Crestone Peak Climber's Log

Viewing: 1-20 of 143

JRaphaelson - Sep 3, 2023 3:10 pm Date Climbed: Sep 2, 2023

Ellingwood Arete to Peak Traverse to Northwest Couloir  Sucess!

Great hard day in the mountains!


cmcalhoun - Jun 20, 2023 8:54 am Date Climbed: Sep 26, 2018

Crestone!  Sucess!

Red Gully


Scott - Jan 19, 2023 10:43 pm Date Climbed: Aug 28, 2022

Crestone Peak  Sucess!

August 27 2022

In the evening, Kessler and I hiked up to Lower South Colony Lake and set up camp. It was an easy walk, but it was raining much of the time.

August 28 2022

A few thoughts on doing Crestones Traverse "against the grain" (Needle to Peak) with a circuit of the South Colony Basin with my son.
Why did we choose to do it this way? With the 50% chance of rain forecasted after noon, we didn't want to chance hitting the crux when it is wet. Was it the right choice? Probably not.

Peak to Needle is the way to go. Needle to Peak you miss at least one of only two places that has good scrambling. The rest of the route is mostly a tedious scree fest. It was disappointing in this respect.

Thoughts on the quality/aspects of the route:
The south face route on the Needle is wonderful. It's one of the most enjoyable standard routes of any 14er. It's a solid, enjoyable, and straight forward scramble (we did the direct route rather than cross over).
The Crestones Traverse and the standard route up Crestone Peak is rather meh. Maybe we would have changed our mind on this if we did the route in reverse. Instead of the good scramble, we did the rap, but it's slightly awkward to get on rap there and is probably more intimidating that just doing the climb. Downclimbing the 5.2 bulge farther down is also a lot more awkward than climbing up it, especially without a spotter). We used a rope here (and met two other climbers here who tossed it down to us). After getting down, it was apparent that going up was much easier, but from the top it is hard to see how to downclimb (go slightly west).

The Northwest Couloir is awful without consolidated snow. Don't do it. The couloir was mostly dry, but with a little fresh snow about. The melting fresh snow was enough to cause rockfall (the route was way worse than the Hourglass on Little Bear). Conditions were miserable enough that we exited the Couloir after just a few hundred feet and traversed over to the North Buttress. We descended the North Buttress via a zigzag route, doing one long rappel along the way, but it was time consuming.

Once we reached the Bears Playground, we followed the ridge all the way over the Humboldt Peak trail and descended that way, completing a full circuit around the South Colony Lakes Basin. It took a lot longer than expected.

Other than the Northwest Couloir, our route was safe enough, but it rates high on the tedium scale.

Anyway, I guess this is just a round about way of saying that the best way to do the Crestones Traverse itself is to just link up the two peaks by doing Crestone by it's standard route, over to the Needle and then descend the standard route of the Needle. This is how the majority of people do the route and I guess there are good reasons for that. The only real advantage of our route is that you could also hit up Humboldt (or even Kit Carson and Challenger if you are really tough!), but other than that the standard route is much better.
I mentioned that we descended the North Buttress, but in the downhill direction, route finding isn't that straightforward and you had better take a rope and know what you are doing.

I'd highly recommend avoiding the Northwest Couloir unless you are doing it as a snow climb. If conditions are good, this might make an enjoyable route going up the NW Couloir (as a snow climb) and then doing the Peak to Needle. Ascending the North Buttress and then doing the Peak to Needle would also be great route.


birdhead - Jul 14, 2022 3:47 pm Date Climbed: Jul 9, 2022

Red Gully from South Colony  Sucess!

Felt like hell due to lack of sleep. Red gully has some fun sections with good scrambling, but also some loose sections. 3:10 from camp near South Colony Lakes. Cottonwood Lake area is beautiful.


runbyu1 - Sep 26, 2021 8:28 pm Date Climbed: Sep 25, 2021

Long run day with Crestone Needle as well  Sucess!

Started at South Colony Lakes trailhead at 10am, up the needle by 12:30...taking it easy and talking to people along the way and on summit. Ran down to Cottonwood Lakes and hit a wall at about 13,000 feet...really did not feel good. Made summit and was all alone with no other climbers on mountain. Rallied on the way back and felt pretty good, making it from Broken Hand Pass to the trailhead in 47 minutes.


JesseSumrak - Aug 25, 2021 10:05 am Date Climbed: Aug 21, 2021

Crestone Peak + East Crestone Peak  Sucess!

Climbed this with Ben and Andrea on a clear weather day. The red gulley was straightforward. Bit of loose rock getting kicked down by some climbers, but other than that it's a longy, but a goodey.


BKiser90 - Aug 23, 2021 6:57 pm Date Climbed: Aug 21, 2021

Crestone and Crestone East  Sucess!

