Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  07/28/2009
Date Climbed:   07/27/2009
Author:  dcbates80911
 Ten months to the day - concept to reality  

Team: Bogart (Chad)
Distance ~ 7.5 miles
Route: South Colony Lakes

This trip started on September 27th, 2008 over beer and food at Donita's Cantina in Crested Butte following the Fall Gathering. We were discussing our goals and both had Humboldt on the list. Winter came and went, but we continued to stay in contact. Finally, Chad contacted me two weeks prior to see if I was interested, which I was so plans materialized.

We met in Colorado Springs and drove to Westcliffe through some incredibly hard rain in Fremont County. Once in Westcliffe, we resigned ourselves to a rainy night, but part way up the 4X4 trail the sky's began to clear. The 4X4 trail wasn't bad in comparison to some I have been on, but careful attention was taken to save the oil pan while my rock runners took a couple hits.

At the gate closure, we were surprised at the number of people still there on a Sunday night. Chad set-up his tent while I prepared my bed in the back of my 4Runner. We ate, made a mad search for a missing I-Phone (found) and prepared for bed.

Good sleep was not on the menu for this night. Chad woke up an hour early due to a time zone issue with his clock. I was up most of the night star gazing (no moon) with dozens of shooting stars. I love starry nights like this. At 4:30, I awoke and met Chad for the early departure under headlamps.

As we headed up the trail, the sun began to rise.

Photo by Chad

We stowed our headlamps and continued up the amazing valley watching the sun light up the beautiful mountains.

Broken Hand

Crestone Needle

Along the way, Chad and I took a wrong turn at a fork in the trail. The right fork had an established bridge and we decided to take it. Oops. Wrong way. Chad and I discovered this oversight and tried to get back across the creek until we found another trail heading the right direction. By this time, we were pretty wet from the vegetation.

Chad on the wrong side of the creek

After reaching the proper trail, we began the uphill climb to the saddle. This is pretty steep, but wasn't too bad. Trail is well marked with nice steps.

Making my way up
Photo by Chad

Looking down on the lakes
Photo by Chad

Chad takes in the views

Upon reaching the saddle, we were just over 1000 vertical feet from the summit, but about to start the toughest part. Wind came over the ridge and we remained in Humboldt's shadow. It was a little chilly while exposed. Chad and I ate a little and made gear modifications before heading up. The trail changed to cairn hunting and rock hopping the rest of the way.

L - R: Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak
Photo by Chad

Chad taking a break - false summit in view

Trail - Not

Humboldt's east slope and the valley to the north

Looking down into the valley to the north

When you get close to the false summit, the trail goes to the right where the real summit comes into view. The trail in between is relatively level with about a 100ft scramble at the end.

Bypassing the false summit - real summit in sight

Chad with the true summit

Phote by Chad

We arrived on the summit 3.5 hours after beginning. There were a few people on the trail but for 25 minutes the summit belonged to Chad and I and a pesky Marmot. We ate, adjusted our gear, took quite a few pictures and I made a phone call to a coworker in Allentown PA. Hey, it isn't every day you get a call from 14K on the East Coast.

The weather couldn't have been better. A little hazy to see distant peaks, but all the Sangre de Cristos were visible.

Looking down on Westcliffe

Crestones - They are right there and gorgeous

Looking down from where we started - see the trail?

Me calling Dwight
Photo by Chad

Chad's summit shot

Blanca Massif
Photo by Chad

Photo by Chad

Our pesky summit mate
Photo by Chad

Photo by Chad

Kit Carson

After 45 minutes, we started to see the clouds acting strange and with the last known forecast, didn't want to wait. Descent to the saddle took quite a bit of time with careful stepping. Only one twisted ankle, but it didn't hurt. Upon reaching the good trail, our decent picked up speed as the views continued to be beautiful. We stopped to take a couple of pictures and made it back to the car at 12:30.

Flower along the way


While driving back, we talked about the trip and teaming up again on another climb when we were passed by three El Paso County SAR vehicles. Later, we discovered they were headed down to help Custer County SAR rescue a stranded hiker on the Crestones. Although they are beautiful, these mountains need respect. I don't know the circumstances on this particular rescue, however, Chad and I passed a few people who looked very ill prepared. One couple was at 13K in flip flops.

Overall, it was a great trip. Weather and company couldn't have been better. I enjoyed hiking with Chad again and we will definitely team up on another great adventure, but sooner than 10 months

 Comments or Questions

Great Trip
07/29/2009 03:56
Dave, It was a great trip! Thanks for driving. I really enjoyed the hike/climb with you. We need to do it again. I have an appointment tomorrow to get that ankle looked at.

Have fun in the San Juans.


Beautiful shots, fellas!
07/29/2009 04:46
Nice job guys! Isn‘t that just an incredible hike? Glad you had good weather, and thank goodness for the modern technology that goes into making a durable ankle.


Sweet Hike!
08/01/2009 02:17
I hope to visit Humboldt before the summer is over. Nice marmot shots!


08/02/2009 07:49
Great TR and pics, Dave and Chad! I can‘t WAIT to get down there in a week or so!

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