Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  07/27/2009
Date Climbed:   07/26/2009
Author:  bergsteigen
 Dance of the 7 veils - Gurlz Hike P2  

Crestone Needle
Rock Stars: Birdie, Jenjay & bergsteigen
TH: South Colony Lakes 4WD
Route: South Face (W->E Gully)
Mileage: ~6.25
Elevation Gain: ~3,300'
Start: ~4:30am

Day 1: Crestone Peak
Day 2: Crestone Needle

The dance of the seven veils of clouds and mist:
After being buffeted by the wind all night, we woke later that originally planned, but feeling good for the climb ahead. We head out on the now familiar trail, knowing where all the twists and turns are. Heading up the pass, we take it a bit slower than yesterday, as this time we don't want to beat the sun. That and Jenjay and I are nursing sore knees.

With the later start, we see the sunrise on the S. Colony lakes side of the pass.

Needle in the first sun:

Birdie and Jenjay admiring the layers of clouds and fog:


Sunlight on Broken Hand Pass and Crestone Needle:


Once on the pass and making our way over to the Needle, a layer of mist comes in to hug it

We approach in varying degrees of fog, down climbing a short pitch on the way to the base of the west gully.

Some flowers:

Looking over to Broken Hand Peak

Once in the east gully, the mist ebbs and flows, in and out. Sometimes obscuring our route, sometimes revealing it, like a tease. The climbing is amazing, best ever. The conglomerate abounds with ready hand and foot holds for the very solid class 3 climbing. After being sad that the class 3 section on Wetterhorn was too short, I am rewarded with scrambling heaven.

With my camera in my backpack, I take virtually no photos on the way up. Neither Birdie or Jenjay have a camera, so you will have to use your imagination to view the swirling mist and climbing.

As we ascend the east gully, we look for the crossing point to the west gully. With the mist, every gendarme and spire along the rib looks like it. Since us women are not afraid to ask for directions , I refer to my iPhone, which has all the route photos downloaded onto it. After hearing some horror stories from the day before, with guys descending the wrong way, and having a very very long day of it (and being stuck in the hail storm), we wanted to make sure we were on route.

At the cross over point, it is fairly obvious. The stream section turns into a dihedral and there are cairns on the rib to the left. To be safe, I take a gps waypoint. We build up the cairns along the cross over point. In the west gully we also build up cairns with light colored rocks, pointing the way.

Ascending the narrower west gully is quick and easy. We meet Kansas as he descends, and he takes a photo of us ascending (Yay! Thank you )


At the top of the gully, on the ridge, Jenjay leaves her red shirt wadded up as a marker of sorts. We me one group that almost descended the wrong way. So we were doing everything we could to make sure everyone we met knew of the route finding issues/dangers.

Once on the summit (after quite the celebratory hollering), I have my camera in hand to photograph the teasing glimpses of the scenery through the clouds and mist.





The party behind us, were our summit photographers for the morning



Very briefly the clouds lifted near Crestone Peak, but just a tease lifting of the veil

Descending the west gully:

Cloud veils:

As we neared the cross over point to the east gully, the clouds get thicker and we begin to feel moisture consolidation. Rain! Not the best of news, before the exposure climbing to come. On the rib, we meet another group of 3 women. With the rain, we convince them that they are not near the summit, nor is the climbing going to be easy with wet rocks for hand and foot holds. They descend.

The rock is wet, but we take it as slowly as we feel is safe. The holds are so big, that we are able to get down fairly quickly. We let out cheers of completion as we finally get to the bottom (with one premature yell when we were deceived by the clouds ).

The traverse over to the pass is enjoyable with the veils of mist coming in and out. Breath taking scenery of flowers, mist, rock and lakes as we slowly pass by.






