Crestone Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
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. Red Gully: Two snowfields on route, first is completely avoidable to the left with some nifty routefinding. Second is unavoidable, about 60 feet and managed easily with any sort of traction - crampons would be overkill. Both above 13,500. If you got up BH, I think the snowfields in the Red Gully were easier. LOTS of water so there less options than usual but still goes class three or easier the whole way. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-25, By: JaredJohnson
Info: Still some snow up broken hand pass, manageable with axe and traction. I wouldn't do it without them, we ran into someone on his way down who did and he said it was a nightmare and that he was an idiot On the peak there were two significant snow fields. The lower one could probably be completely avoided by sticking to a kinda loose route on climber's left. The upper one can be *mostly* avoided by taking the snow up to some rocks on climber's right and then sticking to the rocks to the top of the gully. We spent more time on the snow than we had to and we regretted it, it was not very pleasant -- too hard, especially coming down. Crampons would have made the ascent on snow quicker but might not be worth carrying steel ones all the way up the long approach. 
4 2
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-22, By: thadwalker
Info: Still lots of snow headed up to Broken Hand Pass, as well as in the Red Gully going up the peak. Hit the snow on Broken Hand around 630am, and made it up fine with axes and trail runners. Micro spikes would be good if uncomfortable on snow, but felt fine with just axes. The last few hundred feet to the pass was dry. The Red Gully still has a ton of snow, but we were able to avoid most all of it by staying on the left side of the gully on the way up. There are one or two small snow sections left between saddle and the summit, only about 5-10 feet long each. Snow in the gully was perfect for glissading down. Photo 1: Looking up snowfield on Broken Hand Pass. Photo 2: Looking down snowfield toward Colony Lakes. Photo 3: Looking up Red Gully Photo 4: Looking down Red Gully 
4
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-14, By: ian_havlick_mtnguide
Info: Pretty spicy conditions continue on the standard south face route. Steep snow still found on the lower 2/3rds of Broken Hand Pass as well as the upper half of the red gully on Crestone Peak. Full crampons, axe, and short-roping/short-pitching required yesterday (7/14) on successful peak ascent. The normally comfortable, flat, dirt platform at top of red gully still steep and deep snow. Snow familiarity still a must on this route- the snow is melting fast but lots of it to melt! Also caution for thin sun bridges is a must. Melt water under the snow is rushing pretty good. Micro spikes and no knowledge/practice of self arrest with proper axe would still a death wish. Mosquitos pretty rough at South Colony and Cottonwood Lakes, pretty much below 12,500ft. 4WD road seems rougher than years past. Other routes: Crestone Needle: Standard route mostly dry on route proper. Ellingwood Ledges, snow to the ramp sneek traverse and some spotty snow higher to Red Thumb. Ellingwood Arete-mostly dry North couloir looks horrible, rockfall ridden and spotty, intermittent snow and rotten ice. Crestone traverse: looks great, mostly dry, weather prevented us from undertaking the traverse yesterday. surprisingly little snow even under the Black Gendarme, etc. Would still require carrying full crampons and light axe for red gully and BHP. 
6 1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-06, By: kastfamily
Info: Climbed the Crestone Peak via broken hand pass down to Cottonwood lake then up south side. Recommend ice axe and crampons. The top 1/2 of the south approach is still full of snow. Also getting up to broken hand pass is snow filled. The very last 25 feet or less at the top of the Peak is dry. Two photos of south gulley. 
2 3
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2019-07-08, By: KyleRobison
Info: We went up to the South Colony Lakes hoping to climb Crestone Peak, but opted for Humboldt instead due to the considerable amount of snow still in the basin below Broken Hand Pass (see the pictures). The snow is melting quickly. On the way up to the lakes the trail was manageable for sure, but pretty wet with water trickling down and large puddles in some areas. I would say bring your snow gear (ice axe, crampons etc.) if you want to do either the needle or the peak within the next week or two. We ran into a party who attempted the needle with full winter gear and they turned back because of the amount of snow up there. The Ellingwood Ledges route seemed pretty much dry with the exception of some snow pack right at the base, although it's hard to say how conditions actually are on the wall without climbing it. There were two parties that did that route while we were there. Humboldt was summer conditions and very enjoyable. Incredible views of so many beautiful peaks from up there! 
3
 
