Log In 

Crestone Needle

Most Recent Condition Updates
Updates  
Route: South Face
Posted On: 6/20/2024, By: seanhouseworth
Info: Broken Hand Pass was still full of snow, but it was sloppy by 9am even with cloud cover. We had spikes and axes and still needed to be super careful on the steep portion. Rest of route is good to go. 
3
1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 5/23/2024, By: jmanner
Info: Didnt ski the Needle but got several good shots of it. 
5
3 1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 4/15/2024, By: aksean22
Info: Linked ski descents of Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak on Saturday. Started from Colony Lake 2WD TH. dry for about 3/4 mile and patchy for anther 1/2 mile. Still lots of snow on the road past that but it's melting fast. Looks like the trail has seen a lot of traffic recently. A long, uneventful skin up to the lakes, firm snow up Broken Hand Pass. The snow climb up Needle was a lot of fun. There's two short waterfall sections near the bottom that we bypassed on climbers right. Airy ridge ski off the summit back to the face. The upper face was firm but skied well. The choke is getting pretty narrow and we had to take skis off for a short section near the bottom where it's not wide enough. I've read a few TR's where people brought a rope, presumably for the waterfalls at the bottom, but we did not and had no issues downclimbing. Having a second ice tool was helpful but not mandatory. Skied corn back to BHP and decided that going for Crestone Peak now sounded better than dragging our butts up that road again. Wind was keeping everything cool, so a quick ski down and a never ending booter later and we were on the summit. Kinda rocky off the top. Traversing the face from summit to the top of red gully was super icy. Snow in the gully was heavy, which is probably to be expected when you drop in at 4:30pm, but it's still very filled in. There's a short rock/ice waterfall in the middle that we had to downclimb. The spookiest part of the day was the road out, which was torn up from lots of foot traffic (major props to whoever post-holed a solid mile past the 4WD TH) and was refrozen, which made it really easy to go fast and really hard to stop/stay in any kind of control. Ended up being about 9000' and 19 miles RT. 
20
1
10 7
Route: South Face
Posted On: 10/16/2023, By: fitchmt
Info: Trail is snow free up to the start of the pass. Broken Hand Pass is mostly covered in snow and ice - definitely bring micro spikes and an ice axe. The east gully is clear all the way to the top. 
3
4 3
Route: South Face
Posted On: 10/8/2023, By: marcthomson
Info: Summited the needle 10/7 via Cottonwood Creek trailhead. There was minor snow patchy snow between Cottonwood lake and the gully. The gully contained some patchy snow and ice, producing small streams of water. Most of the snow in the gully was avoidable, but there were a few small patches that would be annoying to climb around. It looked like there was some snow on the way up Broken Hand pass. 
3
3 2
Route: South Face
Posted On: 10/8/2023, By: jway2952
Info: Did not attempt, but took some pics that may prove useful to folks. 
4
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/30/2023, By: Riverxyz11
Info: The road is in good driving conditions. No high clearance needed. I day hike and summited both Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle from the Cottonwood Trailhead. The first 3.1/2 miles of the Trailhead are in good conditions. And then at 11,200 elevation the next 3/4 of a mile is not in great condition. (Long pants a must) The willows are overgrown making the trail difficult to find. Fortunately its pretty intuitive and you can pretty much just walk up straight up to meet the Needle/Peak trail. With the help of the gps. (There are also some big bolders) I did the Peak first and then went to do the standard route of the Needle. By doing the Cottonwood Trailhead I avoided the broken hand pass. -Which I heard from others hikes who came from SCL it had some snow still. Total time took me 12:21 hours from 6:30am to 7ish. Successful hike but definitely super challenging to hike bothe peaks in one day. Total elevation gain about 7,200 feet. Last but not least, I had to run a few times to compensate for trail finding and some route finding. Nothing too bad. 
1
1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/25/2023, By: skythian
Info: Did Needle from Cottonwood Lake. I think I saw swilson753 on my hike up the easy side of BHP. No snow for the entire route from Cottonwood trailhead to the top of Needle, although you'll see snow on some of the other mountains from the trailhead. Don't worry. The Willows in Cottonwood require a lot of bushwacking, but other than that, conditions are still great for this approach. 
7
5 1
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 9/25/2023, By: swilson753
Info: shapovalovm's previous CR is spot on. I just wanted to add that the 5.2 bulge move was the scariest section of the traverse for me as a short person (5'2"). Falling here would be very dangerous with the snow above and below it. I used spikes above and below the move but took them off for the bulge move itself since the rock was dry. The headwall is as steep as advertised but still dry. Rap station webbing looks fairly new. 
1
1
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 9/24/2023, By: shapovalovm
Info: A few more details (and some pics, see Peak report) on top of Jake's report (we actually climbed the traverse together). 2WD parking->Peak->Needle and back. Broken Hand Pass has minimal snow in the upper ~100'. Spikes will be useful, but I did not use them neither up or down (even though I had them in my pack). Red Gully up the Peak has decent amount of ice and water, but most of it is a bit to the side and I never had to even step on the wet rock. The route is Easy class 3 at best, mostly class 2. The traverse is dry class 2 until 5.2 bulge and that's where fun begins. The bulge is pretty easy (but I agree it probably is 5.2), especially if you are tall (I'm 6'1''). There was some snow below and above (maybe 10 steps in snow total) and around the knife's edge right after the bulge, but nothing serious. Coming up to the wall and the wall itself are 100% dry. The exposure on the wall is real, but the rock is super solid so I had a blast, but if you are scared of exposure/heights it might not be that pleasant. I found this traverse way easier than El D->Wilson (others in my party disagree), mostly because there's almost no loose rock, everything is concrete-solid. Navigation here is also very easy, there are cairns everywhere. Going down the Needle is completely dry as well and the rock is solid as well. Haven't done a single class 4 move there, but solid class 3. 5:45am start, 5:50pm finish. Great long day! 
