Crestone Peak  
Condition Updates  
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-10-08, By: Grisel
Info: Route was dry except for the top portion of Broken Hand Pass which held a little snow/ice. Microspikes would make it easier but manageable without. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-09-29, By: warpig79
Info: Weather was cold, windy and foggy. I made it within 100 fr of summit and had to turn back because the rocks were frosted over and very slippery. Fog burns off around noon. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-09-27, By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: All clear and good condition all the way up from upper trailhead to Broken Hand Pass to Red Gully. Straightforward route finding. Busy Saturday with 15-20 people heading up the gully and on the summit. Aspens from upper trailhead to basin were starting to turn too! 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-09-21, By: Troyister
Info: Very busy day on the mountain. Someone accidently broke loose a boulder about the size of a 5 gallon bucket from the very top of the red gully. It went down the whole gully with 20-25 people climbing and descending, very lucky no one got hurt. Route finding is very easy. The hardest part is climbing back over Broken Hand Pass at the end of the day when you are tired. Very fun climb. 
Route: NW Couloir
Posted On: 2021-09-17, By: thurs
Info: Some fresh ice in the NW couloir, but navigable to/from the Bear's Playground exit. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-09-09, By: denverfromdenver
Info: Labor Day weekend was packed as expected. Upper lot was full, so ended up parking near Rainbow Trail junction. Route up Crestone Peak, NE Crestone, and the traverse is still all dry and in summer conditions still. The S. Colony rd has greatly improved since the grading recently. Still high clearance, but there were subarus a plenty. 
Route: Cottonwood Creek to South Face
Posted On: 2021-08-24, By: wanderingsteve
Info: The approach from Cottonwood Creek is okay for the first three miles (albeit with a lot of downed trees), but not fun after that. From the first waterfall near 10,400, it's difficult to follow the trail and some parts are challenging with a big pack. I would not recommend camping above 11,400, because after that the trail is steep, still hard to follow, and there are some sections of scrambling required. The Red Gully is fun: solid rock, long, not super difficult, and wide enough to avoid any water. The Class 3 sections on Crestone Peak may be long, but I don't think they should intimidate you if you have some Class 3 experience. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-08-09, By: e_ad_
Info: Summer conditions. Arrival (F150 - big truck required) to the TH parking lot at Saturday - 1 spare spot, but on arrival to Lower S Colony Lk, a number of camping spots available. Early AM wayfinding can get tough up Broken Hand Pass - huge cairns to try not to miss, but we somehow missed them and went low-then-high, still ended up OK. Does get a bit soupy by Cottonwood Lake but no spare socks needed. Some water on the Red Gully up to Peak, but avoidable for the long slog. Traverse is easily navigable using 14ers.com guidance. Put on the climbing shoes from the 5.2 move under Black Gendarme, and from there, for me, feeling confident meant focusing on the rock in front of me, testing every hold, three points down, and focusing on improving my feet. Some light breeze and no sun on the route meant cold rock. I didn't have good gloves to climb in so had to keep warming hands - FYI. Personally, my friend and I both thought that the exposure on the headwall was NOT overstated and in fact he froze up midway up the headwall and I (surprisingly, as I was more concerned going in) jumped in to lead the final pitch. The exposure + no pro can get to even an experienced climber (he's more experienced than me and had even climbed the needle arete) so don't underestimate the headwall, even if the climbing itself is straightforward 4+ any fall after ~ the 5.2 move would be dangerous or deadly and the air under your feet can absolutely get to your head. Staying left is definitely easier climbing -- there's a pretty clear route about 3 feet right of fully left, but you're also the most exposed over there, and you still want to stay left of the crux move which is a little crack overhang about 40 feet up, and that's REALLY exposed. stay focused on each move and you'll be fine, if you can keep calm! PS don't sleep on the downclimbing from the Needle which in our estimation did reach some light class 4 and is tricky. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-08-07, By: Lordofthegnar
Info: Summer conditions the entire way. Decent amount of water flowing through the middle of the Red Gully, but easily avoidable and frankly quite pretty. Trail got a little soggy around Cottonwood Lake but also not too tricky to avoid. NOAA weather forecast breezy conditions with winds 15-20mph with gusts high as 30mph, so that made me a little nervous. Mountain weather indicated 10mph sustained throughout the day. The night prior to the climb, the wind howled while camping at South Colony Lake, but upon ascending Crestone Peak, I found the winds to be pretty mild. Went for the traverse and all was well! If you're worried about the wind, hit Crestone Peak and see how it is from there. A note on the crux wall: I feel like all the GoPro shots I watched made it seem way gnarlier. I was surprised how short the steepest part was, and while it got my heart rate up, I thought the class 4 ridge on Kit Carson was more intense. My two cents though - of course do your homework and come prepared I went way left and then moved back to the right a few feet. It is more exposed on the left but honestly you're going to be in trouble if you fall left or fall right, so I'd stick to the left as it's less steep. The right part of the wall looked terrifying but the left wasn't too bad minus one or two sketchy parts where I didn't like my foot holds. In line with others about the Needle - it is very tricky to stay on route and I found the steepness to be light Class 4 in some places. 
Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-08-06, By: ktfoote628
Info: Quite wet when we set out to backpack and do the Crestone traverse about 4 PM on Wednesday. Was surprised to see only a few open spots at the lower and upper trailhead, even on a Wednesday and spots were completely full PM on Thursday with lots of backpackers heading up. I think this area will be packed this weekend. Lots of water on the roads and trails that dried up a bit by the time we got back. The worse part was after descending BHP in the trails in grass around Cottonwood Lake (4" so inches on those trails). Red gully was also flowing very quickly with multiple streams but quite avoidable. Red Gully may be my favorite gully of the 50+ 14ers I have dne. It took us about 4 hours to get to Crestone Peak from a camping spot near the old Crestone mine (dodging puddles slowed us down a bit as well as got a bit turned around in the camping area/ Humboldt connector in the dark), 2.5 hours for the traverse and maybe 4-5 hours to get down from Needle. I thought the traverse was straightforward but we definitely got lost coming down from the Needle, since neither of us had gone up it, so study that part carefully! Overall, fun, beautiful, slightly smoky day. Bring waterproof shoes and a change of socks! 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-08-01, By: Msbaker
Info: Complete summer conditions. No snow on Broken Hand Pass and no snow in the red gully along the route. We backpacked in from the 2WD trailhead the night before (the road is awful - only trucks/tacomas/and 4 runners were at the 4WD trailhead). We camped near the "Crestone Needle Standard Route" sign (7 miles in), where there is ample running water to refill. We were the first ones up Crestone Peak in the morning (we left our campsite around 4 AM) and had the summit to ourselves with the sun rising. The red gully was manageable and for the most part solid rock. Although, the potential for rock falls is there with enough people in the gully at once. Views were unreal from the top! 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-07-26, By: wondering_hough
Info: Conditions were generally dry with the exception of wet bacon in the gully.... We did make the summit at 7 am, but in a mist that started at broken hand pass. It did not break but rather got worse and we cancelled our traverse attempt. The weather forecasts were wrong 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-07-18, By: Dayute
Info: Pretty much summer conditions. What snow there was in the red gully was small and easily avoidable. There is a bit of mud and water running down the trail down low from the recent rains. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-07-15, By: ClimberSkierDave64
Info: Started from the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead near Crestone and the mosquitos were the worst that I have seen anywhere. We tried not to stop at all because 50 of them would swarm you even with bug spray if you stopped walking. The trail is hard to follow from the slabs by the waterfall until above treeline so just watch for cairns and stay close to the stream. A GPS track is definitely useful. The Red Gully was straightforward, although there was one serious rockfall from above that almost hit my climbing partner, so definitely bring a helmet. The trail was actually surprisingly fast both ways considering you're gaining around 6,000 ft. Overall, a super good day! 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-07-14, By: Mtnman455
Info: Some snow going up BHP, but nothing to necessitate an ice axe or traction. There is a large snow field in the upper section of the Red Couloir, and previous climbers have ascended the length of this snowfield, but this is not necessary! It is possible to traverse the snowfield to the right for 10 secure steps to get to a band of class 3 rock and ascend parallel to the snowfield. No ice axe or traction needed. Once to the top of the gully, the official summit is to the left (west), but I climbed the right summit (east) as well, and I have little doubt that this eastern point is higher than the "official" summit. Seriously, everyone that only climbed the western summit is going to have to go back and climb this one again.  
