Peak(s):  Crestone Peak  -  14,294 feet
Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Post Date:  07/01/2012
Date Climbed:   07/01/2012
Posted By:  zephyr_pelicante
Additional Members:   carson_h

 "Just ignore the fact that it looks impossible"  

Day 1: Hike to South Colony Lake

Start time: 7:00pm
End time: 9:00pm
Distance: 4 Miles

As a summer Co-op at a new job, I met 2 guys from work who liked to do mountain climbs - Carson and Kevin - and was invited to do a weekend trip with them to do Crestone Peak and Humboldt peak. Kevin and Carson are Colorado School of Mines alumni, and if all goes well, a year from now I will be too!

We arrived at the South Colony Lakes trailhead at 7pm and geared up and began the trek to lower South Colony Lake. Near the end of the trek it got dark so pulled out our headlamps for the last mile, and setup camp.

Day 2: Crestone Peak

Start time: 4:00am
End time: 10:30am
Distance: 5.5 Miles

We woke up early and began the ascent to Broken Hand Pass. The trail going up to Broken Hand Pass went across ledges where the moonlight lent some mystique to the early morning adventure. After following the very well crafted trail up to the section of class III climbing, we crossed a 10ft flat section of snow. Then the helmets and gloves went on and climbing commenced.

Broken Hand Pass

After the pass we descended the rock-staircase-trail down to Cottonwood lake.

Cottonwood lake

The sun continued over the hills and we hiked West where our route came into view - the Red Gully.

Red Gully

We approached the gully and Kevin kindly reminded us "Just ignore the fact that it looks impossible." We went to the right to avoid difficult climbing, then began our ascent.

Ascending Red Gully

Ascending Red Gully

Red Gully - Final Pitch

Red Gully - Final Pitch

At the top of the gully is a saddle between East Crestone, and West Crestone (summit). This was our first real stop we made since the pass, and it was needed because the Gully was quite a workout.

The portion from the saddle to the summit went over ledges and had a little exposure.

Looking back on the ledges between the saddle and the summit

Climbing toward summit

This was my favorite part of the climb as the ledges were lingering on the side of a cliff and climbing the interesting geometries of the solid-rock was rather surreal.

There is a 10 ft drop before the no-nonsense summit. On the summit there are only enough rocks for a handful of climbers to sit and enjoy the scenery.

North Summit Panorama

Looking east - check out that notch! (Humboldt in background left)

Kevin and Carson

Blanca and Sand dunes

The descent of Red Gully was tremendous; we had great views the entire time.

Descending Red Gully

On return to our campsite, Broken Hand Pass didn't go unnoticed. We were sure to re-helmet and remain complacent amidst the loose rock on the East side descent.

I had a nice swim/bath in South Colony Lake. I let my body chill in the water then tan in the sun for 30 minutes each before changing into some refreshing new clothes.

Crestone Needle / Humboldt Panorama

We enjoyed a long afternoon nap and some long hours of sleep. I treated myself to a few hours of the musings of psychology/philosophy audio lectures while looking at Crestone Needle from our camp.

Day 3: Humboldt Peak

Start time: 4:30am
End time: 8:00am
Distance: 5 Miles

We got another early morning start for Humboldt Peak. The trail meandered through some willows on the East side of South Colony Lake before emerging above treeline to reach Humboldt's West ridge. On the ridge I was able to snag a few photos of the Crestones we had tackled yesterday.

Crestone Needle (left) and Crestone Peak (right)

Ascending Humboldt's West ridge

Humboldt was a quick but enjoyable climb, and we got some good views during the post-sunrise on top. We chatted briefly with some other hikers who had done quite a few pretty interesting routes on serious peaks.

Great panorama of Crestones at sunrise

East panorama

Looking South from summit

We hiked back down, broke camp, and made it back to the car by 10am.

Carson has only a handful of 14ers left, I have just begun and Kevin is somewhere in the middle.

I continue to have a truly incredible, unique experience on every mountain I climb. In my previous trip reports I've mentioned developing an addiction for climbing these peaks. I didn't think I'd end up packing in 15 summits in a little over a month. Every time I plan a trip, I sit and think about how awesome it will be, and my expectations are always blown away.

On this trip report I hereby officially state that I intend to climb every 14er in CO, and I want to do it before I turn 25. It's no longer an addiction its an obsession.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

you're all over these mountains
07/02/2012 01:24
nice job on another man


grammar police...
07/02/2012 01:34
eats shoots and leaves (i.e. ”nice job on another, man”)


extending your bucket list with every climb
07/02/2012 02:04
Nice job Colby, I am glad you made it up some more mountains this weekend. Mountain after mountain it gets more exciting as we go.


07/02/2012 13:44
awesome pictures, feel like it gives some perspective to the climbing thats required in the red gully...crestone peak is on my short list for sure!


nice job
07/02/2012 17:24
nice report, it looks like a great climb. I'm new to hiking 14ers myself, and I'm wondering what you would say about this one being one of the more difficult 14ers. Did it make you nervous, and would you recommend going with someone who is much more experienced to ease the nerves?


LOL @screeman57
07/02/2012 20:16

Doctor No

Well done!
07/03/2012 04:20
Love the shots - gives some good perspective on the climb!


07/03/2012 13:42
Thanks all for the comments!

zerosignal28: it didn't make me nervous. Kevin was a little spooked by the ledges near the summit but besides that I don't think the other two were nervous either. However, they are both very experienced.

It may help to go with someone experienced. We split up in the gully so we wouldn't hit each other with rocks, so we weren't spotting each other climb. What was most helpful is Carson and Kevin had a GPS and were able to find the route well. This isn't a mountain where you want to *accidently* get stuck or lost on an exposed face.


LOL back@tmatthews
07/03/2012 22:21
good one


07/05/2012 16:39
I think we passed you guys when you were coming down the gully and our big group was still on our way up. It an awesome day up there for sure!


Excellent Write Up
07/07/2012 01:16
Thanks for the details on the Red Gully and near the summit. And congrats on a safe trip up and down a Crestone.

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