CRESTONE PEAK and CRESTONE NEEDLE
This hike will stay with me for the rest of my life. I have never seen such a surreal surrounding. Jason and I had been planning this trip for a long time before it actually happened.
The Crestones are famous in the climbing community. They are extremely rugged and beautiful. They are a pair of dangerous mountains that seem to claim the life of at least one climber every year.
We climbed these mountians while on a weekend camping trip. We started near 12,000 feet elevation, but still gained 4,500 vertical feet that day due to the nature of the trail.
This picture was take the day after we climbed the Crestones. The Crestone Needle is visible on the left, and Crestone Peak is just hidden by the clouds on the right. These clouds are what we had to contend with the day we hiked.
We started before sunrise that morning and could see that the needle was already buried in clouds. Lightning posed no danger though, since the clouds were merely forming on the peaks. No thunderheads were forming. But for the entire day we were in and out of clouds. Which limited the chances we had for photos.
The day began by hiking through broken hand pass, the low point in the photo. We then had to descend 800 feet into the valley on the other side.
The pass requires a little bit of climbing but is still fairly easy to negotiate. This photo exaggerates the difficulty a little, but it looks cool.
From the valley on the other side of the pass we then ascended the famous Red Couloir. A gulley that is composed of red rocks, contrasting against the gray rock that surrounds it.
The red couloir is a great path to the summit as it is difficult to lose the trail due to the color. The second picture was taken about 3/4 of the way up the couloir looking back at the valley below and shows the color a little better.
We reached the summit of Crestone Peak rather early in the day. However we quickly realized we had made a small mistake at the top of the red couloir. We were supposed to have gone left, but went right. The mistake though didn't turn out too bad as it only cost us a half hour and led us to a spot with far more impressive views than those on the true summit of Crestone Peak.
The photo above is on the false summit we went to first.
Jason stayed on the false summit while I traversed over to the true summit and he got a couple of nice shots.
The clouds broke for a moment on the summit of Crestone Peak.
We only got a few glimpses of the Needle before we began our descent off Crestone Peak.
The next stage of the hike is known as the Crestone Traverse. It has been said the Crestone Traverse is one of Colorado's top 5 traverses. So far it is number one for me.
I don't have many pictures of it due to the focus it took for route finding and to avoid a fall. We were buried in clouds most the time as well. However these pictures sum it up pretty well. They were taken by me looking down on Jason climbing the last 100 feet.
He is climbing up a knobby rock wall to reach the summit. Off to either side below him you are looking down at a 1000 foot drop. The rock is easy to climb and very solid so a fall is very unlikely, but unquestionable deadly if you do fall.
Truely an adrenaline rush on the traverse. Finding the start of the traverse is a challenge, but once on it the route is fairly easy to follow from Peak to Needle due to some well placed cairns. We did make one wrong turn and returned to the ridge too early which made us do a very short class 5 piece, but it didn't make things too bad for us. I highly recommend bringing Roach's directions and following them exactly.
From the summit we could see our tent below us (the blue dot) at South Colony Lakes.
We then descended the Needles standard route back to broken hand pass and then back to camp.
After returning to camp in the early afternoon, the clouds broke and we were treated to some stunning views of Crestone Needle where we had just been earlier that day.
The next day we did Humboldt Peak. Read about that trip HERE.
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