Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crestone Needle

THE MOUNTAIN
Looking up into the heights, the sky blue,
I begin my ascent of the mountain.
With my first step, steady, honest and true,

My heart's filled with the goal I shall attain.
Though as I reach the higher paths I find

Determination begins to waver.
The rocks and icy winds are so unkind
And erode the courage I did savor.

T'would be easy to give up and go back,
Return to my safe and comforting home.
Then my inner voice cries, "Attack, attack!"

So I grit my teeth and push myself on.
When I reach the summit, see all I've gained,
Well worth all the trials, well worth all the
pain.

8/7/11
What:
Crestone Needle
Who: Matt Fisher and me
TH start: 6:15 a.m.
Elevation start: 11,685 ft
Summit: 9:25 a.m.
Back to TH: 12:00 p.m.
Distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
Total elevation gain +/-: 5024 ft

Matt and I woke up early this morning to start on the Needle. Both Sean and Bryan were staying behind on this day...they figured they had enough of 14,000 ft and the Crestone group in general. They were content with 11,000 ft and fishing the lakes. After breakfast, Matt and I were approached by this big guy you see above. He was friendly...
We got back on the same trail to Broken Hand Pass (BHP). Obviously this time around was easier. We were on this rocky trail the day before, and were hiking in sunlight from the get go. Our goal was to go back up BHP and and ge to the Needle via the standard route...which puts you on the West side of the mountain. 
This is me pointing towards our goal for the day. This is a view from below the needle...
We continued to make our way to BHP. Here is Matt approaching the base of BHP. This picture is misleading though...BHP is the lowest part of the conecting saddle...and this is still .25 miles from where Matt is standing.
This is the base of BHP. This requires some class 3 scrambling on loose rock...
Once you get over the top of BHP, you take a quick right and start hiking along the trail on the West side of the mountain. So take the picture of the Needle from previous pictures and now picture us on the other side of it...parallel with the connecting saddle.
There were beautiful views along this trail. We rested at some really cool places...
As you make your way to the base of the Needle...you start to get into some class 3 scrambling...I am down climbing this pitch...
As you get to the base of the Needle...you start to see the route ahead. It's 1000' up from here...and the majority of it is class 3 scrambling (picture above demonstrates class 3). This rock is a conglomerate rock...and it's also super solid. I felt secure on it the whole time. It is nothing like Crestone Peak.
When you get to the crux of the route, you will see the class 4 gully which is a dihedral that goes straight up. We chose to take the class 3 route which is technically easier, but still a decent challenge.
This is Matt manuevering his way through the crux...it really was not that difficult, but it did involve a technical climbing move and some confidence.
The standard route is hidden from the climb below...you have to scramble up and over a rib, once you do, you are on the standard route and in the the right gully. From here, you can see the route ahead. This is Matt on the standard route/class 3 gully.
Near the Summit, from the Crestone traverse route, there is this sign...which is hilarious!
On the summit of the Needle...you can see the Summit of Crestone Peak to the Northwest. It is about 1/2 a mile bird's eye view from here. We summited this peak yesterday...(the actual summit is the peak on the left)
To the South, you see more of the Sangre de Cristos and The Great Sand Dunes National Park!
We hung out at the summit for about 30 minutes...ate a snack and enjoyed the views. This climb is awesome. The solid rock makes this climb so much fun...We were back down by noon with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and contemplate another climb that evening...

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