Crestone Needle  
Condition Updates  
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-04-12, By: Buddyboy27
Info: Road is snow covered about 1/2 mile or so above the lower 2WD lot. Continuous snow from there to Broken Hand Pass Saddle. Ridge approach to 13.3k downclimb is 50/50 snow/dry. Hoping to ski the south face, but appeared out so did not attempt to summit. Photos 
4 2
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-01-12, By: moon stalker
Info: From cottonwood TH the trail is well packed to about 3.5 to 4 miles up. Then when it hits the boulders Paul mentions, fewer people have gone that far. I lost the previous tracks around 11,000k. I went right, the previous tracks went straight up. Go straight up, if you start going down, just keep going up. I missed the previous tracks again at about 12,000. Above treeline the trench is harder to follow as it has been filled in various spots. Stay in the middle of the valley and don't climb too high above it. Below BHP, there is a weird snow formation at the base that did not look appealing to get through. I gained the ridge one gully to the west of BHP. There were tracks there too. Once on the ridge, the cairns were easy enough to follow. The fresh snow on Saturday left about 2 inches on the ridge, nothing noticeable down below treeline. The snow was melting when the sun was out, Sunday was near bluebird. Quite a bit of the rock was wet from the melting snow that covered everything, which will turn to ice. I got away with microspikes, but I wouldn't be surprised if crampons will be required very soon. The crux was not dry, had a dust of snow on it. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-01-05, By: paulbarish
Info: Went from cottonwood creek TH. The first mile or so is well travelled and then I broke trail from there. I'm happy with my line because although this is a rough approach I didn't have to deal with the slabs I've read about. There is about 800' vert of boulderfield that is harsh tho. I camped around 11,400' and it was a perfect spot for the next day. I took the East gully all the way up and the crux rock section is dry. In fact it was so warm on the way up I was bare handed! The snow was surprisingly stable in the gully although it's mostly avoidable. Overall the route is in great shape, sometimes I made a wrong turn and my descent tracks are better, sometimes not. Someone should take advantage of my trench! It's a great climb! 
10 8
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-11-01, By: Will_E
Info: Summitted the needle today. Far more snow than I anticipated. 2 jeeps made it to the Rainbow trail parking area (talked to them, they were Custer County SAR, nice guys), and a 4 Runner was parked there when I passed by at the end of the day. There are ATV tracks from the Rainbow parking area to the 4WD TH, no traction needed to this point. From the 4WD TH to just past treeline I was in snowshoes breaking trail. After treeline its wind scoured enough than I didn't use traction. Broken Hand Pass was the toughest part of the day, the snow is pretty variable. On the way up I stuck to the south side of BHP, staying in snow I could kick step. On the way down I went to the opposite side, the rocks were mostly dry, but steep, and hard to navigate down. If I were to do it again, I'd descend the south side with crampons (I had them with, but was looking at every possible option to avoid putting them on). From BHP to the East Gully, just a little snow here and there. Same for the East Gully, I was mostly able to stay on dry rock all the way up. I didn't crossover to the West Gully. 
14 1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-10-18, By: jmhauck
Info: Not much has changed since the last report. A little bit of snow just before broken hand pass. Easy enough to skirt around the edges. Never broke out the spikes. Breezy but beautiful 
Route: Ellingwood Arete/Ledges
Posted On: 2020-10-04, By: angry
Info: There is snow/ice in the crux pitch and belay ledge. Climbed entire route in approach shoes. Got a late start and was surprised to see another party. Be prepared for a long day. 
5 3
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-10-03, By: BrookStout
Info: Echoing other reports, route is still in great dry condition except for the top of broken hand pass. Microspikes and a trekking pole are all you need. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-10-02, By: Moogie737
Info: With wonderful weather as our companion my partner, Lana Christiansen, and I successfully completed the "list of 58." We needed and used microspikes and ice axes for the last 200 vertical feet of the ascent/descent to/from Broken Hand Pass. At the crossover point we had a short conference and decided we would take the east gully all the way. We did and both agreed that if one is comfortable with 4th Class climbing this way is just fine. On the summit the feeling of elation for completing our 6-year journey was overwhelming. We descended the east gully and found it nicely cairned, many of which we hadn't been able to spot on our ascent. This is a fabulous peak and certainly ranks as one of our favorites of all the 58. Special thanks to Bill Middlebrook and Gerry Roach for their excellent work and thanks be to a God who heard and answered our prayers. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-09-28, By: mountainkat
Info: Snow mostly avoidable except for the top of broken hand pass, where spikes are pretty much necessary. Trekking poles could help With balance through the snow too. The rest of the trail and all the technical parts were bone dry. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-09-25, By: aholle88
Info: BHP has snow in the left side gully going up. Spikes/axe recommended. There are foot steps. Snow is very firm/icy. Right gully is snow free and a good alternative, it does involve more scrambling however nothing more difficult than one would find on the Needle itself. Needle looked to be mostly snow free except for maybe a few small patches of snow. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2020-09-20, By: Dani_C_123
Info: Snow on the ascent of broken hand pass, otherwise clear. The snow had a good boot pack. Spikes/gaiters recommend. 
