Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  10/17/2008
Modified:  12/13/2008
Date Climbed:   09/27/2008
Author:  JB99
 A Birthday Gift on Humboldt  

At the start of summer 2008 I had a list of mountains and tentatively planned out our trips. I wanted to get to each range for at least a day or two but the Sangres trip was canceled at the last minute due to weather and two lazy brothers so it didn't look like we'd get there. When I requested a few days off for my birthday though I set my eyes back on the Sangres.

We arrived at a nice campsite near the top of S. Colony road at around 11:30PM and went to sleep right away. The next morning I woke up with a headache and hit sleep a few too many times. We climbed out of bed around 8AM and I knew that our chances for a summit we're slim. We had planned on attempting Crestone Peak but I knew now we would have a better and safer chance at Humboldt. We got to the trailhead around 9:30AM and set off, here I am admiring the view of the Needle from a short way in.

Humboldt is a cool pyramid looking mountain and was now our target for the day.

The weather and our timing weren't looking to be so great and as we passed upper S. Colony Lake snow started to fall. The Needle-Peak traverse framed an awesome background.

As we got closer to Humboldt's ridge we heard the rumble of thunder and the folks ahead of us turned around. We decided that we would wait here for a minute and see what the weather decided to do. The kids coming down said it wasn't looking to good and the rest of their large group caught up to us here. After a few minutes we decided to make our own call and headed to the ridge. The view when we got there wasn't too promising but the weather coming our way looked alright so we pushed on.

Then on the ridge we ran into some folks coming down from the summit, terrified. I heard one of them mention she had done two of these but none of them looked too prepared. They stopped to sternly recommend to us that we turn around because of what they had experienced on top, buzzing cairns and trekking poles. Now I appreciate helpful beta from fellow hikers, sometimes I'll even ask for it but don't tell me what to do. Here we have an obviously inexperienced group who made a bad decision about when to summit and scared themselves. Good, a lesson probably well learned. At the same time you have myself and Jessica, moderately experienced in regard to hiking 14ers, well prepared, constantly evaluating the weather around us and headed toward us and these people practically grabbed us to keep us from heading up the mountain. Excuse my rant but my point is, pass on information if you are asked, or if you feel you must, but I'll let you make your decisions and please leave me to mine.

We were only on the ridge to evaluate the weather ourselves in the first place and decided that we would need to drop below the ridge and wait for another 30 mins or so. After a few snacks and the main bit of the storm passing we left some water and the trekking poles and started moving up again. The view this time was much more promising.

The view earlier.

Looking toward the Crestones before.

And looking toward the Crestones during our summit attempt.

Once you top out on the summit ridge you pass the false summit and find the true summit shortly after. Jessica in classic style said at the false summit, "I'll just wait here." I wasn't having that though, the summit is a hundred yards away and after some convincing here she is approaching the true summit.

I don't think we needed to because we didn't go down this way but we found some provocative moves on the left/north side of the ridge before we finally reached the summit proper. My 25th separate 14er summit on my 25th birthday, couldn't have planned it better.


I wonder how many people have taken this picture?

The weather on the summit was perfect for us, here is what the people who felt they were in a good position to give strong advice to us summited in.
I would have been scared too, I wouldn't have continued up into it either though.

On the other hand, here is the weather we enjoyed while up top, alone.

We relaxed for awhile, I read the birthday card my dad wrote to me and took a few pictures.

Fall colors...

Summit portrait...

Hiking out we got well down to S. Colony lakes before it started to rain/snow again. It never got moist enough to warrant anything more than my soft shell and overall was a very nice day. We stopped for a few pics on the way out and home.
Needle shot...

South Colony road...

Looking back on the drive home, we managed to find a nice window of safe weather to touch the top and get back down, a birthday wish come true.

All photos by Jesse Benn or Jessica Schouten

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

I agree!
11/30/2010 17:20
That's my style of climbing -- have done it many times ... head on up, evaluate, keep on climbing, evaluate, summit success, descend, celebrate! Nuff said. Nice pix. Happy Trails!


10/19/2008 06:40
Great pics! Love the comparison of the Crestones during/after the storm. I appreciate your push for the summit, and your patience for the weather to pass! Did you have to take cover at any point due to heavy rain/snow or lightning?


Thanks for the comments....
10/20/2008 00:58
We didn‘t need to take cover or ever really feel too threatened by the storm, we just dropped off the ridge toward upper S. Colony lake and waited for a bit. There was 2 intimidating cracks of thunder that raised the heart rate a bit.

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