WTK: Conditions on Crestone?


Original Post
Ryan N · · Bellingham, WA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 195

Planning on leaving Denver on Thursday climbing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and hitting Prow, and Ellingwood. Want to know conditions around the area.

Thanks
Ryan

J Jenk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 5

Was just up there last weekend and did Ellingwood. Barely stepped in snow the whole time. The route was in great condition. Only a bit of snow at the bottom of the decent, might be gone by now. We talked to another party that climbed the Prow. Didn't ask them too many details, but they didn't mention any terrible conditions.

Jason Antin · · Golden, CO · Joined May 2009 · Points: 1,265

Ryan,
We did the Crestone Traverse (Needle to Peak) last weekend on 7/2/11. We camped @ South Colony Lake and summited the Needle via the Standard Route. We encountered very little snow on the approach and a tiny bit of ice as you gain the saddle of Broken Hand Pass, but other than that it's smooth sailing. We did a bunch of peaks in the area (Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Humboldt, Kit Carson, Challenger, etc...) in tennies. The only advice I'd give you is to be careful on the descent. We downclimbed the Northwest Couloir by accident, which certainly provided a little extra bonus excitement.

Concerning The Prow: We didn't get on the route, but from the looks of it (and the climbers cruising up it), the route appears dry and doable!

Have fun!

Jason

A little snow to deal with, but nothing major.

The Crestones.

Jenny gaining the summit of Crestone Needle via Red Gully.

Conditions on the Traverse.

The final and easiest portion of the Northwest Couloir descent...don't go this way!

Ryan N · · Bellingham, WA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 195

Thanks for the info and pictures.

Stuart Paul · · Denver, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 230

AntinJ,
Please tell us more about the conditions in the NW Couloir. Ice? Rockfall? It looks like a good glissade to me in the picture. Why so sketch?

Also, tell us about your traverse from needle to peak. Any good beta for getting around the three gendarmes.

Thanksdude

Jason Antin · · Golden, CO · Joined May 2009 · Points: 1,265
Stuart Paul wrote:AntinJ, Please tell us more about the conditions in the NW Couloir. Ice? Rockfall? It looks like a good glissade to me in the picture. Why so sketch? Also, tell us about your traverse from needle to peak. Any good beta for getting around the three gendarmes. Thanksdude
Stuart,
By traditional alpine standards, the Northwest Couloir was not sketchy at all. It consisted of your standard, wet and loose rock with some occasional verglas in some of the thinner constrictions. We down climbed the route in sneaks which required some serious focus (no fall mentality) for a majority of the descent. The Snow slope could very well have been carefully glissaded granted you had an ice axe to arrest and you'd have to hit the snow at the right time of day. We were descending later in the day and it took a good bit of effort to kick good steps. If you were to loose control while descending or glissading, you would not have a clear run-out, as the there are plenty of boulders to run into! Aside from that, it was a fantastic line with lots of cool rock.

The Needle to Peak traverse was great as well! Gerry Roach describes the traverse very well in his book: Colorado's Fourteeners

However I would give you two pieces of advice: Don't take on the Black Gendarme by way of the "Technical Only" (SW) path; head NW and down in 4th Class Terrain. If you go past the "Technical Only" sign, you'll be in for some mid-5th class climbing. If that's something you're interested in, the climbing is straight forward, but super exposed.

My second piece of advice would be to stay LOWER than you think you need to. We did lots of unnecessary up & downing mainly because we attempted to stay on the ridge proper.

Other than that...Have Fun!

J
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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