Crestone Needle  
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2016-11-12  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-11-12, By: STIBungy
Info: Temps are dropping. Woke up at the 2wd lot with temps at 19 this morning. South Colony Lakes are starting to freeze over. There's enough snow on the upper half of BHP for me to need microspikes on the way up and down. Crestone Needle's east gully was mostly dry with a few snow patches that were avoidable. There was some snow on the crossover to the west gully so we went up and down the east gully. I forgot to add, there are 2 shortcut routes between the Crestone trails in the Humboldt trail just east of Lower South Colony Lakes. I've drawn approximate locations of the 2 shortcuts. 
2016-10-29  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-10-30, By: Dean82
Info: Nice and dry. The only snow was just near the top of Broken Hand Pass. Nothing to worry about. The traverse was nice and dry too. 
2016-10-23  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-10-23, By: Beas
Info: There is some soft snow that is mostly avoidable as you scramble up to Broken Hand Pass. Aside from that and a few icy sections near the trailhead, the Needle is dry. Humboldt and the Peak are in great shape as well. 
2016-10-22  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-10-23, By: fakejox
Info: Agree with tsand's report below, and concur that microspikes were definitely useful on the descent from broken hand pass. I've attached a few more pics for those interested in the route before the next storm. 
2016-10-22  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-10-23, By: tsand
Info: Great conditions overall. Shallow layer of frozen snow in places on BH Pass. Didn't use spikes going up but did on the way down after slipping a lot. ~ 4:10 TH to summit. The crux for me was the spot at the east gully dihedral where the climber is pictured in the description. The descent crossover point is well-marked now. Also, KC Avenue looked pretty clear. 
2016-10-16  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-10-16, By: James2015
Info: Super fun day, although a brutal wind once over Broken Hand. Made it up to the 4wd in our Crosstrek, the road is rough but we've done it a couple times (fine, just one spot where there's an exposed drainage pipe that each time we had to take a couple attempts at -- go further right than you'd think). The Needle itself was bone dry, except for a tiny trickle in parts of the gully, great conditions other than the wind. Some snow and ice on the north side of Broken Hand, I had microspikes and used them -- probably not essential, but made it a lot nicer (an ice axe would be overkill). Might've been the only person to summit other than two SAR guys going for a couple of climbers who summited the arete late and spent an involuntary night on the summit. I didn't see anyone else the entire day other than a second SAR team assembling down below. The rock is so beautiful and bomber I didn't see any reason to switch gullies, maybe it got to be class 4 but didn't feel like it, so much fun to play on. Conditions could change at any point, but awesome this weekend... 
2016-10-02  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-10-02, By: Brian Thomas
Info: The only snow on the route today was on the last few hundred feet below Broken Hand Pass. Microspikes would have been helpful, which I did not bring, but was able to carefully cross the snow without. The snow was not melted out or softened much on descent at about 2pm. The east and west gullies had some trickles of running water but otherwise very dry. 
2016-09-09  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-09-11, By: okmtngirl
Info: Weather was excellent. Needle was dry except a small stream of water in the lower East Gully. The crossover point from East to West was difficult to find. We did not find a cairn or green bandana as noted in earlier reports. There was still a red ribbon in the West Gully marking the crossover point. 
2016-08-28  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-08-29, By: Kdudziak
Info: First note, Mountain Lions. I'm pretty sure we saw two, though note both times it was pitch black and we could only make out the eyes. However, because there were numerous deer encounters as well, I felt we had a pretty good reference- dumb, doe eyes versus intense, low to the ground, deliberate movements. As for the climb, there's been a lot of precipitation in the past week and the mountain is starting to hold snow, or more specifically, what I think is graupel. What the 14ers description describes as the crux of the Broken Hand Pass Climb was filled with snow, which presented more of a problem on the way down when it much softer (aka slippery). In reality, most climbers didn't seem to bothered by it as I was. In dry conditions it wouldn't be an issue, but section doesn't have the greatest hand holds and while stepping down is totally doable, stepping on to a slanted, slippery surface was more than I wanted to deal with at that point in the day. For the rest of the route, water and snow was easy enough to avoid. We had some trouble finding our way from the top of the pass to the bottom of the East Gully because there's a couple branching paths, but most of them seem to lead you there eventually. I'd say just pick a path and keep heading toward the peak. Many reports mention a green bandana on the crossover from the East to West gully, and either me and the rest of the climbers that day did this at the wrong point or it's no longer there. I did see a rock wrapped in a tiny red ribbon where I crossed over. The report tells you to drop down into the West Gully, but it was full of snow. We stayed high (to climber's right) and didn't have any problems. Once you reach the top of the West Gully, I felt the hard work was behind us and the final stretch was easier and was less exposed than the two gullies. On the way down through the East Gully, you'll likely notice a trail on climber's left that get's you off the gully higher off than where you likely entered the gully. We decided to not take the trail because like many of the trails, we couldn't really tell where it went, but once we made it back to South Colony lakes, we found out that a lot of climbers took that route and found their way back to the BHP without too much trouble. It saves you from losing and have to regain some elevation and from having to descend the last part of the East Gully, which I thought was the worst part of the descent. Overall, great day, beautiful route, and lots of animal sightings. 
