Crestone Needle  
Condition Updates  
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2023-02-14, By: Grisel
Info: Trench all the way to to the turn off to crestone peak right before cottonwood lake (before current storm). Snowshoes from turn off to past cottonwood lake and up the snow slope to gain standard trail. Wind slabs early in the morning but burned off later in the day. East gully all the way up, mix of bulletproof snow and sugary snow. Snow conditions got better on the way down. Started just before 3am, cottonwood lake by sunrise and summit by 11am back to car at 4:30pm. Long day 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2023-02-04, By: Chrisfish25
Info: Went in to get the Needle and Peak. Thanks for whoever laid a trench yesterday! Met up with Rob, Dan, Nick & Tyler at their campsite & climbed the needle with them. Getting to broken hand pass is pretty easy & void of any avy conditions. Once inside of the gully it was a steep snow climb to the top of the ridge! Very good snow in there right. About as stable & consolidated as it gets. I got down & went up the Peak solo. Another awesome snow climb. They crew went down to camp, they're heading up for the peak tomorrow morning. Big day out there! Great weather. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-12-28, By: angry
Info: Approach from cottonwood is a mixed bag of dry, snow and some ice. Did not use flotation or traction on ascent. Getting to the east gully was time consuming but the rock quality is fantastic. There were a few areas iced over but easy to circumvent. All the peaks in the area look prime. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-12-29, By: astranko
Info: Went with bangerth. It was in condition before the storm. Wandering, small trench to treeline. Gully is low-snow and safe. Climbed without any traction or axe. Used an axe on the descent to make plunge stepping faster. Make sure your scrambling skills are in form. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-10-20, By: notidealbutfine
Info: I approached the needle from the west (crestone), and ran into virtually zero snow or ice the entire time. Still summer conditions up there. This is not the case for broken hand pass which was completely snowed over. Micro spikes would probably get you up fine. Maybe too early for crampons still. The needle was excellent, just a light dusting of snow in the shady areas, but I don't think I stepped on snow or ice all day, it was quite easy to avoid. Go get it! 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-10-17, By: KRAZY
Info: We climbed Crestone Needle Saturday 10/15 from Cottonwood Lake. The east gully was 95% dry. The little snow encountered was easily avoidable. We did not do Broken Hand Pass, but I'll include a pic. Other climbers said it had thin snow coverage. Also I took pics of the KC Avenue and Humboldt. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2022-10-17, By: ClimberBoi
Info: Hiked up from south colony trailhead, weather was perfect, a few clouds both days we were up and nothing else. Snow melt was going down the majority of the trail, however, there were dry paths up the entire way. Broken hand pass, along with most north faces was holding a few inches of snow consistently. There was boot pack up most of it, however, it is warm, slippery snow and without microspikes was incredibly challenging with a large pack. The other side of the pass is completely dry, and the weather at cottonwood lake where we stayed was perfect. The south face of Crestone Peak had running water but was snow free. The traverse was completely dry up until the red gulley below the 5.2 bulge, and the section above between the bulge and the knife edge. At the top of the gulley above the bulge, someone left a large green osprey backpack, filled with food, clothes, a sleeping bag, and backpacking supplies. Not sure what happened to the owner, but certainly eerie. The amount of snow that was above the knife edge and on the narrow ledges approaching the final pitch was enough to sketch us out, seeing as we had no snow equipment. We turned around, the downclimb from the bulge was tricky but possible, and the rest was easy. Down hiking broken hand pass in its current condition without microspikes was incredibly difficult and sketchy. While it seems to be warming up slightly, from this time on I would highly recommend being more prepared than me and bringing microspikes at the very least, and having plenty of layers for the incredible temperature differences along the route. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-10-15, By: WildWanderer
Info: From cottonwood creek, Dry the entire way. No traction needed. Looked down Broken Hand pass, there was about a foot of snow. Met two guys who attempted the traverse from the peak to the needle, and was told “there was too much ice on the last 2 or 3 pitches” and they turned around. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-09-26, By: 9patrickmurphy
