the Needle and the Peak. I've read over trip reports and of course the route descriptions many times. From what I can tell, I'm ready (though some more conditioning would help :oops: ). But, my class III experience is quite limited - in that I've climbed Longs, Halo Ridge to HC (2+), and plan on Sneffles (2+ & weather permitting) in August. In the next couple of months, I hope to get some other "transitional" exposure/extended class III training. Kelso Ridge & Sawtooth seems like they would fit that bill. Are there other suggestions out there?
I welcome any and all input.
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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby USAKeller » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:12 pm

Scott - Kelso Ridge is a solid intro to Class 3 terrain and exposure, one of my favorite routes on the 14ers. Climb Kelso several times! I also think the standard (Southeast Ridge) route on Wetterhorn is another good class 3 climb; you definitely have exposure and the rock is pretty good (not quite as nice as you'll find the Crestone conglomerate though!). If you're looking for 14ers only, you have slim pickings without getting into more rotten rock on peaks like Snowmass and Maroon. Are you entertaining 13er suggestions as well? Hope that helps a little bit.

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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Mountainspirit » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:46 pm

Thanks so much! And no, I'm not exclusive to only climbing 14ers. Living in Summit, I've also considered the traverse from Crystal Peak across Father Dyer to Mt. Helen as well as climbing Pacific. I just want to get more and different experience.
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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Bullwinkle » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:17 am

I think you will find the Crestones to be a blast. Great rock and extraordinary scenery. These are more a question of endurance, good judgment, a bit of route finding on the needle, and weather conditions. From your posted experience, you will definitely not want to try the traverse between the two. To get both in on the same trip, most would set up camp at South Colony Lakes and return there between ascent trips. There are good TRs available on this site.
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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby painless4u2 » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:21 am

I think you will find the Crestones to be a blast. Great rock and extraordinary scenery. These are more a question of endurance, good judgment, a bit of route finding on the needle, and weather conditions. From your posted experience, you will definitely not want to try the traverse between the two. To get both in on the same trip, most would set up camp at South Colony Lakes and return there between ascent trips. There are good TRs available on this site.
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:17 am


+1

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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Navigaiter » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:40 am

I 2nd all Kelso Ridge recommendations. It's a stellar route.

However, for my purposes, few 3rd class routes can top Ellingwood's SW ridge. I only did it once 11 years ago, but it still sticks in my mind as one of the most fantastic routes I've ever done. If it were closer, I'd be climbing it all the time. It's solid, airy, long, and just pure fun. The finish is a slight slog, but it's not too bad.

Dyer's West ridge, while a bit more rotten, is also a good choice.

I'll also add Bierstadt's SE ridge to the list. It was one of the more exposed 3rd class routes I remember, if only for a short section. The only downsides are the long grass slopes to gain the 3rd class climbing and the final stretch to the summit.

Good luck, be safe, and have fun!

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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:32 am

When you feel ready for the Crestones, do Crestone Peak first as it is a little easier. The route finding is straightforward. The gulley is long but technically is not too bad. Having completed the peak you then will have confidence to do the Needle. In my introduction to class 3 I warmed up to it slowly having turned around on some routes simply because I was not yet ready. Now however I quite enjoy class 3. Whether your a "natural" or warm up to it like I did, you will find yourself enjoying it soon enough!
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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby LivingOnTheEdge » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:50 am

Mountainspirit wrote:Thanks so much! And no, I'm not exclusive to only climbing 14ers. Living in Summit, I've also considered the traverse from Crystal Peak across Father Dyer to Mt. Helen as well as climbing Pacific. I just want to get more and different experience.


When I was amping up to Class 3, I did the East Ridge of Pacific Peak. The route finding is pretty simple and if you stay on the ridge proper, there is some significant exposure with simple moves. Plus, if you feel uncomfortable with anything, you can always tone it down by dropping off the ridge a bit. The only thing I will say is that the rock gets a bit loose on the last tower downclimb. But, living in Summit, it's probably a fairly solid option.
Last edited by LivingOnTheEdge on Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby djkest » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:19 am

NW Face of Mt. Lindsey is a nice one. Although descending the gulley sucks.

Kit Carson and Challenger, while not Class 3 on the route, have the same type of rock and microclimate as the Crestones. There are a couple class 3 options en route to the KC summit as well that could help you prepare.
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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:33 am

Mountainspirit wrote:Living in Summit, I've also considered the traverse from Crystal Peak across Father Dyer to Mt. Helen as well as climbing Pacific.

The east ridge of Father Dyer is simpler and less loose than the FD-Helen ridge. We found the latter to be good for the first half, but some of the sections nearer Helen were either too technical to stay near the ridgeline or loose junk if you drop down.

The east ridge of Pacific is also good practice - long and varied.

I suspect you'll handle the Crestones ok if you can handle the distances involved - going over Broken Hand Pass twice to do Crestone Peak is kind of a long day.
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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby milan » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:44 am

Wetterhorn is a good advice, the class 3 is short, solid, and the exposure is similar to Crestones. Also Eolus, Wilson Pk, Longs. Kit Carson from the Avenue will give you an idea about the conglomerate, also a good idea. The other class 3 are more loose - Sneffels, Lindsey, Maroon, Snowmass, the climbing is different, all of the gravel in the gulleys. I would say Crestones were much nicer. Rain may make Crestones slippery, be careful.

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Re: Stepping up to the Crestones

Postby Buckshot Jake » Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:46 am

Instead of doing the standard route on Sneffels look into the Southwest Ridge. It will help you with your route finding and has some easy class 3 moves on it. I think if you have done Longs though and you were comfortable on that you should be fine with the Crestone's.

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