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2016-08-28  Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2016-08-28, By: bdloftin77
Info: From the Red Gully on Crestone Peak, to near the Black Gendarme, snow is not an issue. There is some hard snow (10 am) below the Black Gendarme that can't be avoided. Some steps are kicked in. The class 5.2 move is slightly more tricky with snow above and below the rocks, but we were able to do it. Snow fills the gully to the right of the Black Gendarme that you climb up. There are some steps kicked in, but care needs to be taken. From above the Knife Edge to below the final class 4 crux wall up the Needle, there is snow on the ledges that is hard to avoid, and care needs to be taken. The class 4 crux wall is dry and snow free. I made the traverse without any equipment. However, microspikes and an ice axe would be recommended. (some people in my group brought microspikes, but voiced that they would have felt safer with an ice axe as well). Snow was... at least a foot deep in places. (estimate) It probably won't melt out over the next few days, but might perhaps in more time. Comment if you have any questions, or would like me to post some pictures. Thanks. 
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2016-08-14  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-08-17, By: Rambler
Info: Needle was a blast. Up through willows, boulders, and a gully to the top of BHP. Pretty loose stuff, not fun on way down. East gully easily found and ascended solid rock on right side. Obvious crossover spot at crack was marked with carins and yellow surveyors tape. Crossover move is akward and prob the crux. Place you climb over rib to west gully marked with green bandana and carin. Also was a fixed rope from a recent rescue stil up there. Fun climbing from there to summit. Easy return over same route. Hated coming down pass back to camp. Pretty wiped. Overall awesome climb though 
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2016-08-12  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-08-15, By: bjbatchelor
Info: Trail conditions were clear to the summit. Mosquitoes have subsided around the South Colony Lakes. Take extra care coming down the correct gully from the summit. There have been two hiking accidents on the descent in the last month. We used directions from this website and didn't have much problem making it to the top and down safely. 
2016-07-18  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-07-21, By: lukedog
Info: My group climbed the Needle, the Peak and Humboldt on Sunday and Monday. Humboldt and the Needle were basically totally snow free. There were a few small snow fields on Broken Hand Pass, but you could get away without any snow gear. We were happy to have ice axe and microspikes in the Red Gully for a larger snow field near the top. Biggest news for us was the mosquitoes. Camping was flat out miserable. We really enjoyed the peaks and bugs were mostly absent up high, but all of the camping areas, areas near the lakes and anyplace low at all was inundated with mosquitoes. 
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2016-07-09  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-07-11, By: CraigB2013
Info: The route is dry except for some snow in the dihedral and the West Gully cross over point. We opted to climb the class 4 variation to the top of the East Gully which made it more difficult to find the entrance of the West Gully when coming down. The West Gully is small. Maybe 10 ft wide . The gully to the west of the West gully (the West West Gully, as it has been called) is as large as the East Gully and starts out class 3 climbing but then cliffs out. There are two cairns at the entrance of the West Gully but are easy to mis going down from the summit. 
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2016-07-07  Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-07-08, By: TallGrass
Info: Photos of Broken Hand Pass from South Colony Lakes on way out from Challenger (Horn Creek). Sorry for the lousy cell phone pics, but camera battery dead. Could see a clear track across the snow. Would take axe and traction, spikes if not 'pons. Met one guy going up the old 4x4 road who went back just to get his spikes. Bring mosquito gear for the hike in and camp. Many spots along the trail to Humboldt between the lakes and the old 4x4 road are muddy, underwater, or muck. 
