Crestone Needle  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-08-24, By: mkim822
Info: There is no snow/ice to climb when heading up to Broken Hand Pass. Also, the route from the pass to the summit is for the most part dry. Just a little trickle of water on the "east" gully, but definitely avoidable. Hardest part of the climb was crossing the dihedral. I was able to climb down onto the rock floor that is between the dihedral, then climb up on the other side. There was no way I was going to leap across that. Route finding coming down was harder than going up. We had to keep checking our tracking line on our phone to make sure we were still on the correct route. Photos really helped with route finding. 
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2019-08-19, By: bludwig
Info: The whole traverse is snow free minus two tiny snow fields on the red gully in Crestone Peak. I recommend trying to descend the Needle with someone who came up or really look for the route. Even with GPX files, we went down the wrong gully making for an interesting day. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-08-11, By: Buckie06
Info: no need for ice axe or microspikes on Broken Hand Pass, the snow is mostly avoidable with two sections of very kicked in steps. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-08-08, By: desertdog
Info: Still a little snow (100 ft) on Broken Hand Pass, but you do not need snow gear. You can bypass the snow all together on climbers right. There is water running down the gullies but most of this can be avoided as well. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-08-05, By: kwhiteh2
Info: Made it up for a summit Sunday morning. Started from South Colony Lakes at 4am. There are 2 minor snow patches up to broken hand pass, and then a more significant one right and the base of the pass. I used my ice axe and microspikes to be safe on the incline and descent back down later. Beside this, the trek was cleared of snow. The dihedral was fun, since I'm not a tall person. I managed to leap across, which got my adrenaline going. I hit the summit at 7am, after some tough route finding led me astray a few times. Great climb overall! 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-08-04, By: PaulVee
Info: Photos of what (I think is) Broken Hand Pass from the trail up Humboldt from yesterday Sat 8.3.19. Hope this is useful. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-28, By: LivingOnTheEdge
Info: Broken Hand Pass: Three snowfields to deal with, increasing in seriousness from the lakes. The last one is about 150-200ft long and goes right up to the choke on BH Pass. We brought axes and microspikes and this felt about right for the conditions. Saw others with crampons. There were people who used our bootpack to gain the pass without traction or axes - not sure if this would have been possible if we hadn't led. To each his own, but I wouldn't feel comfortable descending without an axe at the very least. Steps were blowing out left and right later in the day and this feels like the kind of conditions that results in injuries this time of year. My guess is that next weekend will hold snow and the following weekend will finally be summer-ish conditions. South Face: Full summer conditions though there is more water than usual. We took the East Gully to the summit ridge. Felt like class four for probably 100-200 feet and then eases up. Descended West Gully to the dihedral crossover. Maybe it's just me, and this is my second time on the needle, but the move to get out of the dihedral feels like one stiff class four move or perhaps low five. You've got no good handholds and have to really trust your foot just to get out of the dihedral and then maybe one good one to trust while you smear in a shallow cup to shift your feet. Complicated by the fact that your boots are wet from the dihedral. Even worse if you are short. When I did it the first time, I was sure we crossed too early, but now I'm sure this is the standard route. No matter what, seems like more than a class three. Just my thoughts. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-23, By: Sbenfield
Info: Broken hand pass still some snow. Used crampons and axe although I think that is overkill. Spikes and poles would work just fine imo. Melting fast. Little snow ledge on the gully crossover made the move easier. Snowfree everywhere else 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-22, By: Tacocat Climbing
Info: Quite the day! Started at 3:45am from the Colony Lakes 4x4 TH. I knew I was in for a long day, and it didnt let me down. The path to the lakes is clear and only has a few parts with water running over it. Broken Hand Pass has some snow still at the top. An axe is 100% recommended. I was able to climb that part with no crampons due to the fact that the snow did not freeze the night before. Though I had my crampons with me if I needed them. I went up Crestone Peak first. The Red Gully is clear for about 80%, the last part still has snow right in the Gully. This snow that high up did freeze the night before and was super slick, very dangerous. I ended up finding a decent route up the left side which avoided all of the snow. Maybe some low class near the top before it rejoins the trail. I went up a gully that had some water running through it, which wasn't the best of