Crestone Peak (14,294') by Red Gulley
From a Lower South Colony Lakes basecamp
Crestone Needle (14,197') by traverse
|This sign is telling..|
“The Peak draws some people like a siren but rejects others. If it draws you, approach with respect and caution”. - Gerry RoachWhen first I set eyes upon the majesty of Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle, I was filled with emotion. Feelings of fear, feelings of awe, feelings of inadequacy. Wondering how such a thing could be safely climbed, and knowing that the path I was on would intersect with these very peaks in the future. These monoliths stand proud in the Sangre De Cristo mountains, causing thousands to dream, to wonder, to explore, to climb. Climbing these mountains has been done so many times and for so long- it's not a complete mystery. The route has been documented, examined, explained, and photographed. And yet, none of these things can totally prepare you for the journey to the summit- your own experience is still required.
|(Click on any picture to make it larger)|
|Crestone Needle (L) and Crestone Peak (R) from Humboldt Peak- July 2011|
Crestone Peak is significant for it's rugged rock, it's lofty height, and it's impressive exposure. Like many mountains, it has a weakness, and this weakness can be carefully exploited to allow relatively straightforward passage- not to say it is easy. Crestone Needle, the nearby neighbor, has the distinction of being one of the steepest mountains in Colorado, meaning the mountain drops off abruptly on all sides with a high degree of steepness. Crestone Needle is generally considered to be one of the top 5 hardest 14ers in Colorado, based on the steepness, exposure, and route finding. Make no mistake- it will challenge you.
We met up with someone from 14ers.com, Matt. I had some exchanges with him on the forum and we met up with him on the road. By the time we reached the upper trailhead, I had 3 people in my truck bed. We started off from the crowded upper 4WD trailhead about 4:30 PM.
|Crestone Needle rises above the forest|
|Marmots are everywhere and they are watching...|
|Crossing a huge bridge after about 3 miles (Photo by Matt)|
|Hiking up the road-like trail (photo by Matt)|
The weather was cool and overcast as we hiked up to the lakes. The excitement and enthusiasm made the 4 miles go by seemingly quickly, and we arrived about 90 minutes later. This gave us time to scout the trail, play by the lake, and have fun with some impromptu bouldering. Bouldering is something I'd never really tried before, but it's fun!
|Trying not to get my boots wet|
|Super fun bouldering about 100 feet from our campsite (photo by Matt)|
|Scott on a rock|
|Panorama of Crestone Needle, lower South Colony Lake, and Humboldt Peak|
|The moon in the notch of Broken Hand Pass|
|Broken Hand Peak from the top of the pass (Photo by Scott)|
|Looking down from the top of Broken Hand Pass|
|Summit Panorama from Crestone Peak. Colony Baldy, East Crestone, Crestone Needle, Broken Hand Peak (L to R)|