Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  06/04/2009
Date Climbed:   06/03/2009
Author:  B[3]
 The Crestone Rain Forest  

We had originally planned a rock climbing trip, but the weather did not cooperate. We could see the Sangres, and they looked sunny, so we decided to head out to South Colony Lake (on 6/1/).

Our Subaru Outback did fine on the road, but given the height of the creek, we decided to park just below the first creek crossing. By the time we had unpacked our climbing gear and re-packed with our mountaineering gear, it was raining. Although we knew the weather forecast was not good, we decided to hike in anyway.

We got soaked on the hike up the 4 WD road and were pretty cold by the time we got to the end of the road. Given the amount of rain, we didn't want to camp on the snow, so we pitched our tent in a well-used campsite that was mostly free of snow. It poured (and snowed) for the remainder of the evening.

The next morning, Ben woke me up and tried to convince me to go for a peak. It was still pouring, so I declined. When the rain slowed, we hiked up to Lower South Colony Lake to do some recon of the conditions. Although we brought snowshoes, we didn't need them.

It started snowing really hard during our hike, but eventually the weather relented enough so that we could see Broken Hand Pass and part of Crestone Needle.


Since we hadn't done any of the Crestone Group previously, we decided that if the weather cleared the next day we would start with Humboldt and check conditions on the Needle and Peak. It turned out to be a good decision (especially since it precipitated most of the day on 6/2--rain, snow, sleet, you name it--we woke up to new snow on the ground the next morning).

The next morning was beautiful (6/3), so we left for Humboldt at 6:45am.

Finally, views of Crestone Needle


and Humboldt


On our recon the previous day, we did not like the looks of the crossing just south of Lower South Colony Lake, so we decided to go back across the double log footbridge and to take the "pack trail" starting from the parking lot east of the last creek crossing. The trail was relatively easy to follow--it was melted out in some spots and required snow travel in others. Again, we took snowshoes, but did not need them--the postholing was minimal.

Looking up at Humboldt


Given the recent snow, warming temps (first sunny day after several of snow and precip), and high winds, we decided to go up the talus slope instead of trying the unknown condition of the standard trail. We stuck to the talus and stayed off the deeper snow as much as possible.

A rough depiction of our route


Once we got to the top of the steep talus slope, we followed the ridge to the summit.

Summit photos



Leo walking down the ridge from the summit


The snow was pretty firm, so snowshoes weren't needed. On the way down, the snow began to soften but we still bare-booted it.

While heading up, we had heard a noise that sounded a bit like a jet engine. Neither of us thought much of it at the time but when we stopped for a break, we noticed avalanche activity on Crestone Needle and Broken Hand Peak.


While sitting on a rock, we noticed several avalanches going down the Needle and Broken Hand Peak (including Broken Hand Pass). We had hoped to try either the Needle or Peak the following day but decided it was too dangerous given the avalanche activity. Next time.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

South Colony Lakes
06/05/2009 03:45
Thanks for the report! Just out of curiosity, were the lakes in the area still frozen solid or are they starting to break up?


06/05/2009 15:37
Lower South Colony Lake was mostly open water (with some sketchy looking snow bridges over the creek drainage). We don‘t remember the condition of the upper lake.


06/09/2009 01:39
for the trip report, very helpful in planning my trip on 6/9

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.