Peak:  Crestone Peak (14er)
 Route:  peak to needle traverse from cottonwood creek
 Range:  Sangre de Cristo
 Posted By:  JaredJohnson
 Date of Info:  06/15/2020
 Date Posted:  06/17/2020

Cottonwood creek approach is in better shape than I imagined from some old trip reports, and it was as fantastically scenic as we'd read; highly recommended. But it is arduous and the "paths" through the heavy bushes are frustrating the last ~500', and maybe it's worse with more growth later in the year. There were trees down across the path but some were already cleared by the time we descended the next day, it wasn't as bad as the woods lake approach to navajo the previous week. Maybe wind has been bad lately and/or there's less trail maintenance with covid?

There was plenty of snow in the upper red gully - see attached photo left of center. We opted not to tag the peak, so we climbed rocks to climber's right of the first big snowfield to meet the traverse route and ascend the needle without having to hit the snow. But the snow would be doable with axe and traction mandatory, especially for someone that managed the snow in broken hand pass. It would be sketchy to descend later in the day when it softens though. I imagine a lot of it could be avoided with more climbing on the rocks to the right but much of it would be unavoidable.

The traverse was pretty much all dry, a couple of avoidable patches.

Photos (click for slideshow):

Comments or Questions
Cottonwood Creek Approach Mosquitoes
06/22/2020 10:32
Were the mosquitoes as infamous as everyone says? Also, is there camping at Cottonwood Lake?

Keith Boyd


06/25/2020 08:28
The "Sangre" in Sangre De Christo refers not to the way the vibrant sunsets reminded the Spanish settlers of the spilled blood of Christ but instead the blood taken by the mosquitoes that live there


06/27/2020 09:31
I was there with my wife last year in mid July and the mosquitoes were intolerable. When I was there this time (it's been a minute), there were a lot at the cottonwood TH but NONE anywhere else.

I'm not sure if there's camping at the lake itself but going to the lake is a detour from the approach to the peak. We camped about 50ft from the juncture of the cottonwood approach trail and the standard approach trail, just above treeline against a hillside.

It was easy camping but the marmots are bad. Last year nearby they chewed a small hole on the tent. This year they chewed a big hole, went inside and pooped and chewed on a hiking pole handle.

   Not registered? Click Here

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.