Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2017
Date Climbed:   09/01/2017
Author:  glett74
 Humbolt just before Labor Day  

After climbing Blanca Peak on the south end of the Sangre De Cristo range earlier in the week, we drove to Westcliffe and prepared to hike in to the South Colony Lakes for a summit attempt on Humbolt. We had a group of 11 who all piled into a Chevy 4X4 Sierra to make the drive to the upper trailhead on Thursday morning (8/31).
4X4 Chevy Sierra to the upper trailhead

The drive to the upper trailhead saved about 2.5 miles of hiking and took less than 30 minutes. It is a 4X4 road which can be easily navigated in a stock 4X4 with average or better clearance.

Once at the parking area at the upper trailhead, we strapped on our backpacks and headed up the continuing road (now gated and inaccessible to vehicles) to find a camping spot near the South Colony Lakes. It was an easy road hike with firm rocks and dirt. The road hiking takes you about another 2.35 miles to a junction with nice signs describing the wilderness area and early settlement history.
Signs at the Junction to Humbolt or Crestones

Going left at this junction takes you towards Broken Hand Pass and the Crestones on the south side of the lakes. Going right takes you towards Humbolt Peak and the north side of the lakes. We took the right and were immediately on a standard hiking trail very well maintained and easy to navigate. Another 3/4 of a mile of significant elevation gain and we found a perfect camp on the left side of the trail.

The campsite was full of good wood for a fire, plenty of tree cover, flat spaces for tents, right next to running water and maybe my favorite base camp to date. We settled in and enjoyed the mountains.
Great campsite!

We woke early and left for Humbolt at 5am on Friday (9/1). The forecast was calling for rain and storms by noon, so we wanted to get up and back down by late morning. We hike up out of the trees and to the base of the switchbacks in the dark. About half way up the switchbacks to gain the ridge, the light of dawn helped us start seeing our remaining trail. It was windy and somewhat cold and mostly cloudy. From camp to the ridge was 1.4 miles and the switchbacks weren't too bad.
Early morning at the ridge

Once you gain the ridge there is about 0.8 miles of minor rock climbing, nothing over Class 2 and zero exposure. There are several well cairned routes along the ridge and through the rocks. There are two false summits until you gain the final short and relatively flat pitch to the real summit. This short ridge walk to the summit was gorgeous at 7:30 am with some minor exposure on the north side.

We reached summit just before 8am and it was very windy and cold. Air temps were probably in the mid-30's with 25-30 mph wind gusting to 40 mph. We briefly took pictures and enjoyed the beauty and then headed back down to warm up.

Overall, Humbolt was one of my favorite 14ers to date. It is a breathtaking view of the Crestones and surrounding mountains, fairly east to hike with no big trouble spots and had several very good base camp spots beneath the lakes.
Final walk to the summit

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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