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-07-11, By: oorg
Info: Broken hand pass is still holding a bit of snow. I didn't think an ice axe nor spikes were warranted here. I brought both along, but it wasn't even a thought to get either out. Likewise, the red gully was holding a good amount of snow. Most, if not all, was completely avoidable with careful route finding while keeping it to class 3/4. We did cross a couple snow patches late morning and once again, I didn't even think about getting out spikes or my axe. If I were to go back tomorrow and repeat, I would definitely not have brought spikes or an axe, however if you're on the fence, it's better to have the gear and not need it than to need the gear and not have it. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-07-11, By: Mountain_Maniac
Info: Did the Peak to Needle traverse from the Cottonwood Approach and wanted to provide an update on FoxintheForest's useful conditions post. There is one avoidable snow patch midway up the Crestone Peak red gully and another more troublesome snow patch up higher in the gully (see pic). I was glad I had an ice axe for the second higher snow patch as there was no easy way to get around it (we didn't look very hard for a workaround though because we had axes with us) - hopefully someone will provide an update soon on getting around it without an axe. This was the only spot where I felt an ice axe was useful but can't speak to South Colony Lakes side of Broken Hand Pass as we didn't go there. There is water running down the gully but it is avoidable and didn't give us any issues. The entire traverse route was dry - no snow or moisture near the 5.2 bulge which was nice. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-07-05, By: FoxintheForest
Info: Did the traverse. Would strongly recommend an ax - as the last report stated there is a good amount of steep snow in the red gully and BHP (sketchy descending later in the day without an ax - a slip here would certainly be serious and people ruin the bootpack by glissading down it). Snow is mostly trash with no overnight freeze for a while and it's still rather thick. Red gully has running water and is often unavoidable so check your hands and footing as you move - sticking left had less obstacles. If you're doing the traverse, there are several (at least three) steep snow crossings that aren't easy to avoid and having an ax is helpful. Again, a slip without protection would certainly injure you. The rest of the traverse is dry until the bulge. There is one (obnoxiously) tiny strip of snow/ice exactly below your feet on the first move. It's very small, but unavoidable unless you're tall enough to stand on the lower ledge. Not sure when it will melt, that area doesn't see a lot of sun. Hopefully it'll be gone soon. Be sure to wipe your shoes dry on your pants before you move upwards. We are both experienced alpine climbers and we both had our feet slip off the deck - thankfully we had good handholds and are solid climbers cuz again - a fall here would have been sketchy. Thought the headwall was a bit over-hyped, but it was still an enjoyable day out. Have fun. 
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Route: Crestones Traverse
Posted On: 2021-07-04, By: Veory
Info: BHP and Crestone peak still had some significant snow, especially in the red gulley. Ice axe was useful but can do without by going around far left on the way up and left again to catch the traverse on the way down by doing a little class 3+/4 and crossing the snow only horizontally. Rest of the traverse and decent on the Needle had no snow. Got off route several times and had to do more climbing than required, so make sure route-finding skills are solid 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2021-06-27, By: littlehiker
Info: Caveat: It snowed today (6/27) so these conditions are already a bit out of date, but in case the fresh snow melts quickly this may still be relevant: BHP has a few quickly-melting snow fields. The traverses especially below the pass felt a bit sketchy, especially later in the day (return). The red gully has quite a bit of snow still, but the climbing remained pretty good staying almost entirely to the left of the snow. One sketchy point involves passing close to a rushing waterfall in the gully that drops underneath the snowfield (more of an issue if the rock is wet, and on the way down). Near the top, we did not go to the "notch", but climbed up more directly to the summit, and this was *mostly* still class III. Rock felt solid. 
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