Crestone Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2020-07-12, By: jslove1
Info: I wanted to add other recent info that I did not encounter any mosquitoes, although there were a lot of flies (not biting fortunately) at night at the upper parking lot. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-07-05, By: DenverHiker
Info: Basically Summer conditions from South Colony Lakes. Broken Hand Pass - ok without spikes or axe but helpful with small snowfield. Red Gully - per previous reports snow is 95% avoidable. Take climbers left up on the largest snowfield. Snow melt is causing some rockfall in the red gully. Be mindful of other climbers near you and wearing a helmet is always recommended. Pictures: 1. Largest snowfield from almost above it. climbers ascending climbers left of snowfield. 2. Broken Hand Pass 3. Broken Hand Pass 4. Above largest snowfield to the top. I crossed here and stayed climbers right up. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2020-07-03, By: noexit33
Info: Camped at S Colony Lakes. Surprised at how busy it was even on a weekday. Camping here on a weekend would be difficult based on the number of parties I saw coming in on my way out Friday. No real mosquitos to speak of yet but a lot of sheep and way more aggressive marmots than I have seen before For me and many other groups on the mountains today there was nothing on these routes requiring traction or ax. A few snow crossings but very good boot pack and only very short crossings. Most of snow avoidable. Very fun route. Routefinding on the traverse was relatively straight forward but the downclimb from the needle was definitely an adventure. Don't go down the first gully you encounter from the summit. I crossed over to the West gully above the spot indicated and thought that was pretty easy. Shoutout to J&J. Thanks for the help with the routefinding and the good company. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-28, By: pbarn
Info: Snow patches still on route up Broken Hand Pass from SCL, and in Red Gully. Mostly avoidable, but an ice axe is still very handy. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-29, By: krojanen
Info: Hiked from Cottonwood Creek...LONG day. First 3-4 miles pretty manageable (no issues via headlamp), and then as others have stated the last ~500 or so feet gets pretty tedious route finding and bushwhacking through willows. Very scenic though with some beautiful waterfalls en route. Had no issues up the red gully, snow is 99% avoidable. Crossed over the second higher snow patch to climber's right, maybe 8-10 steps with good boot pack and felt no need for traction or axe there. The remaining route to the summit was completely dry. We left the TH at 4:45am and returned at 4pm, had maybe a 30 minute break on the summit. GPS tracked just over 16 miles RT and almost 6,200 in vert. There didn't appear to be much in the way of good dispersed camping spots at the TH, there was one decent-ish spot just around the bend on the left past the parking area that we pitched our tent in. Flat but at a smidge of an incline, though I actually slept better than I expected. Mosquitos did not disappoint so bring bug dope. Lastly make sure you have directions to the TH, from the town of Crestone it's pretty straight forward, basically 5.3 miles past the Baca Grande Chalet entrance (just don't search "Cottonwood Creek Trailhead" in your GPS or you will end up on a residential street of the same name). All in all an exhausting but pretty bad ass day and a post hike burger and beer at Crestone Brewing was icing on the cake. 
 
Route: South Face via Cottonwood approach
Posted On: 2020-06-23, By: jahselassie
Info: Snow still in the Red Gully but mostly avoidable. We carried crampons, spikes, and axes. After the first snowfield mentioned in Jareds report, you can stay climbers right and avoid the snow to the summit. 
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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? 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. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-06-10, By: joshwillins
Info: Myself, and 2 others were turned around at Broken Hand Pass. The wall of snow in the gully was soft power over melting ice. Seemingly impossible without crampons and ice axe. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-05-31, By: jcamacho32
Info: Dry conditions up to the red gate. Then snow patches 2-3ft deep. the ground got pretty marshy where the plateaus were. once we hit the Crestone peak (standard sign) we rock scrambled up to the shoot. That was all covered in snow up to the saddle. Ice axes not required. Once over the saddle things cleared up for the decent to cottonwood lake and up the hill till we reached the red rock couloir. That was all covered in snow. We did use our ice axes to traverse from rock bank to rock bank. to the summit. Thunderstorms rolled in around 3, don't recommend being up there that late in the day. Rained late afternoon. All in all the track was a little grueling and might be more enjoyable in the summertime when the snow melts. If the snow melts and someone finds a gopro... near GPS (37.966852, -105.584605) in the red rock valley. I lost it in our snow slide down the valley. If you wouldn't mind trying to return it, that would be awesome. Else, enjoy your mountain loot.  
