Crestone Needle

P E A K    D A Y

This is Broken Hand Pass from the bottom.  The top of this gets you to 12,900 feet.

Getting close to the top of Broken Hand...

Once you clear Broken Hand, there is a significant distance (under a mile) without much elevation gain.  Where Jim is resting is something of a jumping off point; from here on, it's all C4/C5.  This is about 13,300.

Adam and a partially disrobed Kenn at the jumping off point.

View from the jumping off point, back towards Broken Hand.  This is looking down the opposite side of the mountain from South Colony Lakes.

And so it begins.  This is the slight C5 descending off of the jumping off point, just below the major couloirs that ascend to the peak.

This is Dan just below me in the couloir that we elected to climb, which I gather was not the easiest.  The smallest figure below is Kenn turning back. 

Dan and I waiting it out at the same spot.  This view is intended to give you a sense of the verticality of where we were.  We could basically lean in place, but not sit. 

Jim, Adam, and Ned had gone on ahead up a somewhat dubious route (what one climber had warned us was "some impossible shit").  Dan and I were waiting for the word via radio as to whether or not this was a viable route.  Plus, I was experiencing mild symptoms of altitude sickness.  We hung here about 30 minutes, during which time I miraculously seemed to acclimate sufficiently to complete the climb.

One final view from the same spot, looking back out towards the same valley as pictured in the jumping off spot, just to give a sense of scale.

Dan and Jim at the top.

Ned, Darren, Jim, Adam, and Dan, on Crestone Needle, baby.

It was a glorious day, and, with no electrical storms in sight, Jim and I stayed behind on the peak for a good hour after everyone else descended, enjoying the view and whatever random snacks we had between us or could scam from fellow climbers.

My friend Dr. Dave (Hershey).  Dave is a studly man for any age, but he just happens to be in his early 60s.  At this age, he can outride just about anyone I know, and he's up climbing some of the toughest 14ers around.  I know him from Dallas.  He and his son ascended a different route, and we met up on the peak.

This is a view from the peak of Crestone Needle looking at the ridge that connects to Crestone Peak.  This traverse is surely not for the faint of heart.  As it was, none of us was feeling confident enough to attempt the rappel down this 100 foot drop-off (which is blind, thanks to a couple of shelves).  In my view, it would be preferable to go Peak to Needle, as this final obstacle is probably no worse to free climb than anything we came up to get to the Needle, whereas to downclimb it is an act of faith. 

Look for the blue spot in the middle of the picture.  This is Dan, coming down the couloir.  This is not fast down-climbing.  It's choosing and testing every foothold and handhold as you go down.

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