Elevation: 14,294 ft
GPS: 37.967, -105.585 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 89,168 total · 397/month
Shared By: Ben Mottinger on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
Today
43°F - 32°F 6°C - 0°C
Tue
43°F - 31°F 6°C - -1°C
Wed
47°F - 33°F 8°C - 1°C
Thu
50°F - 34°F 10°C - 1°C
Fri
49°F - 32°F 9°C - 0°C
Sat
45°F - 29°F 7°C - -2°C

Description

Some of the most jagged and spectacular peaks in Colorado--The Crestones. Both the Crestone Peak (14,294') and the Crestone Needle (14,197') are also two of the most difficult 14'ers in Colorado. They lie within wilderness in the narrow Sangre de Cristo Range in the south central part of the state. The best climbing season is from late June-September although there are some good snow/ice climbs also. There are several technical routes in the Crestone group including Ellingwood Ledges (part of Fifty Classic Climbs of North America) and the NW Pillar on the Peak.

In addition, there are some 14'ers including Humboldt Peak (14,064'), Challenger Point (14,080'), and Kit Carson (14,165') and bunches of 13'ers including Broken Hand Peak (13,573'), Lone Horn Peak (13,143'), Mt. Adams, (13.931'), Colony Baldy (13,707'), Milkwaukee Peak (13,522'), Marble Mt. (13,266'), Music Mt. (13,355') in the area to supplement your hiking needs.

Getting There

The shortest (although not best) approach to these peaks is via the East side. Drive to Westcliff from CO Hwy 96. Go 4.6 miles. S on CO 69, the take 119 5.6 miles to 120. Turn right and take the dirt road to a gate. Cars without 4WD Low should park here and walk the remaining 5 miles to the trailhead. Those with a good vehicle can take the 4x4 trail. Eds. the 4WD road is closed 3 miles from the old 4WD trailhead. Note that this 4x4 trail is not easy. I would not attempt this trail in any vehicle without 4WD, good tires, and plenty of clearance. FWIW, in the old days, 4WD vehicles were only barely faster than walkers on the last 3 miles.

From the new trailhead, you walk 3 miles up the gentle grade of the old 4WD road. Just before a stream crossing, you have a choice. You can head right up a more forested trail that gets you to just above the Lower South Colony Lake or continue up the slightly longer left fork that approaches the Lower South Colony Lake from below.

If you access the Broken Hand Pass (Standard Crestone Needle access), the trail switchbacks quickly from near the SE corner of the Lower South Colony Lake. There is no established trail on the southern shores of South Colony Lake.

Alternative approach: From the West side, take the Cottonwood Creek trail 6 miles and about 4500 feet of elevation gain to the lake on the Crestones SW side. I prefer this approach since there are far less people and the scenery is nicer.

Camping

There are camping spots around the Upper and Lower South Colony Lakes that are heavily used by peak baggers. Note, although closer to the starts of the climbs, there is little wind protection around Upper South Colony Lakes due to its being above treeline. You must camp 300 feet from any water source. Ear plugs may help for good sleep with windy conditions. Protecting your food from inquisitive animals is recommended. Water treatment is strongly advised.

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Crestones

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