Crestone Needle  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-07-12, By: lifewithcare
Info: There are patches of snow with a few icy spots very early in the morning when heading up to Broken Hand Pass... however all are completely avoidable. The route from the pass to the summit is for the most part dry, a few trickles of water on the "east" gully, but definitely avoidable. Crossing the dihedral was not an issue for our group of 4, except for one of us who was only 5'0" tall. You can definitely step down onto the rocky floor that is between the dihedral - though it was quite wet, there is no snow. (image #2 is looking down from the east side of the dihedral). Image #3 is looking up at the notch just after the dihedral. Image #4 looking up towards Broken Hand Pass. Someone has left some colored markers on cairns along the route making route finding easier than expected, (green arrows in image #1 point to the markers at exit point of west gully) but route finding definitely difficult coming down the east gully. Several "cairns" in the wrong spot can lead you off track easily. Wear a helmet. 
4
 
Route: Ellingwood Arete/Ledges
Posted On: 2020-07-08, By: desertdog
Info: The Arete is completely dry and in summer conditions. We started at 430am and summited at 1230pm, so 8 hours of climbing. We took the Direct Start to add some more adventure. We descended the class 4 gully and it was dry as well. Be prepared, this is a long day. 
2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-07-03, By: Clint the climber
Info: No need for axe or traction. The only snow on the entire route is below Broken Hand Pass and has good steps kicked into it. All of the Needle's south face is dry. Be smart and wear a helmet, there is loose rock on the route. I saw way too many people up there today not wearing one. 
2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-22, By: xm0067
Info: Slept in Cottonwood Basin and approached from west side, left from S. Colony Lakes side. Climb up is clear. There is a small amount of water trickling through certain parts of the gully, but its entirely avoidable. The dihedral is melted out, so the move is just rock no snow. The S. Colony Lakes side of Broken Hand Pass is crappy as usual. Snowfield is still there and still thick. The snow is poor quality like a lot of spring snow: soft, wet, and difficult to self arrest in. It did not take kicked steps well. We glissaded it coming down, and had to do a full self arrest a few times. You still must have an ice ax to safely ascend and descend the pass, not just trekking poles. Wear a helmet due to loose rock from above coming down the snow field. 
1
 
Route: Ellingwood Arete/Ledges
Posted On: 2020-06-22, By: ckfong
Info: We did the ledges start. There is one area that you had to cross snow near the base of the mountain. It was consolidated. We did not use traction to get up the small snow field as we stayed to the far right. The grassy area on the ledges was quite slick so please be careful. We tried to mostly stay on rocks. The ledges does have a relatively small snowfield however you can avoid it by staying on the rocks. We did not use traction at all on the ledges. We were able to do the headwall in two pitches. On top of the first pitch, there is still a good amount of snow on the ledge area where you finish. The area where you initially top out has no snow. You can traverse to the left on top of that ledge and make an anchor. The pitch itself has now snow or ice. We also used a 60m rope. The crux pitch has no snow or ice on it. When coming down broken hand pass, there are a couple of snow fields that needed to be cross. We were coming down around 2pm. The snow was quite soft. We did bring ice axes. We glissaded some but unfortunately due to the snow conditions, it wasn't the easiest to self arrest. Please be careful when coming down the initial snow field. We did not use microspikes. Pics to come... 
3
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-21, By: moosealligator
Info: Ice axe and at least microspikes highly recommended for the snowfield on broken hand pass. Rest of the route dry with the exception of a stripe of snow in the dihedral, making the move to traverse it somewhat uncomfortable. 
 