ideas; it was slippery, the water made my fingers cold, and at the end it was a vertical and slippery wall to go up maybe a bit class 5. It would have been much better to stay more left, then go over the wet gully at the top of it (which is the way I went down) After finishing the Peak, I went back down to the lake to head for the standard route of the Needle. While passing the lake I was swarmed by mosquitos. Hundreds and hundreds all over me... I ran as fast as I could out of there, which burnt a ton of energy. It was unbearable and almost traumatising. The Needle conditions were just fine, some snow in the "east gully" but none on the route. I took the class 4 route and stayed on the "east gully" as described on the routes section. Im glad I did, it wasn't too bad and the rock was solid. Some of the best views from the top. All in all it took me 11hours19mins, and was almost 17 miles and 7145 feet of gain. One of my favorite hikes to this date! Video of the hike:: https://youtu.be/be3WY-iSyzA 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-21, By: SWilson
Info: Bridge at the stream crossing up to the old 4wd trailhead is collapsed but still usable. Broken Hand Pass is still holding snow up through the Class 3 section. The snow is like a slip n slide in the afternoon, definitely recommend your heel step and/or ice axe techniques be on point coming down. Ascended the east then west gulley. The dihedral has a snow bridge at the crossing and water running down the center. Descended the east gulley, completely dry all the way down. Did the hike/bike on the way up the access road, fun ride down in the afternoon. Mosquitos are no joke, bring plenty of deet. 
6
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-15, By: Peakbagger34
Info: Ice axe and crampons needed for Broken Hand Pass. The remaining route to the Needle is 99% snow free. 
1 2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-06-06, By: c13mueller
Info: We started at 2WD TH at 1030PM on 4 June. The path was extremely wet above the 4WD lot. A steady stream of water was flowing, starting as soon as you crossed the bridge. Intermittent snow started appearing about a half mile up, but you could still walk on the mud/rocks for a fair bit. Eventually snow covers the entire upper old 4WD road. Temperature was dropping and we were gaining altitude, so we pushed through without flotation or traction, but we did post-hole some. The tree bridge just above the upper old 4WD lot is broken, but usable. Above that crossing, an insane amount of snow is angled at around 45 degrees from the cliffs to the south down to the stream. Walking along the standard (invisible) path is arduous and required crampons for ascent, and snowshoes for the sunny descent. Since we couldn't find the actual path in the buried bushes, we cut north until we found the snow-buried stream maybe 1/4-1/2 mile below the lakes. Just walking up that was nice and easy. Walking along that 45 degree snow was arduous for our descent in snowshoes, so we just cut diagonally across the basin, aiming a little above the upper 4WD lot. Take care not to fall into any streams, but it was easy route-finding during the afternoon. We followed some ski tracks and kick-stepped up to broken hand pass. Sick of walking up at an angle, we ended climbing cutting over below the pass, and then climbing straight up. There's tons of snow, so you don't have to do any rock scrambling there. The ridge is dry, but there was plenty of snow as we maneuvered over to the couloir. This involved a fair bit of postholing, but it is only deep in a couple sections and melting fast. We should have ditched our snowshoes at the ridge. Route variations will include more or less small sections of rock climbing, but you can avoid the rocks almost entirely. We opted for the class 4 variation, because the traverse into the class 3 couloir was sketchy. Getting up on that spine required nearly vertical ice climbing on some shoddy snow/ice. The class 4 variation had good conditions to the top, but was sustained very steep climbing. I would have been very uncomfortable if it was any warmer. If you choose the class 4 couloir, just know that it only gets steeper from where you make that decision. We did a fair bit of glissading during our descent. The hardest part was getting back to the lake from broken hand pass. I think it would have been easier if we glissaded straight down to the lake and then snowshoed around it. Instead we followed the normal path which was perpendicular to something like 45 degree deep, soft snow. It involved a lot of falling and sliding in our snowshoes. We made it out before the storm and were at my car by 2PM. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-06-03, By: RyGuy
Info: As seen from near the Great Sand Dunes with long range lens 
1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-05-19, By: jmanner
Info: Camped at the lower S Colony Lake with the intention of skiing Crestone Peak and Needle, we were not able to make it happen when a storm rolled in early. BHP is super filled as well as Dogleg couloir on Broken Hand Peak. We were able to tour almost continuously from the upper TH to the lakes; skiing out we only needed to pop the skis off a few times: of the ~5 miles from camp to car, we probably only walked 2/3 of mile, with most of that after the upper TH. 
