Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Crestone Peak  -  14,294 feet
Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  08/07/2013
Modified:  08/09/2013
Date Climbed:   08/01/2013
Author:  arianna2

 Crestone Trilogy  

Basic Stats:
4wd trailhead to Lower South Colony Lakes – 2 hours 15 minutes (around 4 miles and 1800 ft elevation gain)
Crestone Needle – Start Time 5:15 am, Summit at 8am, lunch then back to camp by 1130am = 6+ hours
Crestone Peak – Start Time 5:15 am, Summit at 9:50, back to camp by 3:15 = 10 hours
Humboldt – Start Time 5:15 am, Summit at 7:15, back to camp by 930, packed up and hiked back to the trailhead by 12:50 = 6+ hours hiking time

We planned this back packing trip for a year. Luckily, we got an extra day to do things a little more leisurely. We aren’t the go-getters of the hiking world, but we ain’t too shabby either. We had to drive 6 hours to the trailhead from Grand Junction on Wednesday. The road isn’t too bad but we have a Tahoe. We can see how smaller cars could make it if they are careful. The hike up was quite beautiful and a bit warm. Still some nice wildflowers out there. Landed an awesome camping spot luckily. Image

Day 1 – the Crestone Needle.

Broken Hand Pass is great. There are big cairns up to the base of it and then you just find whichever way over it that you would like to go. It still took close to a couple hours to get over it and get to a great view of our objective.


The conglomerate rock is so cool. It is very pretty and so many variations in color. The rock was very stable and had great hand holds. We really didn’t have a hard time. It could have been much harder route finding if we hadn’t seen where to cross over from the East gully by the one climber that was in front of us or if there wasn’t big yellow tape on several landmarks. Especially when we came back down, it could have been pretty hard to tell where to get out of the West gully if it weren’t for two brightly colored cairns. Some people might really enjoy the difficulties of route finding and not appreciated those cairns, but I sure did. I rather climb than be worried about whether or not I am in the right place or not. Thin fog/clouds came rolling in pretty early but didn’t seem too threatening.
starting the east gully

crossing over from the east gully

hard to see in this pic but there is yellow tape on the cairn

looking up the west gully. There is red and yellow tape on a couple cairns at the start of the west gully


We didn’t have great views from the summit but the weather made up for that the next day. Image

Coming down off the summit, make sure to go towards the left. Do try to remember where you come out of the west gully and climb up a class 3 trail to the summit. This area can be a little tricky. Image
coming down from the summit onto a little trail that leads to the west gully

Down climbing wasn’t too bad. The worst of it seems to be the traverse from the West back to the East gully. Image
coming back to the east gully

the hardest move. Not too far of a fall though if you fell.

The weather cleared nicely and we got some beautiful views on the way back down. Image

We stopped for lunch after getting down off Broken Hand Pass. The marmot we named Willy decided to see how close he could get to us. I’d like to think that most people don’t feed these animals. I think they just associate people with crumbs and yummy urine. Image

no zoom on this pic


We did do some fly fishing after we got back to camp. The cuts were really on the bite that day. If you do some fishing when you go up there, definitely don’t assume that you would be the only one. Fishing seems to be quite popular at this lake. I can only hope that most people catch and release so the habitat continues to thrive. Image

So awesome to accomplish this climb.

Day 2 – Crestone Peak.

Broken Hand Pass is great. There are big cairns up to the base of it and then you just find whichever way over it that you would like to go. It still took close to a couple hours to get over it as mentioned before. This time we looked at the path all the way past Cottonwood Lake to get to the infamous red gully.

The red gully is long but still fun. The rock was a little more slippery depending on where you choose to go up. I tended to want to go up the right side where there were bigger rocks with more scrambling. Craig started on the left where the rock is flatter but then came over to the right. There was a fair amount of running water in the middle.

There was a lot of rubble to pick thru at the top third of the gully. No one was above us so we didn't have to worry too much about rock fall. However, this did become an issue when downclimbing. We tried to be very careful to climbers below us.

