|Peak:||Crestone Peak (14er)|
|Route:||South Face / Red Gully|
|Range:||Sangre de Cristo|
|Date of Information:||05/02/2012|
I climbed the Red Gully yesterday via the South Colony Lakes TH. The red gully itself has continuous snow for 3/4 of the way, and there are some icy spots in the lower gully that are avoidable if you climb on the rocks off to the side of the gully. I initially climbed up the class 3 rock on the right side to avoid the lower icy sections before I actually entered the gully, and once I did there was a short snow section to climb up before I left the gully again and climbed up the rocks on the left side to avoid more waterfalls. After this though it's a standard snow climb to the top of the gully. There's barely any snow left on the scramble from the gully to the summit, although I did encounter one or two icy spots. The snow in the gully definitely gets soft early in the day!
I broke a trail up to Broken Hand Pass and used crampons/ice axe the whole way in the morning, then coming down the snow was soft enough I didn't need crampons. Thanks to whoever left a long glissade track coming down the pass...it made breaking trail up the pass easier in the morning! On the other side of the pass it's mostly dry with a few sections of snow down to Cottonwood Lake. There was evicence of one wet slide off to the right of broken hand pass from a day or two ago...it's probably not a good idea to be going up or coming down the east side of the pass late in the day if it's been warm.
Cottonwood Lake and Upper S. Colonly Lake are still frozen over, however, Lower S. Colonly Lake is melted out at either end.
On the way up I took the longer trail up to Broken Hand Pass (the "Crestone Needle/Lower SCL" Trail) and on the way down took the shorter trail (the Humboldt Peak/Upper SCL" Trail). However, the Humboldt Peak trail is sort-of a nightmare right now...there are zillions of downed trees, deep patches of snow where you posthole up to your waist, and a lot of times it's difficult to follow the trail. It probably would've taken me the same amount of time to go down the longer way!
I brought snowshoes but didn't use them. In the morning the snow was hard enough to walk on, and in the afternoon the sections where I was postholing and could've used them were so intermittent that I would've taken more time just taking the snowshoes off and putting them back on again.
If anyone wants more info (or to see more pictures) let me know!
Image #1: Broken Hand Pass (east side) - note the wet slide off to the right!
Image #2: Broken Hand Pass (west side)
Image #3: Red Gully
Image #4: Crestone Needle
Photos (click for slideshow):