Crestone Peak

Date to Climb: July 22, 2009

Date Climbed: July 17,2009

Elevation: 14,294

Range: Sangre de Cristo

Latitude: 37.96670, Longitude: -105.58530

Route: South Face, Red Gully, Class 3

Crestone Needle

Date to Climb: July 22, 2009

Date Climbed: July 17,2009

Elevation: 14,197

Range: Sangre de Cristo

Latitude: 37.96468, Longitude: -105.57667

Route: South Face ll, Class 3

Round-Trip Mileage: 3.9 (for the combo from the upper trailhead)

Pre-Climb Comments

A great day of scrambling on good rock. It's a very short distance, but a lot of climbing. Ray is is climbing the Ellingwood Arete while we are doing both the easy routes on the Peak and the Needle.

Post-Climb Comments

We wanted to do the traverse between the two peaks, but because of snow conditions, we opted to simply climb each peak individually.

Before 5, Monica’s phone alarm sounded - loudly. Still sleepy, (I guess) she wanted five more minutes because we heard it sound again and again before deciding to actually awake. Anyone else camping in the vicinity of her tent (us) also got to decide whether to sleep or snooze because the alarm was so loud. We went ahead and got up.

At 5:30 we left for Crestone Peak over Broken Hand Pass while Ray and Monica left to do Ellingwood’s Arete on the Needle (a 5.7 - medium grade climb). Jake was going to stay at camp by himself. Tethered to a tree, he had an unobstructed path to the open tent. (Other campers in the area also knew he was going to be home alone.)

Our path started going up immediately. Crossing several snowfields and talus fields we made it to the upper reaches of the gully. Loose scree and dirt topped off the difficult passage as it took almost an hour to look down to Cottonwood Lake.

Topping the pass we descended quickly to the high meadow. Passed the beautiful lake and continued to the Red Gully on the Peak.

Gads, the whole gully was filled with snow. I brought an ice axe, but Amy only had her trekking poles. We had to find a way around the snow.

Crestone Peak

Crestone Peak Summit Block

Moving to the left of the gully we started scrambling up the loose rock. The route was supposed to go up the center of the gully on very solid rock, but instead we were trying to route find a way through a 1500 foot maze in elevation gain. In general, the closer to the side of the gully the easier the passage.

At the top of the Red Gully we met a party coming up from the other side of the gully. They led the way to the top, which was basically a walk up ledges to the summit. They were going to traverse to the traverse, we were going to climb back down the gully and retrace our steps to Broken Hand Pass.

The route up to the pass from the west was easier, but it was still uphill.

From the pass we began the route on the Needle. After a trail leads us to the first of two gullys, we down climbed a few feet and then traversed into the center of the east gully. Ascending quickly we passed two climbers who confirmed directions for us.

Needle Summit

Denver climbers on summit of the Needle

About a thousand feet of great scrambling put us on the summit ridge. We saw a blue rope and thought of Ray. Unfortunately it was not Monica and him, but instead two nice guys from Denver who started just ahead of them.

Ray on the Needle

Ray on the Needle

We waited a while on top, left them directions on the route down, and descended as quickly as our tired legs would allow.

Note: Forgive us for complaining about our aches and pains, but every step is painful. We have tortured our bodies beyond the limits of comfort, but we only have eleven peaks to go!

Amy descending Needle

Amy descending the West Gully

We did not arrive at camp until 3, about an hour late; but the snow in the Peak’s Red Gully slowed up down considerably. We snuck up on the tent trying to catch Jake sleeping inside. He was inside, but was sitting up alert. Happily he noticed us dancing a welcome to us. As he moved around we noticed that he was not on his lead! He had been a free dog! No one complained to us about his behavior, but we did leave quickly. We were just happy that he did not run off, that would have ended our trip!

At 4:30 we decided we had to start hiking down to the car, about three miles away. We still had not heard from Ray and Monica but that was not unusual behavior. The problem was we had to climb Culebra Saturday morning and they did not allow dogs. Ray and Monica were going to keep Jake. We had no back up plan. We left them a desperate note. Our backup we devised was to plead with the ranch foreman, Carlos, to allow Jake to stay in the car while we climbed.

Monica at Camp

Monica back at camp

On the way down the road we devised a new plan, we would text them, they could recieve messages. Soon they answered: they were back in camp and packing, don't leave without them. Shortly after 8 they arrived at our car. Everyone piled in and we rode down the hill to the lower parking lot. With little fanfare we passed off Jake to Ray and Monica and we were off to find a trailhead in southern Colorado.

What a great trip. It was fun sharing with Ray and Monica. There was great climbing and hard successful days.

Off to Culebra!

Crestone Peak - July 17, 2009 summit check

Crestone Needle - July 17, 2009 summit check