Ascended via the standard route after an overnight in South Colony Lakes. I was recovering from COVID so the hike felt unusually difficult. Chest was aching a bit which usually doesn't happen. Started from camp just after 5:00 am. Summitted around 8:50. The red gully was a long, but fun route. My least favorite part was reascending and descending Broken Hand Pass. Sunny skies, no wind. Also summitted the East Summit.


McCannster - Aug 9, 2021 6:37 am Date Climbed: Aug 7, 2021

North Buttress to Needle Traverse  Sucess!

Fun outing with Will. From our bivy near the old 4wd trailhead, we made our way to Bear's Playground, then up the North Buttress of the peak with fun mellow scrambling. Tagged East Crestone for the Custer County HP, then the main summit (these are very close in height). The launched into the traverse over to the Needle, which was very enjoyable. Back down to the trailhead by early afternoon. Very smokey air, but still a fun outing.


BradBartick - Aug 24, 2020 4:33 pm Date Climbed: Aug 24, 2020

Good 14er   Sucess!

Peak via the Red Gullet. Good rock all the way, not as loose as you would think and grippy when dry as a bone. I went up Cottonwood Creek trail from Crestone (West). It eliminates need to climb and reclimb Broken Hand Pass. The trail is solid but good route finding skillz are a must. Though admittedly I have crummy skills and I still made it solo. Well cairned. 5 miles lands you directly below the Red Gully. 3500 of gain. I started at 4pm, was tucked in a tent by 730, and summited the next day.


xDoogiex - Aug 19, 2020 5:30 am Date Climbed: Aug 18, 2020

14er #29  Sucess!

Did the south face solo before the traverse

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - Jun 24, 2020 5:33 pm Date Climbed: Sep 15, 2019

North Buttress Class 4  Sucess!

Excellent scramble, and everything was still so green!!


eli.boardman - Dec 27, 2018 10:33 am Date Climbed: May 31, 2018

Solo, with the Needle  Sucess!

Solo, started at 2wd trailhead, then climbed Peak, Northeast Crestone, East Crestone, and Needle


Wheelbarrow - Feb 6, 2018 12:03 am Date Climbed: Jul 1, 2017

#29  Sucess!

Stick to the left of the snow in the middle and you *should* be able to scramble your way to the top.


yadahzoemtn - Jan 26, 2018 9:32 pm Date Climbed: Sep 2, 2017

Long day  Sucess!

Got a little banged up on the descent


Moogie737 - Sep 5, 2017 11:26 am Date Climbed: Sep 2, 2017

Standard route from camp below lower South Colony Lake  Sucess!

#1 9-2-17 W/ Yadahzoe. Bluebird day, shared the summit with about 15 others. The red gully is a delight albeit a long one. 14er #41. Most assuredly one of the toughest so far.


MissH - Aug 21, 2017 1:10 am Date Climbed: Aug 20, 2017

Gorgeous weekend!

Left camp at the lake by 6am. On top of BHP by 7:15.Summited Crestone Peak around 11. Left summit around 12:30. Summited Needle via Traverse around 2:30. Took just under 2 hours for both of us. Back to camp around 6:15. Trailhead around 9:15. Long day, but two summits and a fun traverse are worth it.


Onager - Aug 19, 2017 10:09 pm Date Climbed: Aug 19, 2017

South Face  Sucess!

Soloed South Face, long day!


ozarkmac - Sep 9, 2016 8:52 am Date Climbed: Sep 6, 2016

Red Gully. Great fun. Long day.  Sucess!

With my daughter. Amazing variety of terrain involved. It was my fifth time up and over BHP. If I never do it again, it will be too soon.


ericd - Jul 11, 2016 8:45 pm Date Climbed: Jul 10, 2016

A stair-stepper to finish the top 10!  Sucess!

Started at the south colony trailhead at dawn. A straightforward approach with scenic lake vistas. Lots of mosquitos out for the weekend: bring bug spray. A short gain thru talus, then loose rock up Broken Hand pass to 13,000', so don't break your hand. The unusual descent into the peaceful valley with a lake on other side was quite unique for my 38th 14er. Tempting is the Needle traverse for next time! Snow patches up the distinct red rock coulier but not much for crampons. Could of sworn the east summit is higher than the west rocks but I recommend climbing both in :20 time for completely different views. The 4 miles and 3850' elevation gain made for a good warm up for soloing the Needle later in the 16hr day.


hhsilleck - Jul 5, 2016 2:04 pm Date Climbed: Aug 10, 2013

Completing my 14er list  Sucess!

The final Colorado 14er I climbed to complete my list of 58-ish. A very special one to finish - one of my favorites. Standard Red Gully route with my beautiful wife.

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