2016-07-05  Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2016-07-06, By: CoHi591
Info: Completed the Traverse yesterday from Peak to Needle, it was one of the most epic (and challenging) days I've ever had in the mountains. We had beautiful weather all day. Good thing, because it took us a lot longer than planned. There is still snow on Broken Hand pass and all up in the Red Gully. We had ice axes and microspikes and were generally fine but struggled a bit and I wished I had crampons once or twice in the Gully. You can avoid quite a bit of it if you choose but it's probably easier to just go up the snow if you have the gear. I would say an ice axe is necessary. Getting up to Crestone Peak was a blast, we struggled a lot with route finding when starting the Traverse though. Without an altimeter and just bad guessing as to how far from the top of the Gully we were, we essentially wandered up and down for a while looking for the cairns. We didn't find them, went on anyway and met up with them again at the second red gully. There was no more significant snow to contend with from this point on. We found the climbing very fun for the rest of the traverse. The descent from the Needle was our big challenge of the day because we wound up switching from west gully to east gully too early and wound up doing a lot of class 4 downclimbing. Lessons learned. The standard route on the needle is entirely snow free. Overall, beautiful day. 
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2016-06-19  Route: Broken Hand Pass
Posted On: 2016-06-20, By: GregMiller
Info: Broken Hand Pass still has a lot of snow (as seen from Humboldt). 
2016-04-30  Route: Sangre de Christos in General
Posted On: 2016-04-30, By: pfiore1
Info: This condition's report is for the central Sangre de Christos in general, no peak in specific, pretty much from Electric Peak to the north and Tijeras to the south, many microclimates and variables in between. Most of the November to February winter has blown its snowstorms with average wind moving from the west and north towards the east and south, therefore wind loading most south, east and obviously southeast aspects, most cornices overhang on east sides of ridges, not all but most. Also, due to the winds, most north couloirs that are usually filled in may be bare with deeper couloirs facing east aspects. March had long periods of warmth and sun (plus wind) and began a spring like surface hoar crust. However, the April 16th storm brought several feet of heavy wet snow with very deep wind loads. The warmer and sunnier following days caused many natural wet slabs, mostly on south to east facing slopes 30-50 degrees. During the week of around 4/20 to April 27th, I saw multiple naturally triggered spring slough slides (small to medium) and several wet slabs, some that were deep enough to release at depth hoar and to the warm ground (some debris included dirt, mud and rocks). Then another week of warm and sunny weather began to consolidate the pack again. However, soon after around April 29th, the Sangres received another one to two feet of wet heavy snow, more on wind loaded aspects and it is still continuing as of today, April 30th. The CAIC website's forecasts have ceased for the season. My opinion, much of the Sangre's south to east, and most likely all aspects for now, are highly likely for new wet slabs, potentially very large on wind loaded aspects. It is forecast to be warm and sunny again by mid to end of this week. FYI...Music Pass has been unapproachable beyond about 9,100' near the USFS boundary for some time due to drifts, South Colony also has large drifts less than one mile past the lower lot (recommend parking at lower lot for at least a couple more warm sunny weeks), Hermit Pass has large drifts just passed the USFS boundary line around 9,200' and Lake Creek was clear to Rainbow Lake as of one week ago but not sure about now. Hope this updated info helps some people with their attended plans, or cancellation of plans. 
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2016-04-24  Route: n/a
Posted On: 2016-04-25, By: nsaladin
Info: Went up South Colony, and was able to get within 1/8th mile of the Rainbow trail turnoff (4Runner with Chains) before finding snow that was a little deeper than I wanted to try and mess with. Attached are a picture of the east side of the group, as well as what the road and trail looks like (on and off) from a little below the lakes all the way down to well before the rainbow trail turnoff. A sled has been up the road, and almost to the turnoff for the needle, so the trail is well packed, but warmer temperatures will warrant snowshoes/skis 
2016-02-16  Route: South Couloir
Posted On: 2016-02-16, By: dubcohn
Info: Does anyone know what conditions are like in the South Couloir of the Needle? Interested in skiing it once avy conditions stabilize a little more. 
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