Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Crestone Peak  -  14,294 feet
Date Posted:  07/04/2011
Date Climbed:   07/02/2011
Author:  RJansen77

 Great Weekend in the Crestones  

We successfully summited the Peak and Needle this weekend on Saturday and Sunday respectively. There have been quite a few questions on the forum about these peaks recently, and here's what we found:

Broken Hand Pass: This has more snow than the Red Gully or Needle route right now, and there are three snowfields that must be crossed below the pass. Unless the area gets a freeze overnight, you can walk up them without crampons or an axe as there are good boot ladders through them. If there area did freeze though I would want some traction as there are exposed rocks lower in the snowfields and an uncontrolled slide would not end well. High in the pass where there isn't snow, loose rock abounds and a helmet is important. The other side of the pass is dry.

Crestone Peak: The Red Gully (on Saturday, 7/2) had three snowfields that were avoidable for the most part. I used trekking poles in the gully and they were helpful for balance, especially on the descent. As for the snow we stayed left, left and right of the snowfields on the ascent and I probably took 50 steps tops in snow total. There is abundant water running down the gully from the melt but you never have to get very close to it. The upper 1/3 of the gully has more loose rock and a helmet is definitely something you'll want. The snow is melting fast though so this beta could be out of date by the end of this week.

Crestone Needle: The standard route is primarily dry except for Broken Hand Pass. From the top of BHP it was an easy traverse with some fun scrambling to the base of the first gully. We climbed the gully until about 75 feet above the first snowfield, to where the gully forms an obvious dihedral, and then scrambled left over the big rock rib to the second gully. This was easily the most exposed move on the climb and if you fall on this rib it would not end well. Also, when crossing the rib it is very important to take a mental picture of where you made this traverse to you don't end up descending too far in the second gully. The second gully is snow free to the summit, and the climbing is good on stable rock.

I'm sorry I'm unable to integrate pictures into the text, but I will figure it out shortly. If you have any more questions about these peaks feel free to PM me. Have fun and be safe out there everyone!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great work!
07/04/2011 16:55
We met you guys at the top of BHP on Saturday - we were coming down off the Needle. Glad you were able to get it on Sunday. If you get in touch with one of my partners, BobbyFinn, he can send you a cool shot of your group as we were looking toward you from the Needle. Congrats on a solid weekend.


Thanks for the update!
07/04/2011 17:03
Yes, we sure were hoping to get some current info of this area. We had originally hoped to hike them this weekend, yet wondered if it would be too crowded. Plus the mixed reviews of conditions were reason to pause. Sounds like a helmet is a must and an ice axe and trekking poles would be wise. Pictures 2 & 3 show quite a bit of snow.


07/05/2011 14:36
Enjoyed the TR, great photos of the conditions too, thanks! I, too, enjoy a good brew after a nice climb, and none more so than Breckenridge Avalanche. Cheers! 8)


Too Cool!
07/06/2011 00:08
Nice work Robert! Glad you guys made it to the Needle. Your report of the peaks is spot on! I saw the last picture thinking you guys were not old enough to drink beer, then I remember you said you were 22! 8)

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