Info: My partner and I were thoroughly underhwhelmed (in a good way) by this route. It's gotten so much hype about being so hard in various ways, but we thought it was incredibly straightforward. Broken Hand Pass is lame, but there's a well-defined use trail where there isn't a very well-constructed trail. The trail to the gully from the pass is also very straightforward. The descent to the gully was also rather obvious. Climbing in the gully ("east gully direct") itself felt like it only exceeded class 3 for maybe 5 moves total? The only routefinding we did was out of worry that we would end up in the wrong place, but after having done it I can say there is no wrong way up this gully, you just go up what looks the easiest. We were discussing how odd it felt that the old crossover variation used to be the standard, as the "class 4" east gully was really more like class 3+ on good rock, never exposed, a pretty obvious route, etc. I thought this was a delightful peak and wouldn't caution many people away from it. If you're comfortable on class 3 and have some rock climbing experience, this peak really shouldn't be that hard for you. Broken Hand peak was a nice addition afterwards, and the views of Crestolita were fantastic. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-09-13, By: powderizedbookworm
Info: Hiked Crestone Needle standard, but just went up and down the East Gully rather than crossing routes/gullies. The rock was very straightforward and solid, and I didn't see any reason to leave that gully. I also descended that way, and was able to walk normally through most of it with the exception of ~10 min where I felt more comfortable downclimbing facing the rock. Everything was dry, despite the swirling clouds and misting rain that had been in the area on the tenth. One nice bonus was very near the top (~14,050 ft I'd guess), just a few steps before I'd turn West for the last few minutes up the summit ridge, I was able to cheat as far East as I could get and was treated to a lovely exposed view of both South Colony Lakes, which are not visible from the summit. I assume I was near the top of the Ellingwood Arete route, and I would definitely recommend checking it out. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-08-16, By: wanderingsteve
Info: Climbed the East Gully direct. I did not feel like this was a Class 4 route; felt pretty solid Class 3 to me. Pretty solid rock throughout. Adding to what many others have said, I see no reason for anyone to do the crossover versus simply ascending and descending the East Gully. Beautiful day in the mountains. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2022-08-15, By: climbingyogi
Info: The traverse was awesome! It was my first great traverse, and my first time on either the Peak or Needle. Even as a rock climber, I was initially intimidated by the bulge and headwall from the photos, but they were the best parts of the whole day. My friend and I drove up to the upper 4wd lot at 3am on Sunday and it was almost completely packed, with the exception of one spot we snagged. People were also parked right off of the road leading up to the lot destroying the tundra. Super disappointing to see. The lower 2wd lot also looked packed when we passed it on the way up. I normally hike on weekdays so maybe this is normal, but I've never seen South Colony so busy. Started hiking by 3:15am. The road was quick walking, but the ascent up to Broken Hand Pass felt like it took forever in the dark. That could also be me though, as I haven't been hiking many mountains this summer. The climb up the Red Gully on the Peak also felt very slow going. There was water running down part of it, but it was easy to avoid. There's plenty of loose rock, but also plenty of solid rock if you're mindful. We came across a guide with his two clients and ended up hiking up to the Peak with them. Super nice people! The climb up to the Peak from the top of the red gully was super quick. The first half of the traverse is pretty straight forward and easy. I spent a good bit of time studying the route before our trip, but the traverse was pretty intuitive as well. The crux 5.2 bulge was super fun to get over and the mini knife edge was over before it started. When we got up to the headwall, we stayed pretty far left and found plenty of good holds the whole time. It was also over very quickly. We had intended to descend the east gully the whole way down the Needle, but even with our studying beforehand (reading trip reports, looking at photos, reading forum posts), we couldn't find it from the summit ridge. We ended up descending via the west gully after talking to a group ascending it. They told us about the orange marker for the crossover to the east gully, so we felt confident we would find it. The orange marker is on climber's left descending the west gully and it was very obvious. I found the descent to the crossover required a few mindful steps, and the actual crossover move (over the dihedral) felt a little tricky. A guy from a group coming down behind us was able to just step over it though. The rest of the hike down was pretty uneventful, but beautiful as usual. We lucked out with great weather all day and I would not recommend doing this route without a good weather forecast. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-08-25, By: jimmyolson01