Once you get to the top of the gully, you look left and then you have a WTF moment. But when you take a few steps on the most logical route to the left side and peek around the corner you will see where to go to get to the summit. Those were fun ledges.

Beautiful weather and views at the top today.

Nice lunch spot at the lake before the grueling climb up to Broken Hand Pass and then back down to camp.

Day 3 - Humboldt

Broken Hand Pass is great… No wait – we didn’t have to do Broken Hand Pass again. Yea! Getting up to the saddle is like climbing stairs for an hour. Such beautiful alpenglow but it didn’t last for long. We were pretty lucky to get it at all because the clouds were pretty thick this morning.

After 2 full days of climbing, our legs were rubber, but we made it.


It was a pretty hike back down to camp.

The smell of our socks and shoes must have called out to the herd because we got some visitors while we were taking down camp.

Back to the truck. Always sad to end a great back packing trip but it felt like a great accomplishment to finish these three 14ers.

I can't add more than 30 pics, so I am going to leave the humboldt tr I did earlier and name it something else. If someone can let me know how to add more pictures, then I will consolidate this report as well.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

08/07/2013 21:47
Looks like a good trip. Nice cutthroat!


Very nice!
08/07/2013 21:54
Too bad about the lack of visibility at the summit but the clouds do sometimes make for some great pictures. LOVED your image #15! Thanks for your post!


08/07/2013 23:56
TR's and beta! And a hearty congratulations on completing the Crestone Group. This trio takes a lot of planning and perseverance to execute, well done!

I would however like to kindly suggest you combine your trip reports into one large report when applicable. This allows for everyone's reports to remain on the front page for a longer period of time, ensuring that fellow forum members don't miss TRs as some of us only log on once a week or so. It also consolidates information within Bill's rapidly expanding TR database. Anyways, just a suggestion.

Again, congrats and good luck in your future peak endeavors!


Very good!
08/08/2013 14:39
You have some nice shots of the cross over between the gullys! Nice job.


Follow up to my previous comment:
08/09/2013 15:32

In response to your post below: My intent was not to ”show you what you did wrong”. At the end of the day you're right, the accomplishment of the climb you pulled off is what's important. I was just trying to inform you in as kind a manner as possible of the recent forum discussion regarding this topic. I used to post separate TRs as well but there are just so many going up these days I try to combine when possible. I wasn't trying to be rude, just inform! Congrats again.


To those of you trying to help
08/09/2013 15:33
I get your point. I have gotten a couple message about what I did wrong or could do better with this report. I think it is kind of sad to accomplish something like this, want to share it, and then have to worry every response is something I did wrong.

Just as an FYI, I did this because when I am researching how to do a particular peak, I have to wade through 3 to 5 different peaks in one report to find the one peak I am looking for.

Promise, won't do it again. I appreciate the comments though and will learn from them. Will try to consolidate them


Thanks benners
08/09/2013 15:37
I agree, there are a lot of reports. I tried to consolidate but had more than 30 pictures. Let me know if you know of a way to add more than 30 pictures, otherwise I am just going to leave Humboldt the way it is.


08/09/2013 15:56
I wouldn't worry about it. Just leave it!

Many people use a photo hosting site and link from outside to get more than 30 pictures in a TR, but that can be a hastle. I appreciate your open-mindedness and again I didn't mean for my suggestion to overshadow your climb. I feel bad now .


Nice Trio
08/09/2013 22:34
As it was one trip, it's easier for me to follow without having to locate another TR to find the hike-in or follow up. Interesting to read another's approach to this multi-peak group. As far as the 30-photo limit, it's easy to get around (my last one had 119) by just uploading them to a photo-sharing site in one go (no 10-at-a-time limit, lots of free ones out there) and then just hotlinking to them. Photobucket even makes it a one-click http:// or for URL-linked BBCode that you can just paste in-line to the report. You've got some great photos! I know it can be hard to choose.

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