Route: North
Posted On: 2019-06-28, By: pfiore1
Info: Just in case someone is seeking conditions on the Crestones and doesn't bother clicking on my Challenger and Kit Carson report, I am copying and pasting the Sangre's north aspect report with the Peak's title. For those who already read the Challenger report this is the same thing... I can't title the peaks described as a group so I just picked one, plus Challenger has the most snow coverage on the north side, after the fact I realized I probably should've labeled it as Crestone Peak since I provided more info on that than Challenger, oh well. Here are four photos and brief conditions for northern aspects of Kit Carson, Challenger, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and immediate surrounding peaks. The northern aspects of these peaks obviously have more snow than the southern aspects which I showed in a previous report for Challenger and Kit Carson, but to be very clear the southern aspects are also far from dry. Expect average April Sangre conditions for awhile longer. We had a technical rescue on Crestone Needle's Ellingwood Arete on Sunday June 23 because much more snow was encountered than expected. And I'm sure most of you are aware of the tragic accident that occurred in between and on the south aspect of Challenger and Kit Carson. Even sections where it looks dry, there are pockets of snow in crevices that may not be seen until you're on them. Take caution and prepare for snowier conditions than typical. Plan accordingly and be prepared to stay the night if needed. Ultra-light climbers need not apply. Pat Photo #1 North aspect of Crestone Needle to the left, Peak right of that followed by Columbia, Kit Carson and Challenger, #2 closer up north aspect of Kit Carson and Challenger (sorry the windshield frame is in the way of the OB Couloir but if you're wondering it's still in), #3 Crestone Peak's NW Couloir which is mostly, almost all, still in with a few thin sections, but note the approach to it is mixed, #4 a partially obscured by-the-window-frame view of both Needle and Peak but it should still give you a good idea of the snow from high, note the snow field on the Arete just below the Headwall and also the last couple hundred yards in the 3rd Class gulley to the summit is also mostly in snow. 
4
 
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: 2019-05-26, By: Will_E
Info: I started all the way at the bottom 2wd TH, road is dry up until Rainbow trail cutoff, then snow is off and on until the gate. From the gate there are dry sections, muddy sections, and finally becomes full on snowpack. From the trail sign on its consistent snow all the way to the peak, but is packed pretty well, I used snowshoes for a mile or 2, but it was as much to give my shoulders a break as anything else;), other than that I had spikes on. Most of Red Gully isn't bad with just spikes, but at the very top when it gets hella steep, the snow was really stiff and I struggled to get good bite. Don't be like me, take an axe and crampons. 
14 2
 
Route: North Couloir
Posted On: 2019-04-10, By: Pete Sowar
Info: Snow starts about 200 feet from the 2wd trail head. Only a couple of patches of dirt shortly after, otherwise snow all the way. The peaks are STUFFED! Lines are filled in that I have never seen before. Crestone Peak north couloir had excellent climbing conditions with great coverage. A small bulge of ice in the beginning led to perfect front pointing with the exit as clean as you have ever seen it. We ended up skiing the south face because it just looked too good to pass up. 
7 1
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-11-18, By: Hjelmstadlt
Info: Climbed Crestone Peak Via the Red Gulley from Cottonwood Trailhead today. The Trail had snow on it about a mile in and all the way to the top, most of it being ankle deep with some spots up to the knee. The Gulley can be climbed on continuous snow/ice all the way to the top although it is still fairly unconsolidated and we posthoped most of the way up. Most of the snow is a hard thin wind crust on top of two large layers of soft snow from the storms earlier this season. 
3
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-10-01, By: James2015
Info: Route was totally dry except for a trickle in red gully. Was surprised there was no snow in broken hand pass, though that may change this week... 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-09-30, By: Terminally_Chill
Info: We were planning the traverse initially, unfortunately high winds and visible snow on the final crux wall up the needle meant that we didn't feel comfortable attempting the traverse. Aside from the wind conditions were great. Some ice in the middle of the red gully but easily avoidable. 
 