Route: peak to needle traverse from cottonwood creek
Posted On: 2020-06-17, By: JaredJohnson
Info: 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? USING THE COTTONWOOD APPROACH (not ascending BHP from SCL), and opting NOT to tag crestone peak itself, means you can do the traverse route to the needle without any need need for ice axe or traction; just take rocks on climber's right of the first big snowfield in the red gully to meet the traverse route (see photo 1 left of center). The traverse was pretty much all dry, a couple of avoidable patches (photo 2). Other reports suggest the descent route is also dry, although to be honest we took a completely different, accidental, harrowing route down to cottonwood lake so we didn't see this for ourselves. We recommend the standard route down the needle back to cottonwood via BHP ;) 
2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-14, By: Shawn Ironman
Info: Broken hand pass has some spots with tough snow. Use crampons, I didn't have them but I was able to just kick my boot toe in till I got a bite then repeat. No snow from top of broken hand to peak. Route finding was harder than expected, I made a few wrong attempts up and down but ultimately was able to make it to the top and down safe. weather rolled in a few times at 1,2 and about 4 pm with hail. 
1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-10, By: joshwillins
Info: Was turned around at Broken Hand Pass due to thin powder over melting ice. Without crampons/ice axe, this proved impossible to scale. The route up to that point had maybe 2-3 snowfields, again slippery, due to melting ice under thin powder. 
1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-05-28, By: Tlentine
Info: The hike to South Colony lakes was 90% dry. Once you get to the gate (1.5) miles from the lake there are some small-medium sized snowfields that are easily walkable without the need for flotation or traction. Trekking poles are nice for stability, but not absolutely necessary. Trying to find a spot to camp at the lakes is rather limited due to snow coverage and also the snow melting is flooding some potentially good spots so try to get there early. Took us about 4 hours to get to the lakes from the lower trailhead. Summit Day: Used ice axe and traction to get up Broken Hand Pass, but never used it again for the needle. Everything else was dry or had avoidable snow spots. From Camp to the summit and back down to broken hand pass took about 3.5-4 hours. Gear needed: Ice and traction, trekking poles if you want them (never used them after the hike to the lake) 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-05-21, By: fathertonyhollowell
Info: Just an update on the snow conditions of this route. On the approach to Broken Hand Pass, the snow was rather poor. The last 1/4 mile was all snow (see photo), but it was very weak and provided little support. I was on the snow before the sun began hitting it, and I began ascending the last 1/4 mile by 6:30am, and it was still a colossal effort to ascend through this weak snow. Probably 1/3 of all steps were post-holes, and caution was required with nearly every step. However, there was no snow after getting to the pass, other than 5 or 6 little snowbridges of 5-10ft in length along the trail. If I were to do this climb this weekend, I would seriously consider snow-shoes instead of crampons. The crampons were necessary, but as long as the snow-shoes had good traction, they would get the job done, and likely help with the massive post holes. However, that might only be wishful thinking, as the snow has surely deteriorated more since the climb. I would also leave the technical snow gear (ice axe/trekking poles and crampons/snow-shoes) at the pass and pick them back up on my return, as they were unnecessary after the pass. I did not use the crampons for the descent (the snow was very soft by the time of my descent of the snow at 10am), but I did use my ice axe for a 200ft glissade. Also, there was a nice water source of flowing ice-melt at about 13,100, at the entrance of the "east" gully, which I think is probably still flowing by this weekend. 
1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: RobLowe
Info: From Cottonwood Creek. Snow around Cottonwood lake was the only real slow down. Some ice in both gullies, easily avoidable. Wore running shoes. Had spikes and ax, never used them. Some may want to use spikes depending on preferences. 
5 2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-05-14, By: Coloradokid_
Info: Pretty dry up to the turn off near the bridge, after that I'd say 80% snow coverage up until you start heading up broken hand. Broken hand pass was holding nicely in the early AM, on the way down it was getting pretty slushy. Used crampons and ice axe up the pass. Pretty dry all the way to the first gulley, stayed on climbers right in the gulley to avoid snow/ice. Once crossing over to the second gulley I managed with just microspikes all the way up. Downclimbing was the difficult part with there being a lot of ice. Brought snowshoes never used them, ice axe/crampons for the pass, microspikes up high. 
4 1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-03-07, By: Will_E
Info: Summitted Crestone Peak and Needle today (didn't do traverse, summitted Crestone Peak first, then did the needle on the way back). From Broken Hand pass to summit, I didn't use traction or flotation. There's a little bit of snow here and there, but in small enough patches to not be worrisome. I did the class 4 gulley rather than cut over to the class 3 gulley. You can *almost* entirely avoid snow going up. On descent I used crampons and axe and just went straight down the snow chute. See Crestone Peak conditions report for some addtl. info regarding the approach from S. Colony Lakes TH. 
5
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-01-05, By: moon stalker
Info: We put a trench in to 10800 from cottonwood TH. From the end of the trench it's about 1 mile to the base of the red gulley for the peak or 1.7 miles to broken hand pass for the needle. Go use it! And make it better for us next weekend. We lost the trail twice on the way up. We tried to find a better way on the way down in those places. Go right at the junctions and stay near the creek. 
4
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-12-22, By: Will_E
Info: Great day on the needle, weather was about as perfect as it gets for December. I started at the lower 2wd TH, there's really not much point in trying to venture further, the snow gets deep pretty quick. From there to the Rainbow trail turnoff there is a pretty good trench, I didn't use any traction or flotation. After the Rainbow trail turnoff, I was in snowshoes breaking trail all the way to, and up, Broken Hand Pass. I should have left my snowshoes there, but didn't know what the gulley would look like. From Broken Hand Pass to the summit, I used micro spikes, there's a fair amount of mixed terrain, and the snow wasn't too deep except in a few places. Once in the first gully, I was able to avoid most of the snow and stay on the rocky areas. I intended to cut over to the class 3 gulley, but this was one place the snow interfered with my plan, I could not figure out a way to safely get up and across, so I instead just went straight up the class 4 gulley, and again I was able to stay mostly on the rocks. On descent I used Crampons and kept ice axe at the ready to descend the class 4 gulley, this time going straight down the snow chute, it worked pretty well, and the snow wasn't too horribly deep. Kept crampons on until I was fully down the steep portions of Broken Hand Pass, then switched back to snowshoes for the long slog back. Long day. 
14 5
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2019-11-18, By: CaptCO
Info: Completed the traverse with no traction. That will change this week as the snow storms roll in. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-10-14, By: chrisfrees
Info: Easily avoidable ice going over the beginning of the trail. Perfect conditions other than that. 
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2019-09-23, By: dwoodward13
Info: Traversed Peak->Needle. Route up to BHP is ice/snow free. The Red Gully up to the Peak has ice/running water in it, but it does not pose a significant issue. Just be aware when moving from side to side of the Gully. Traverse is ice and snow free. A significant wind increased the pucker factor on the final Class 4 headwall quite a bit. Easy to get off route descending the Needle since we did not come up that way. We descending the Class 3 route. The exit of the west gully to start to head over the rib to the cross over is marked with an orange ribbon on the ground. Having descended both the Class 3 and Class 4 gullies post-traverse now, I actually prefer the Class 4 gully due to the much easier route finding. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-09-21, By: oorg
Info: We reached the east gully around 8:00am and there was ice in the center of the gully. It was easily avoidable and began melting quickly when the sun started to hit it. A subtle reminder that WINTER IS COMING 

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