Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  09/02/2010
Modified:  09/03/2010
Date Climbed:   08/29/2010
Author:  alanonymous

 Crestone Needle - Standard Route - Beautiful and Windy  

The goal of this trip was to summit the Needle. Last August, JFaust and I summitted Humbolt and the Peak, and shear exhaustion and lack of time prevented us from the Needle. This was our chance!

The two of us, plus Jayson left Colorado Springs at about 8:00am Saturday, making good time to Westcliffe. We made it to S Colony Lake early afternoon, with the hope that we would have plenty plenty of time for fly fishing (the weather didn't allow ... more on that later!). The new parking lot was actually quite nice. On our trip last year, we made it just slightly farther than the parking lot, stopping for fear of destroying my Mazda. This year's hike was about the same distance, but the road to the parking lot wasn't bad at all!

ImageThe new parking lot!

ImageThe hike up to the lake, before it really turned into a trail.

ImageA beautiful shot of the Needle with the route sign right at the lake.

The problem we ran into was that within 2 hours or so of arriving at the lake, it quickly became overcast, and a drizzle/rain settled on us with pretty well sustained 30-40 mph winds. The rain stopped in the early evening, but the winds didn't stop until we were back inside the car the next day, 12 hours later.

ImageJayson and the Needle before the weather began to turn.

ImageHome away from home.

Before the weather turned a little sour, we had a pretty good experience with the wildlife! A little herd of big horn sheep (all females and youngin's, oddly enough) wandered through our camp, and we even had a marmot hanging around on the rock next to our tents.

ImageA little herd of big horn sheep wandering through our campsite!

ImageThe baby of the group!

ImageOur friendly neighborhood marmot.

Our original plan was to wake by 4:00am, leave the site by 4:30, and make it to the brokenhand ridge by dawn. There was no rain, but the wind was whipping around so hard all night that we decided to sleep in until around 6:30, finally hitting the trail by 7. This is the latest I've ever left for a summit! The picture below is a little deceptive ... it was REALLY windy. As we were starting, we saw ~7 others who also slept in because of the vicious wind, though about halfway to brokenhand pass we saw no one until we made it back to our tents.

ImageThe hike begins! Notice the Needle and the cloud we would be entering...

The hike actually went really quickly. In less than an hour we were at brokenhand ridge, and in another 2 we had summitted the Needle!

ImageThe climb.

ImageMore of the climb.

The climb itself really wasn't as bad as I imagined. It turns out that our hike last year to the Peak was a fair amount of trailblazing, wherein we eventually found part of the traverse and followed the trail the rest of the way to the summit. This year for the Needle, we had much better luck staying on the trail (even on the way down where it can be difficult if you're not careful) and the difficulty of the hike was similar.

ImageA happy JFaust.

ImageThe steepness of the 'trail' for some parts.

ImageJayson just hanging out.

It was pretty interesting the higher we got. The clouds were actually forming around us as the wind whipped by.

ImageMe coming over a ridge. One of my favorite pics.

ImageObligatory summit photo!

ImageOn our way down, right by the top where the trail was more distinguished.

ImageBrokenhand ridge on our way down.

If you look closely at the pic above, our tent is the white spec middle right.

ImageJust before the old parking lot.

We met a friendly guy who took our mugs for us. He passed us just before the old parking lot, headed up in the middle of the afternoon, already looking exhausted, hoping to do the Needle that day?!? I hope he made it OK...

Overall, was an awesome trip. As long as weather conditions hold up for you, it's absolutely beautiful camping, and as long as you stay on the standard route trail, the hiking is awesome too!

I have to mention too, most of these amazing pictures are due to JFaust's new camera. Someone please convince him to buy a wide angle lens too!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Magnificent photos!
09/03/2010 21:40
Man, do you have an eye for photography, or what? Some of the finest views from the Needle I've ever seen. Congrats on summiting despite the high winds -- very gutsy and bold in the face of challenging weather. Thanks for sharing this cool adventure!


04/06/2011 20:55
You can tank JFaust for the great pictures. I think he took 16 of the 19 posted above. I'll count that as one more vote for him to buy a wide angle lense!


photo 15
09/04/2010 04:14
holy cow...that's a keeper. nice work

   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.