 
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: After summitting the Needle, we summited the Peak. the trail over to the Peak from the needle by Cottonwood Lake was wet with snow patches that were able to be walked over. I post holed only a few times, not enough to bring snowshoes. The bottom portion of this trail up to the Peak is mostly dry, but the last 1500ft is couloir climbing. It is completely covered in snow. This was unexpected but thankful we had ice axe and traction. Crampons would help here, but we were completely fine without them. The couloir is too steep for snowshoes. Gear Needed: Ice axe and traction 
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: Hjelmstadlt
Info: Standard Route of The Needle from Cottonwood Lake up is completely snow free, although very wet. The Traverse is about 95% snow free with a couple sections of horrible mashed potato snow postholing. The Red Gulley is sun cupped and mushy but firm enough to glissade. Cottonwood Creek approach is pretty good, snow line is approx. 12,000ft, and any snow is completely rotted through to the ground so be prepared to posthole if going through snow. 
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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). I was expecting a full on trail breaking adventure past the rainbow trail turnoff, but to my surprise there is some sort of heavy machinery track all the way to the old S. Colony Lakes trailhead. This saved me an hour or two of trail breaking. Still had to break trail beyond that point, until Broken Hand Pass, when I needed crampons to get up to the top. After that, back to snowshoes until reaching Red Gulley. Red Gulley was pretty good until the final 200'-300', then it became hard as ice, had to really be careful and rely on ice axe for security. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2019-10-07, By: wintersage
Info: The 4WD road to the South Colony lakes trailhead is in good shape, a stock Jeep Liberty was able to make it without a problem. The damaged drain pipe has either been removed or covered because we did not even notice it. The approach to Crestone peak is completely dry. The report by dwoodward13 below is still completely accurate. No more running water in the red gulley, it is now iced over, but it can be completely avoided. The entire length of the traverse is dry, some sections have chunks of ice like youd find in your freezer but it does not pose an issue. The descent from Needle is completely dry as well. We took the Class 3 gulley as well by following GPS and the cairns. Very easy to miss it and get lost. 
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Route: Northwest Couloir
Posted On: 2019-09-27, By: Wentzl
Info: This route was full of ice on Thursday, Sept. 26 BUT I was able to navigate around the ice in trail running shoes. No axe. No spikes. This won't be open much longer this season and I would suggest NOT using as a descent off the Peak. Required significant exploration on the face to the east of the couloir. Traverse Peak to Needle still summer conditions 
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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: 2019-09-16, By: bosnian2014
Info: The route is almost completely dry, true summer conditions. Some water trickling down in the Red Gully but easily avoidable. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-09-03, By: Hershel
Info: The route is clear of snow and the only thing to avoid is loose rocks and water running down the middle of the red gully. The water is completely avoidable, and most of the route contains rock free class 3 sections that can be navigated with some fun scrambling. To avoid loose rocks and water, you'll need some back and forth from one side of the gully to the other, as suggested in the route description. There are some segments in which the loose rocks can't be avoided. Assuming you're comfortable on class three and with some form of rock climbing, then I think you'll find this to be very fun and 'easy' as class 3 goes. The exposure is low until you reach the notch at the top of the gully. The difficulties lie in the length of this route. Be forewarned - If attempting from South Colony Lakes, this route is not super fun when returning over Broken Hand Pass. You'll mostly likely be tired which makes for some slow going. When getting back to South Colony Lakes, you'll have many high fives and cartwheels from the exhilaration of being done with the pass! 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-08-19, By: polar
Info: Since there hasn't been any condition report in over two weeks, might as well give it an update. A tiny snowfield left right above the start of the Crestone traverse, but you don't need to go anywhere near it. A little bit of running water in the red gully from the melting snow, also completely avoidable. We encountered some mosquitoes at Cottonwood TH but not at Cottonwood Lake around 6pm (although we didn't camp at the lake), so hopefully the buggers are dying out. Crestone Traverse is completely snow-free. Photo #1: looking up the red gully. Photo #2: looking down the red gully near the start of the Crestone Traverse Photo #3: pulling over the crux bulge on the traverse 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2019-08-02, By: Cranfillpe
Info: S Colony 2WD > Crestone Peak N Buttress > Crestone Traverse > Crestone Needle S Face (w Gulley, SR) > BHP > TH I "biked" from the 2WD TH to the wilderness zone at 11,000'. Was able to actually ride probably 2/3-3/4 of it. Would highly recommend. The descent from 11,000' (5.2 mi to TH) took 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2019-07-31, By: S-Parx
Info: Cottonwood Lake TH > C. Peak South Face > Traverse > C. Needle South Face Route was nearly clear of snow with a lingering, unavoidable snowfield right above where the traverse starts on Crestone Peak Red Gully. Climbed it with spikes and an axe. I used the axe to self arrest on the descent, but many others made it up and down safely without axe/spikes, some without poles. Traverse was easy to follow with cairns, no lingering snow on the traverse nor on Crestone Needle. Skeeters were hellacious at the Cottonwood Lakes TH and at the lakes proper. Worst I have ever seen in Colorado, hopefully not as bad for you. 
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