Peak(s):  Crestone Peak  -  14,294 feet
Date Posted:  07/20/2009
Modified:  07/22/2009
Date Climbed:   07/19/2009
Author:  JB99
 Brother‘s on the Peak  

"They‘re f----d dude, I seriously can‘t sit down without using my arms. Or go down stairs... if I woke up like this without having done anything physical the day before I would go to the hospital cuz I‘m that f----d up." -Andrew Benn 7.21.09 (in response to a text asking if his legs were sore.)

My little brother and I made an unsuccessful attempt on Crestone Needle earlier this year; So we were both excited to get back to the area and have another shot at either Needle or Peak or both.

As we drove down I-25 I watched in horror as a bird committed suicide by Jeep, by my Jeep. It turned down toward the vehicle in what could only have been an intentional end to a tragic bird life. I looked in the rear view mirror for signs that he had miraculously survived but instead my fears were confirmed as a darkly comical poof of bird feathers was stirred up by the 85mph tailwind of my SUV.

We arrived at the S. Colony trailhead in the evening on Saturday and set off. We got to a very full S. Colony Lake in about 45 minutes and the Needle cast its' awesome shadow across the landscape.

Andrew starting up the trail...

We decided to continue over Broken Hand Pass and set up camp at Cottonwood Lake. The climbing up the Pass was as difficult as any on our climb the following day, just shorter. Once we hit the top I realized my mistake, if we wanted to climb the Needle then we didn't need to go down to the lake. After a quick unsuccessful search for somewhere on the Pass to set up our little tent we decided going to the lake was our best bet and we would do the Peak. Unlike its popular counterpart Cottonwood had no other people camping. Our site was a little closer to the trail than I realized in the dark as we arrived but it was established already and really nice.

The next morning we tried to get up at 5AM but Andrew had a headache so he took some ibuprofen and we went back to sleep for awhile. Finally after hearing two groups pass and the sun interrupting our slumber we got up. Andrew's headache had gone away some and we set off around 8AM.

The morning was beautiful, no wind or clouds. We made our way passed the lake and got our first glimpse of the Red Gully.

It looks much worse than it is when you get there. We were a little concerned about the highest snowfield but zooming in with my camera I could see a pair of climbers starting up. It looked much more manageable with some people to add perspective to the view.

We made our way up and the scrambling quickly began.

The first two snowfields were passed easily on rock. There is a lot of scrambling and also a lot of just hiking steeply up. There weren't any moves so exposed that they gave either of us any pause. Andrew is not not scared of heights either.

We arrived at the final snowfield and were happy to see steps all the way up. This was the first time we broke out the axes. I was glad I didn't carry crampons all this way just for this short moderate section.

We plodded up and met the last bit of scrambling before reaching the saddle between the east and main summit. It was here that I thought the exposure might start to be worrisome so Andrew set down his pack and we started up. There was a perfectly easy ledge system all the way to the summit and many different options. I went straight for the ridge proper in search of some more exhilaration. The drop off to the north side is substantial but the climb was short. I felt like a jerk for almost being disappointed that we were already at the summit. It was the first climb of the summer for me that really brought the little kid out of me and I was smiling all day.

Looking down at the final pitch...

We chatted with the other folks up there and enjoyed some summit chocolate and took pictures. We started down behind the other two groups, one including jbchalk was nice enough to let us go behind them. We promised to be extremely cautious about kicking rocks down on them and I think we held pretty true to it not sending down anything big. The group of older gentlemen below us all seemed to send a lot of good sized stuff flying. More than the two dogs with jbchalk's group at least. They were some of the best behaved dogs I've ever met and were fun to climb with.

We got back to camp real slowly, Andrew has a messed up knee so descending is hard for him. Once there we took a little nap before packing out and heading home. Pizza Madness hit the spot in Westcliffe and will be a stopping point for me anytime I'm in the area. This was Andrew's 3rd 14er and it was great to get a summit with him. Camping at Cottonwood Lake seemed to me like a great way to break up your climb of the Peak as opposed to S. Colony and was much less crowded.

For some more pictures see here;

 Comments or Questions

how did
02/05/2011 00:22
I miss these reports? Nice trip, and I love the black and white photo you threw in there, esp with the waterfall. 8)


Nice Pics
07/21/2009 03:32
I love all of these pictures, what type of camera do you have, and did you use any extra lenses?


Thank you
11/30/2010 17:28
I really appreciate the compliment. I just use an 8MP Canon PowerShot, nothing too fancy and no extra lenses. I think it's the subject more than me or the camera...especially the marmot at the bottom, that guy could be a professional model with that smile.


Great report,, Jesse.
07/21/2009 14:33
Nice meeting you and your bro up on the Peak.


You too Brandon.
07/21/2009 14:47
It was fun chatting with you guys and meeting the dogs... let me know if you ever want to climb something together, it is usually me and the lady.


Nice Report, Nice Trip
07/26/2009 20:13
Crestones are next for me, so this helped. Vort.

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