Info: Impeccable condition on this gorgeous morning. Left the upper lake at 3:30am and caught the beginning of a stunning sunrise. I used the crossover approach and made the summit having not seen another person until I crossed Broken Hand Pass on the descent. There is annoying loose rock going up to Broken Hand Pass, but once you are on the Needle itself, your holds are strong and there is zero rockfall. The descent is much more challenging than the ascent, so make sure you can confidently retrace your steps. There is some notable exposure skirting around from the East to the West gully following the cross over the dihedral, but again, the rock is solid. A+ experience, my favorite climb yet undoubtedly 
Route: Ellingwood Arete/Ledges
Posted On: 2022-08-08, By: Been_Jammin
Info: Sweet route. Summer conditions. Good water source in about the middle of Broken Hand Pass. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-08-01, By: Belchfire
Info: Great day in the SahngreeZ playground. Love that interactive conglomerate rock, still test your holds!Incredibly fun, solid climb up east gully direct on Needle then ran down BH pass over to Crestone peak by Cottonwood lk. Solo in the clouds on the summit made the brain satisfied with this Monday. Then put big boy pants on and felt wild enough to run to East, then Northeast Crestone. What a sick scramble up NE. Watch your downclimb- one class 4-5 section not avoidable (as I found), rap anchor previously left slung on a rock on right of main dihedral crack to climb. Solo summits but handful of folks camping at lake and playing around up there.Clouds building before 11 but not threating until 2. Hailing and thundering (f*n wonderful but no shprise) came at about 330p, gnarly constant until around 6p? at higher elevations. That rock will be slick tomorrow. Left car at 340AM, back at 630P. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-07-08, By: cotezi
Info: Had the route all to ourselves yesterday. Posted some tips and pointers over on the Trip Reports section if interested (photos too). 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-07-05, By: Maricopa Mountaineer
Info: Hiked from the 2WD trailhead to South Colony lakes. It added about 2.7 miles and 1100 ft of elevation gain compared to the 4WD trailhead for a total of 3050ft and 7 miles, overall though not as tough as it seems and it took 3 hours. I camped slightly above the bottom lake...BIG mistake! I highly recommend not camping above tree line in a thunderstorm, worst camping experience thus far. Summiting Crestone Needle was Awesome though, the entire climb is in summer conditions and theres maybe one little square foot of snow you'll come across. I would be cautious about starting the climb following a rainy day because you're in gullies most of the time and there was a decent amount of water running down making the rock slippery and dangerous. Luckily though there are lots of ways to tackle the gullies so most of the wet sections are avoidable. I think the hardest part was crossing the dihedral so take your time with that and pay attention to the cairns because when you're coming down to the part where you previously crossed over into the west gully theres a little cairn that you turn LEFT at. DO NOT GO DOWN past that point. The summit was not windy at all and very dry. Note: If you don't have much experience with Class 3+ climbs then this will be more challenging. I've climbed longs (class 3) and sunlight peak (class 4) and Crestone Needle felt way more technical than either of them oddly enough, so just something to be careful of. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2022-06-29, By: sam_richardson7
Info: After the gendarme there's still some patches of snow but nothing worth bringing micro spikes for IMO. Crestone Peaks red gully still has some snow but again, nothing you'd need micro spikes for in my opinion. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: astranko
Info: Class 3 Route is free of difficult snow. Dihedral stepover has snow in the gully. All other snow is completely avoidable. Broken hand has some snow, but less than 200ft. A party did it with just ice axes, no traction. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: swesleyc7
Info: Crestone Needle is good to go. When hiking to the lakes, I would advise via the Crestone Needle route on the road, past the "emergency vehicle-only gate" (South side of lakes) vs. the Humbolt route through the forest as it is obliterated with downed trees. There are several snow fields leading up to Broken Hand Pass, so micro-spikes are advised. The BHP gully itself is filled with snow, which made it complicated when determining the route up, however ascending the center seemed best to avoid slipping and using exposed rock. After BHP, Crestone Needle's summit ascent has summer conditions and devoid of snow. 
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