CRESTONE NEEDLE 14,197'
21 August 2012
On my way over to the trailhead yesterday, I drove under a full rainbow as I passed through Salida. If that’s not a good omen, I dunno what is.
Crestone Needle is another peak and route that ranks up there among my very favorites so far. The class III segment was long, but the knobs were solid and there were plenty of them from which to choose. I’d gotten another alpine start, departing the trailhead just after 330a, so I was climbing up the east-switch-west gully just below the summit pretty early this morning. In fact, the rock was still just a little slick. I even saw snow and ice in some sections. Can you believe that?!
The climb was awesome, and the route was well-marked, including the challenging section where I traversed a rib to leave the east gully and enter the west gully for the final push to the summit ridge. That’s the part where people tend to get turned around.
The weather was still holding beautifully when I gained the summit, right around 10a (I think). I enjoyed the wonderful view. It was nice to have that kind of summit to myself. I could see three fourteeners, so close I could almost reach out and touch ’em: Humbolt Peak, Crestone Peak, and Kit Carson Peak. The drops were drastic on all sides, save the one I’d come up, which was only slightly less so. I took a traditional summit photo, then hit the proverbial road. It was a long climb/hike down. (The total round trip route to the lower trailhead is over 18 miles.) Much to my surprise, the down climb was far more fun than the up on this one. Yippikiyay.
My knees had been talking to me for most of the weekend, but they were screaming as I made my way back to the car. Let’s be honest, I’ve just wrapped up a tough (but equally fun!) weekend. Tomorrow will be a welcomed easy day. We’re prepping for our next Capitol hitch, which won’t even really get underway until Thursday afternoon. I’m looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow…and Thursday? I’m not doing any summits next weekend; it’ll be my first real weekend off pretty much since I got here. Work hard; play hard.