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Crestone Peak North Buttress 

YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c PG13

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 1100', Grade III
Original:  YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c PG13 [details]
Page Views: 7,139
Submitted By: Kevin Currigan on May 27, 2006

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A section of awesome climbing on really solid cong...


According to the guidebook I had, you simply hike to the base of the large buttress and start up going hand over hand following the easiest line. That describes it fairly well. However, it is very easy to get into more than 5 easy. I also found the rock to be good at times and really scary at others. When you get within 300' of the top you can continue to the top of the east pinnacle or traverse into the top of the NW couloir to get round to the southeast side of the peak for the finish.


The first time I attempted this we followed the ridge from the Humbolt Saddle-bad idea. It undulates over steep ground with huge plates of loose rock. The second time I took the direct line out of the cirque right up to the buttress. The first part of the line seems to be easy to locate; right at the start of the 4th class. However, staying on 4th class rock proved difficult for me as I spent much of my time on exposed 5.6 type choss. Getting off via the standard south face route is best. Going down this thing looked really hairy. Of course, then you have to hike up 600' to Broken Hand Pass. You could also traverse over to Crestone Needle as was my plan. However, that fizzled when I realized that was going to be a bit too much of a day for me.


I would say a partner, a light rack, and a rope would be a good idea. Make sure the batteries in your head lamp are fresh. Study the route off of the peak, because this one really wanders.

Photos of Crestone Peak North Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Approximate line of the North Buttress, Crestone P...
BETA PHOTO: Approximate line of the North Buttress, Crestone P...

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By Kevin Currigan
From: Lakewood
May 18, 2008

If you want to see a good photo of this mountain's north face, go to Under Kit Carson, there is a 360 degree panorama. You can see the line perfectly looking SE. It's a great shot.
By Daniel Trugman
From: La Jolla, CA
Aug 3, 2009

Your description sounds like it is for Crestone Peak's North Buttress, not a route on the Needle....
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Aug 30, 2010
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

Based on a USGS topo, this route probably starts at about 13,300, and tops out on East Crestone at about 14,240, so only about 900 vert feet total (maybe ~1100+ with the traverses). I solo'd it in ~1.5 hours, so not Grade IV.
By Todd Ra
From: Golden
Aug 8, 2014

Did this route a couple days ago and had a few things to add:
1) Doing the route from the Humboldt saddle is not necessarily a bad idea. The traverse from there is a fun class 3 scramble in and of itself.

2) The Buttress starts pretty much immediately after you get to the peak. We got a little lost trying to make it to further ridge lines thinking we were on the wrong one. Also, don't follow the cairns into the NW couloir!

3) Lastly, forget the rope and rack. The crux is downclimbing and traversing with very sparse pro, and it will drastically slow your progress. We did almost all of it in hiking boots no problem. Took out the rock shoes just for some peace of mind halfway through the crux :)

Super exposed, super awesome!

Definitely go for the traverse afterwards. It's a cakewalk after the Buttress and makes a great tour.

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