Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  08/02/2005
Modified:  03/26/2006
Date Climbed:   07/31/2005
Author:  doumall
 Crestone Needle via 11100 next to Cottonwood Creek  

After climbing the Peak the previous day, Debbie and I started to make our way back up toward Cottonwood Basin from our 11100 camp at 6:30am. This time we stayed on the right side of Cottonwood Basin ascending grassy boulder fields as we made our way to Cottonwood Lake. Amazing views through here:

On the way up Broken Hand Pass, Crestone the Friendly Goat passed within arms reach of us on his way down to the lake (he followed the trail religiously). From the pass the trail is obvious to the entrance into the eastern couloir.

The climbing on the Needle is even better than Crestone Peak, providing plenty of optional class 4 pitches. You can stay right to maintain a class 3 route. Here is Debbie climbing in the lower section of the first couloir:

The crossover point to the western couloir was marked with a rock wrapped in orange tape. The crossover has the most difficult climbing and exposure on the route. It was hard for me to accept its class 3 rating (I thought it was class 4) after doing Pyramid the previous week. The western couloir is narrower and looser, but very fun. Here is a pic of the western couloir:

This was a great summit to reach. After hiking down we packed up and hiked out, reaching the trailhead at 4pm. Getting separate 3000 climbs on these peaks was well worth it and the Cottonwood Creek approach is absolutely beautiful. I will definitely be making my way back for the traverse after I finish the 14ers this summer.

The eastern couloir can easily be ascended all the way to the summit without increasing the difficulty of the route by much, if any. I am surprised it isn't the standard way to do the Needle.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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