How to get there:
From the small town of Westcliffe, go 7 km south on Hwy. 69. Take the road
called Colfax Lane right, then follow it straight south until it ends in a T,
go right there towards the Crestones.
Just before this road gets rougher there is
a road that heads south (left), ignore this and proceed straight ahead. There
is parking here for ordinary cars.
The jeep road that continues up the hill
is quite rough, but I had no severe problems driving my Jeep all the way to
the road closure (3371 m), about 8 km, however the driving time is easily 1.5 hours.
The road crosses the creek about half way, on average the second part is quite
a bit rougher than the first, so some vehicles/drivers may find it reasonable
to park there.
The trail from the end of the jeep road to (lower) South Colony Lake (3554 m)
is about 2.3 km. This trail starts out along the left side of the river, and
stays to the left in the largely flat first section of the valley. Thereafter,
the trail climbs a very distinct hill to get up to the lake while curving right.
In early June there was quite a lot of snow making it difficult to follow the
trail. The hill has many fallen trees, but one can generally hike up pretty
much anywhere as long as one stays well left of the creek. Route description:
The first part of the route from our Base Camp at South Colony Lake
to Broken Hand Pass is the same as described on the route to
Crestone Peak. From the pass, there is a good trail that climbs the
first part of the ridge towards Crestone Needle.
The first climbing move comes as one traverses a small ledge and steps
across to reach a distinct small notch. From this notch we climbed up,
partly in a narrow crack to reach easier terrain above. However, as
indicated by a cairn, one can alternatively descend along a trail
(heading left) from this notch and avoid this initial climbing.
In both cases one will find a distinct couloir that leads all the
way to the horizon. This couloir is termed the west couloir in
Roach's guide. At this time it was completely filled by snow and since
we had left crampons and ice axes behind on the ridge further below, we
just touched the snow in order to move around a corner, then scrambled
right on dry rock. Given the conditions as described, we proceeded to
climb what is termed the east couloir all the way, this is parallel
to the west couloir, but a bit to the right. This couloir is really
quite shallow and wider than the more inset, distinct west couloir.
The slope is initially gentle, then a bit steeper section followed again
by more gentle terrain. At the top, we hiked across the top of
the west couloir on a narrow rock band, then proceeded to the summit
proper. There is great exposure to the right, all the way down to
Base Camp. Comments:
I did this climb with my son Pål Jørgen, age 12.
We started from Base Camp at 0715, reached the Broken Hand Pass around
0830 and the summit 1115. About half an hour on the summit, then back to
Broken Hand Pass around 1330. The weather looked stable and we proceeded
directly to climb Humboldt Peak, see this entry.
We were the only party to summit the Crestone Needle this day.