1
4
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 9/23/2023, By: JakeBortClimb
Info: Did the needle via peak today, a little snow in the 5.2 couloir but overall really solid. Go get it before it freezes up. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 9/23/2023, By: JakeBortClimb
Info: Did the needle via peak today, a little snow in the 5.2 couloir but overall really solid. Go get it before it freezes up. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/20/2023, By: quandary34
Info: As I mentioned in my CR for the Peak, Broken Hand Pass is holding some substantial snow right now. Otherwise, by the time I reached the Needle around 10am today, it was essentially in summer conditions. Some snow and ice remained in the dihedral, but the East Gully only had avoidable, small snow patches. The traverse looked very icy from the top of the Peak, so I opted to do both standard routes. Go get it before the next storm! 
3
4
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/19/2023, By: EmmaClaire5280
Info: Summited both Crestone Peak and the Needle yesterday! The entire upper portion of broken hand pass is covered in snow and icy conditions, making it difficult to descend. However, the other side of the pass by cottonwood lake is snow free. We arrived at the red gully around 5 am, and the waterfall was a stream of ice, making crossing difficult and route finding a bit more tedious. However, when the sun hit the gully, all was well and the ice melted off. Heading up the needle, there was no ice in sight and a beautiful windless summit. Route finding was not as difficult as people made it out to be, however do your research beforehand as so many people have died and gotten lost off route! Definitely my two favorite peaks I have climbed yet. Enjoy everyone! 44/58 
9
4 13
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/5/2023, By: mountainero
Info: Beautiful day in the Sangres. Broken hand pass was the worst part of the day, and even that didn't seem as bad as last I went up it. Climbing was amazing throughout, save the last ~150 feet to the ridge which was significantly looser. We expected intense route finding, and came prepared for it, but it seemed to us the only two areas of consequence were the spots you move climbers left to avoid higher class terrain, and both sections were well cairned. Maybe we were overprepared, but it made for an amazingly enjoyable day and I'd recommend the same for others. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 8/19/2023, By: HikesInGeologicTime
Info: Last report I remember reading had some lingering snow below Broken Hand Pass. The route is now completely snow-free, though there is water running down East Gully below the dihedral. A note on the solidness of the gully: the hand- and footholds are indeed stable, plentiful, and grippy. However, due to what I would guess is the relative recency of this route being made the standard, there are still plenty of loose rocks sitting on top of all those holds and platforms that have yet to be knocked clean the way many other standard routes are. Accept that you will be setting some free no matter how careful you are and wait until anyone below you is out of your direct line of fire. Also, be prepared to yell warnings for a while when a given rock keeps tumbling long after you think it would have come to rest. A group descending at the same time we were stuck to the wall on climbers right instead of dropping into the gully proper at any point and seemed to have an easier time with the initial summit descent than we did before we found a decent place to exit the ravine ourselves. 
7
3
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 8/11/2023, By: Lucky Day
Info: Summer conditions, and easy to follow. We went from peak to needle. Some snow in the red gulley, but easily avoidable. There were tons of people camping at the lakes, but only saw a few people on either peak. 
1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 8/9/2023, By: skyrme17
Info: Summited via the east gully. The section above the chockstones (https://www.14ers.com/routes/cnee1/medium/cnee1_20.jpg?lastupd=202210220600) has a lot of loose rock and the gully is narrow. This seemed the sketchiest part. It is somewhat similar to the red gully upper section of the Crestone Peak, but that gully is much wider. The east gully splits somewhat above the dihedral and the class 4 move described in the route description, and there is a rib that goes all the way to summit ridge. There are some cairns along this rib, and the rock is solid. I don't know if the rib stays class 3/4 to summit ridge, but if it does, it may be a better alterative than reentering the gully after the class 4 move (https://www.14ers.com/routes/cnee1/medium/cnee1_18.jpg?lastupd=202210220600). The third picture illustrates my question, but please don't assume these potential routes go. 
2
3 1
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 8/5/2023, By: Logan5280
Info: Packed in on 8/3, and did the traverse peak to needle on 8/4. There are tons of campsites near the turn to Broken Hand Pass, and despite the few mosquitoes, there was a surprising lack of bugs at camp. BH pass wasn't too bad in the dark, it just requires a little caution near the top. Our group disagreed slightly on which gully was correct for the ascent up CP; make sure to follow the trail and cairns to looker's left up the red gully, and don't ascend the gully halfway through the traverse. We quickly identified the correct gully, but a route line on a gps may be helpful if it's still slightly dark out. The red gully has a trickle of a waterfall on the right side for the bottom half, but it's mostly avoidable. There's a snowfield near 13.7k that can be mostly avoided, and doesn't require spikes. The summit ridge scramble is dry and in good condition, although it was certainly novel for it to snow briefly on the summit in august. Aside from the red gully snowfield, the entire traverse is dry. A helmet is certainly a good idea since there's quite a bit of loose rock lurking around. The exposure is real near the top, but the rock quality is excellent. A real highlight of the day was being buzzed by 2 fighter jets while on the summit of the needle. The needle descent is dry, except for a small trickle near the bottom of the gully. Keep an eye out for the correct turn to leave the gully. Overall, an excellent experience in the mountains 
2
Route: South Face
Posted On: 7/28/2023, By: Pcypher
Info: Summer conditions other than about 30 feet of snow covered trail as you get to final approach below broken hand pass; we didnt use traction but I had poles. Small area of ice at crux move getting up broken hand that could be avoided. 

Return to the main Peak Conditions page