Route: Ellingwood Arete/Ledges
Posted On: 2020-09-20, By: slawrence2011
Info: 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. 
10 1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-09-14, By: LivingOnTheEdge
Info: Didn't go up and over Broken Hand as we were headed for Columbia Point on this day, but figured approach info would be valuable. Broken Hand looked stocked from top to bottom but can't speak to the depth of the snow. Packed snow at the trailhead and decently packed trench up the road to the split at the old trailhead. We broke trail from there up to the Lower South Colony Lake on the Humboldt Trail, but were not prepared for hip deep drifts and constant knee deep slogging. Melting pretty quickly, but I wouldn't be surprised if all of that snow doesn't melt off this year. Plan for the potential of full on winter conditions if you want to ensure your success. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2020-09-08, By: LindseySarshad
Info: This will definitely peg your fun meter. The entire route is extremely well marked and we hardly had to spend any time route finding. The last pitch is possibly the gnarliest thing I have ever done but once you pass the class five bulge and the knifes edge there really is no turning back. The rock on the last pitch is solid and there are plenty of holds. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-09-04, By: eichsttl
Info: The entire South Face Route is ice and snow free. Both the East and West Gullies were mostly dry with only a small flow down the East Gully that was easily avoidable. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-08-09, By: durkan
Info: Camped down near and with enough distance from South Colony Lakes. Conditions dry the whole way, minus in the diahedral (avoidable). Tagged Crestone Needle via standard route. Quite a few people, even early in the morning, so helmets were donned before ascending Broken Hand Pass. Route descriptions were very helpful, though it felt like we did accidentally go too high in the west gully and somehow entered the east gully. You'll realize this quickly and with some more class 2-3 scrambling, you can get back to the standard route. Standard Route is easier to spot on the descent. Had service to re-verify our weather window for tagging Crestone Peak after, then we went back down to the pass and completed the standard route for Crestone Peak. 
Route: Cottonwood Creek
Posted On: 2020-08-03, By: Hershel
Info: Did not summit. We started after sunrise, so our chances were pretty low to start. Weather turned us around, maybe .2 of a mile from the split between the Crestones. You. Gotta. Get. This. One! Shhhhhhh! This was lightly trafficked as we might have seen 10 people the entire day. If you're comfortable with some light route finding/bushwacking, then this is a dream route! So beautiful. The first three miles are a straightforward trail. You'll then encounter a boulder field on your left. You can go through it or skirt it to the right. From here the fun starts through sections of waterfalls. Look for the cairns. Be forewarned that at times there are several cairned routes. Be ready to do some backtracking at times, but there are almost always carins to follow. We found that they all seemed reliable, just pick what's best for you. You're always directly left (north) of creek. Because of the route finding, I'd plan for this taking longer than you expect (based on distance/vert gain). 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2020-08-02, By: MountainBuhn
Info: Cairns on the left side of the red gully going down will indicate the start (about at 13,700). Not bad route finding. Suggest downloading the GPS route for good measure. Class 5 move not too bad (especially if you have long legs). While not as physically demanding, I thought the knife edge ascent out of the class 5 gully was more terrifying due to shear exposure. Same with the final 50-100 of ascent riding the east cliff. SAR rescues occurred the Friday before. Be careful on the descent off Needle. There are orange flags indicating the exit of the gully, but a hailstorm must've made visibility a problem for the people who were trapped. Pretty interesting to see waves of helicopters flying low over Broken Hand Pass. 
5 1
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-07-27, By: thomasdds
Info: Forecast called for rain at 2:00 PM. Both the Peak and Needle were cloudy and wet all morning. Very little visibility all day. Heavy rain and T-storms came in about 4:00 PM. On Crestone Needle the crossover from the west to east gully is currently marked by an orange ribbon. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-07-23, By: LetsGoMets
Info: Took East Gully direct without issues, mostly dry and all snow free on entire route. 

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