Peak:  Crestone Needle (14er)
 Route:  Ellingwood Arete/Ledges
 Range:  Sangre de Cristo
 Posted By:  slawrence2011
 Date of Info:  09/18/2020
 Date Posted:  09/20/2020

The South colony approach was clear of snow. So was the hike the base of the direct start of the ledges. However, it was a bad idea to choose the direct start, because the crack for protection and handholds was almost completely covered in snow. Could not get to the first bolted anchors, managed to get to the second with a mild snow crossing. The first pitch was almost a free solo, because I had to go way on the slab to the right, and could only place one tricam about 20 feet from the bottom on the entire pitch. After that, we transition to The ledges start which was dry. We ran into our next snow difficulties just after the first mandatory low class 5 pitch where we had to do a 200-foot Traverse to the right on snow, mostly a ledge, kicking in steps. after that, we were able to take the crest of the ridge to the base of the Crux pitches. The first 5.6 pitch again had a lot of snow in the center crack, but managed to get enough gear in with some old fix pitons. For the 5.7 Crux pitch, I found out I was on a 5.7 variation to the right, and it had a lot of snow on it. because of that I had never changed out of my mountaineering boots. This crux required stemming, with thin face holds, so I ended up slipping off, and taking a 30 foot fall, thank God my 2.5 tricam caught me. At this point it was late in the day, and after building an anchor and belaying my partner up, we ended up repelling off that tricam, and staying the night on a ledge. Because I had some significant leg bruising that prevented me from lifting my body weight with both legs, much less one leg, I elected to call a rescue in. That turned out to be an unnecessary decision oh, I only did it because I thought they might be able to make it that night, and didn't think I had enough gear to survive, but both proved false. We found a much better look right facing dihedral that look like the true crux pitch, but my partner doesn't lead Trad. I think it would have been very reasonable for me to give it a go the next day, or go for a rappel. But overall, I was shocked with how much snow was still on the route, and would not have attempted it in those circumstances.

Photos (click for slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Glad everyone is safe
09/20/2020 16:49
My friends and I were doing the traverse and saw the helicopter. We watched you guys fly off and Iâm pretty sure we ran into your emergency beacon along the route. Super happy to hear everyone was okay in the end.

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