Nearing the pass, the clouds recede enough to allow a parting glance at my new favorite peak:


Jenjay sitting on the crux of the Broken Hand Pass route

Some more beauty, in a weekend overflowing with it

Back in camp, we break down and pack up, sore from the weekends excursions. We imagine riding my truck like a horse, to minimize the rough rock bouncing all the way to the lower TH. Recharging at the Pizza Madness in Silvercliffe, dreaming up crazy devious schemes for future 14er climbs. It's been an amazing weekend! Gurlz Rock!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

 Comments or Questions

Awesome job guys!
07/27/2009 20:20
Really wish I could have been there with you!!!!


07/27/2009 20:22
...trip report. Congrats to everyone in your crew on successfully summiting!


Nice work!
07/27/2009 20:54
Nice TR and congrats to all of you! You three were rippin‘ through the East Gulley when we saw you. Nothing like some Pizza Madness in Silvercliffe on the way out!


Party of 3
07/27/2009 21:36
We met you as the rain started to fall (the 3 women mentioned in your report ). The clouds cleared and we probably could have made it, but it was such an iffy day for weather. It is one of my favorite peaks though, and I have no qualms climbing it over and over again!


I‘m sorry it‘s over! =(
07/27/2009 23:30
Great job on the TRs bergsteigen! Was a pleasure hiking with you and every one of the gurlz . I hope we can make this a regular occurence!

Michaela: we wished you, moon stalker, superdawg and gatorchick could have been there as well! But, you‘ll be more refreshed and better prepared next time!

wesley_j: Were you in the group of men trying for the traverse?

snowalli: was that you, kgmo and Lyssah that we saw? We knew there were three others coming in on Saturday night hoping to do the Needle on Sunday morning, but we never saw you guys at the camp. I‘m glad you were still able to make it.


Indeed a nice job on the TRs, Otina!
07/28/2009 02:22
And thanks for all the photo links, guys.

Birdie: thanks for your words of encouragement. I now have a Flintstone foot, but my ankle is considerably less swollen than yesterday, and weight-bearing is not an issue. So hopefully I won‘t have long to wait.


You rock, photographer!
07/28/2009 04:11
Amazing photos bergsteigen! Even though you had your camera put away for a while, you can get an idea of just how much the clouds and weather changed. What a crazy day. In the future I will charge my batteries and take photos to post of my own. Great job on the TRs!

MUni Rider

Lovin‘ the fog.
07/28/2009 08:55
Not at all like your day before on the Peak. Great trip report. Congrats on your two summit weekend gurlz! It was nice to meet you all in camp.


The fog&clouds made the photos awesome!
07/28/2009 18:09
I just clicked the button

Michaela & everyone: It was too bad that we couldn‘t all do this peak together. You must go back and climb it!

wesley_j: With all the talk of what we wanted to eat & drink after climbing, we were racing to get down

snowalli: That weather was all over the place! Every time I thought it would finally clear, it would cloud up. I was just worried at that time, that the rain was there for good.

moon stalker

You lucked out with the weather
07/28/2009 19:16
I was worried what weather you guys might be dealing with. As I was driving out across the basin (8-9 am), I got lots of rain and even some thunder. So early in the morning! Glad you guys made it, that is a fun peak. Wish I could have stayed to do it again, just couldn‘t manage the time. Great job.


RE: I‘m sorry it‘s over! =(
07/28/2009 19:28
Yes that was Lyssah, snowalli, and our friend who I don‘t think is a forum member.....? I don‘t know kgmo and we never heard from her on whether she wanted to meet us. We got to the trailhead around 9pm and decided not to try to find a campsite, so we slept in the back of my car- tight fit, but comfy It would have been hard to find you guys in the dark, and you were probably already asleep!


Enjoyed the report...
07/28/2009 20:22
The fog and wispy clouds add a cloak of the ethereal to your report. I enjoyed the narration of this and your previous report. The last caption to the last photo made me smile. Well done.

Maui Built

Good stuff!
07/30/2009 00:27
snowalli - saw you girls going down. I was the guy with the red bandana and another friend, next time!

bergsteigen - good job guys! good to see you on the trail, check out my trip report of the same day/peak:

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