Marble Mountain in Winter: One of the Sangres Finest Summit Views

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Trip Report
Colorado, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jan 28, 2009
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Marble Mountain in Winter: One of the Sangres Finest Summit Views
Created On: Jan 29, 2009
Last Edited On: Jan 29, 2009


Marble Mtn (13266')
Sangre de Cristo Range
9.4 miles RT, 4500' gain
From South Colony Rd. (8900')

Participants: Pete Krzanowsky & Kevin Baker


My boss gave me a comp day for working on a Saturday this month, so I decided to use it on a mid-week hike when the forecast was nice. "Nice" is a relative term in the high country though. I enjoyed a nice snowshoe outing in the Sangres with my wife, cousin, and friends over the weekend, so I decided to head back and take advantage of the decent snow conditions. Pete was the only taker for this mid-week hike, and it turned out to be a classic with views I will never forget.

Pete and I left C. Springs and we noticed some spindrift coming off some of the buildings. Not a good sign! We made the familiar drive down to Westcliffe and made our way up our old friend South Colony Rd (CR-120). The road is plowed to CR-121 at 8600'. I put the 4Runner in four low and decided to see if I could get to the pullout just beyond the 2WD trailhead. I followed a snowmobile track for a bit until the wheels started sinking. We called it good at 8900'. It was entertaining going down this as there wasn't enough room to turn around without getting stuck!

Easy Street Down Low

As expected, it was just a bit nippy as we were out in the open with a brisk n.w. wind blowing. We set out at 6:40am, enjoying not only a snowmobile track but also a recent snowshoe track. I got by with gloves but my fingers were stinging for the first few minutes. Once in the trees, we quickly warmed up and got rid of a layer. We enjoyed the fine track all the way to the Rainbow Trail 1.75 miles up the road. This place sure looks different in winter! Our snowshoe friend didn't do us a favor and head up the Rainbow Trail, so we decided to hop on the Krzanowsky Beeline Direct to the ridge since the Rainbow Trail wasn't broke.

From Marble

We were quite surprised at the quality of the snow for late Jan on a north facing slope. There was 6 inches to a foot of powder on top of a pretty solid layer. Apparently the recent warming trend has really helped the snowpack here. Pete did a great job breaking trail to the ridge, and from there we continued to enjoy fine snowshoeing conditions. The bushwacking was pretty mellow as the trees were nicely spaced out for the most part. The trees were loaded with snow, making for some fine eye candy.

From Marble

We were able to take longer shifts with the trailbreaking duties until we got higher up.

From Marble

Into the Fray: Banshees & Spindrift & Peeps, Oh My!

As we neared treeline, the wind as expected began to pickup. Spindrift occassionally blew through the trees, so we knew things were about to change. As the legendary Ken Nolan would say, the banshees are on the prowl looking for some poor hikers to sabotage! The breaking got more strenuous as we climbed, but it still wasn't bad at all. We made great time to treeline at 11600', at which point we put on full body armor and loaded up with food and drink for the task at hand. Pete put on an extra pair of pants and I headed on up to stay warm. Into the fray we go and bullocks to the naysayers!

Discouraging view from treeline:
From Marble

The NOAA forecast was probably spot on with the wind speeds as it was calling for 35-40 mph gusts. To combat this, we tried to stay below the ridgecrest on the leeward side in search of a wind shadow, but there wasn't much of one. We got our first view of the Crestones along the ridge and it was absolutely jaw dropping. I made an extra effort to get a good shot of it trying to keep my hands still and it paid off. This is why I hike in winter!

From Marble

On a nice day, you can enjoy this view all the way up the ridge. Bummer that we had to stay a bit below the ridge, but the summit would give us a fine reward for our efforts. For some reason I was feeling really good today. I'm not sure if it was the 5 Peeps I ate, a Rock Star energy drink, or a fine ravioli dinner the night before. I ran out of gas though about 200 feet below the summit as the battering was taking its toll. The rest step did the trick though, but the summit didn't seem to get much closer. We finally topped out at 11:40. I must say this is this was the most spectacular view I have had on a winter summit. Here's a video of the final few steps to the summit and the inspiring view you get when you top out.

Summit video

It was worth the price of admission!

Broken Hand Peak & The Crestones from Marble summit:
From Marble

Milwaukee cloaked under a winter mantel of snow:
From Marble

The views in winter are sure worth the effort! We only hung around for about 10 minutes or so before heading down. Pete stayed on the ridgecrest so his small frame could be blown down like a kite while I plunge stepped down a sastrugi snowfield that was fun. We retrieved our snowshoes and enjoyed a nice descent down the ridge. The only problem was the wind had obliterated most of our tracks, so we had to break trail again. We rode the MSR bobsled run down to the road and kept our snowshoes on the rest of the way, arriving back at the car at 2:35pm. I would highly recommend Marble as a safe, virtually zero avy risk (as long as you stay on the ridge) winter hike with a staggering summit view that is hard to beat.

Parting shot of Marble:
From Marble

GPS track:
From Marble


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-12 of 12

HokieJim - Jan 29, 2009 11:05 am - Voted 10/10


view of Crestone Needle! I'll definitely be adding Marble to the "to-do" list. Looks like the hike up qualifies for a B1 rating. Nice hike and report Kevin!


Deltaoperator17 - Jan 29, 2009 11:10 am - Voted 10/10


What a great Trip Resport. I reallu like that you incorporated a video into it!

All my best,


Alan Ellis

Alan Ellis - Jan 30, 2009 8:58 am - Voted 10/10

Well Done!

A long day from the lower TH. Nice TR and photos.



cp0915 - Jan 30, 2009 10:23 am - Voted 10/10


Fantastic photographs. Thanks for sharing them.


TJ311 - Jan 31, 2009 1:44 pm - Voted 10/10


Great trip report and awesome pictures!


ktiffany22 - Jan 31, 2009 10:23 pm - Voted 10/10

You're a hoot!

Baker, you're gettin "real good" at them fancy words... "Into the Fray: Banshees & Spindrift & Peeps, Oh My!" ..."cloaked"... "naysayers" ....Fun read with great reward of fine pictures- congrats on a good one! :-)


shanrickv - Feb 1, 2009 11:17 am - Voted 10/10

Well Done!

Kevin, as always, well done! I love the Sangres.
Climb On!
Phil 4:13


Luciano136 - Feb 2, 2009 7:04 pm - Voted 10/10

Crestone needle?

Is that the big triangular peak in the middle? Looks impressive to do that! Have you ever been on top of that one? Great report and pics!


woodsxc - Feb 2, 2009 8:30 pm - Voted 10/10


Nice TR. The pictures were fabulous. Nice youtube video BTW.


shknbke - Feb 2, 2009 9:59 pm - Hasn't voted

Crestone Needle


Crestone Needle is one of the harder 14ers in CO, but it still is only class 3 via a solid gully on the south side. I've been up the Needle twice, and it's my 2nd favorite 14er next to Longs. The view from Marble is of the east side, which is all 5th class. The most popular route on that side is Ellingwood Arete, which goes at a highly exposed 5.7.

nd987 - Feb 2, 2009 11:05 pm - Hasn't voted


The south colony lake/crestone needle area is my favorite place in Colorado! Outstanding views of the needle/peak...great photos

Larry V

Larry V - Feb 7, 2009 11:25 am - Voted 10/10

Marble Mountain

This trip report should go a long ways toward increasing the popularity of Marble Mountain. It sure bumped Marble up on my priority scale. Nice job on the trip report!

Viewing: 1-12 of 12

Marble Mountain in Winter: One of the Sangres Finest Summit Views

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