3 2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-04-20, By: SnowAlien
Info: Pretty straightforward climb up the east gully except for 2 rock bands with ice/running water. Easier on the way up than down. Otherwise great snow coverage in the couloir. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-03-31, By: bmcqueen
Info: My sled (not the cool kind) and I put in a trench up to South Colony Lake today. Had planned to stay two nights and do the peaks, but it turned out I left all my food at home. So I went back down. The snow on the approach from the lower 2WD TH is fairly supportive. I put snowshoes on at the summer TH, but flotation isn't critical until you leave the road. It snowed a good 8-10” today while I was up there. I'm not sure I was going to like BHP conditions tomorrow regardless, but the forgotten food and spare socks pretty well killed the attempt. 
1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-10-05, By: mrcub14
Info: Some ice and running water in the East gully, but it was avoidable. The route up Broken Hand Pass was dry. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-09-24, By: AlexeyD
Info: Mostly clear and dry. A bit of frozen dirt on the shady slopes just below Broken Hand Pass, and a small trickle of water (100% avoidable) in the east gully. West gully was dry. Some snow was visible on high north-facing aspects in the area. Gorgeous, bluebird weekend with few people. Near-peak colors along the access road. Perfect weekend for it! 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-09-13, By: Reverand
Info: We had a beautiful day of weather while we were climbing. Broken hand pass is somewhat of a chore at the beginning, but once you get to the pass, it is pretty fun scrambling. Loved the short hike from the pass to the east gully, great views. Climbing the East gully is fun, great rock, lots of hand holds foot holds. Crossing over to the West gully wasn't bad. This climb keeps it interesting and with the solid rock it is quite fun. Much more fun than just a slog up switchbacks to the top. This is probably my favorite climb so far. Pay attention on the way up so that you know your route coming back down. There are cairns and some pink markers to help you find the transition back to the east gully on the way down but you have to keep an eye out for them. The summit is small but has some excellent views. We had great weather so we stayed up there about 40-45 min until it started to get crowded (labor day weekend). This climb would not be fun with a late start, because the gullies are not fun with people coming up and down at the same time. Ominous clouds started moving in about 10:30am and when we got down the gullies the weather deteriorated fast. When we got down broken hand pass, people were just starting to come up, which I think is way too late in the day to be starting on this peak. 
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2018-08-12, By: dwoodward13
Info: Traverse from Peak to Needle. Standard route up to the Peak is in good shape. Broken Hand Pass kinda sucks but goes quick enough. Make sure to note where the left hand turn to enter the Red Gully is as you approach. We were powering up and went one grassy ledge too far but wasn't too bad to correct. Gully is mostly solid but there is some loose stuff that gets kicked down. The traverse start is well marked, as is the entire route. We didn't think the bulge was too difficult, but for shorter people you might have to be more creative (both of us were 6'2"+). The knife edge is quite exposed but easy enough to scoot along. The ledges to the crux wall are easy to spot. The crux wall is the real deal. We went far left. The first half was not bad with tons of holds. The second 50 feet, the holds start to dwindle and I felt the exposure much more here. Focus on only your moves and you will be at the rap station soon enough. Summit to summit took about 2 hours for us. We accidentally went down the class 4 variation from the Needle as there were quite a few cairns leading that way. Route down the gully is well marked and not too bad. Broken Hand sucked along with the walk back to the car but what's new. I would say if Capitols knife edge make you think twice even for a second, the traverse is not for you. Technically speaking we didn't think it was hard, but the exposure is extreme and combined with Class 4 climbing those last 100 feet to the Needle will test you! 

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