Route: Approach from Cottonwood Creek
Posted On: 2018-08-15, By: Ptglhs
Info: Route is easy to follow trail for 1st 3 miles. After that rock slab with cairns on them are interspersed. Some deadfall, only 3 trees really annoying. 1st waterfall go up some S shaped roots under a big pine tree immediately to the left of the falls. Follow cairns and tape after that, stay left at creek merger where you can see 1 pink and 1 orange tape. Steep and loose slope after that around rockfall that turns into talus hopping. At about 11.6... Vaya con Dios. Trail disappears into dense willows hiding major ruts. Found the 'trail'/cairn segments coming down today. Tues night I just bushwhacked on the right side of the creek til I was within 150yards of the lake. Good camping near lake, in a field ~12k after 2nd waterfall and before 3rd headwall, and in the forest. Several sites with fire rings within eyesite of trail. Bear in area! Fresh scat in parking area and I surprised it coming down the trail almost at the TH. The thing was 20m away from me and running! 
 
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! 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-08-06, By: Zeffe
Info: Road is intimidating but we made it up OK in a Nissan Rogue minus a couple of light bottomings. Saw some Subaru Outbacks/Foresters up there... super chill for a 4Runner or similar, but can't imagine doing it with less than ~8 inches of ground clearance. Nothing special to report on the route. All summer conditions, water in the Red Gully is not a problem. We got hailed on at around 4pm on the way out. God speed to that sort of gumby looking couple at the base of the Red Gully getting ready to start up at 1:30pm. Somebody got yelled at that night, I'm sure. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-07-08, By: supranihilest
Info: The road to the upper trailhead is rough but there were Subarus and even a Mercedes crossover-type vehicle at the upper trailhead. The much maligned drainage pipe is easily avoided on climber's right/skier's left. There are several sections where large rocks pose much more of a danger. The remainder of the approach to South Colony Lakes is easy. You'll want to get there early on weekends, it's a total zoo and I had difficulty finding a reasonable camping spot. The ascent up to Broken Hand Pass is loose and steep and honestly the sketchiest part of the ascent. You will want to be very careful on the descent off the pass. The hike down the backside of the pass to Cottonwood Lake is steep and loose but is class 2 at worst. Once in the basin the route to the Red Gully is either very obvious trail or heavily cairned. The ascent up the Red Gully is far easier than up the Needle's gullies and is mostly steep hiking on smooth rock with very short sections of class 2+/3 in between. A small trickle of water runs through the gully in spots but is completely avoidable. There's quite a bit of rubble in the gully, especially on the sides and at the top, but it's easy to keep rockfall to a minimum. The last class 3 section from the gully's top to the summit is basically just ledge climbing on the Crestone's famed knobby, solid rock and makes the final 200 or so feet up very enjoyable. 
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2018-07-06, By: PBR Powered
Info: In summary: we ran up cottonwood canyon to camp in the basin, climbed peak, and traversed over to the needle. In a little bit more detail.... Cottonwood Canyon trail is 5.5miles and 4000ft vertical to make it to Cottonwood Lake. Unlike a lot of the previous trip reports, the trail is well marked with cairns and a super fun hike up. There are brook trout just waiting to pulled out the stream if that's your thing. After a night by the lake we summitted peak through the red gulley in close to two hours (6:30-8:30), We left the Peak summmit for the needle traverse at 9:05. Traverse offered little resistance minus a few major obsitcles. First, the black gendarm move is super fun and by far the hardest technical move in the route. The knifes edge is spooky, but not difficult. The crux up the summit... made me shit my pants.. I comfortably climb 5.11 in the gym but the vertical exposure creates a whole different animal. I guess it didn't help that we experienced some light light rain. But still, I shit myself. Be ready for 50+ ft of vertical, 15 ft of easier climbing (you think your at the top), and another 20 ft of vertical. Crazy shit for sure (pardon my french). Be careful with the downclimb down needle, bunch of gulleys which look legit, but you would die going down. Think we hoped over three ridges on the way down. Super fun mountain, but be careful out there. Happy trails. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2018-06-30, By: Cruiser
Info: Picture perfect conditions for the South face yesterday. The Crux move below broken hand pass had a bit of lingering snow but it was easily avoided. Rest of the hike was snow free. There was a little water running in the red guy but it too could be easily avoided. Wild flowers were really getting going. I crossed broken hand pass at 6:30am and didn't see another soul until I was back down from the summit at the base of the red gully. Who says the 14ers are crowded?!? 
2
 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2018-06-26, By: Sglm14
Info: Great day to do the traverse this past Saturday. Some wet spots going up the red gully on Crestone Peak but completely avoidable. Summer conditions on both peaks. 
1

Return to the main Peak Conditions page



© 2021 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.