Thursday night's camp was at the White Eagle Village in Crestone. $55 bucks, 65 degrees and wi-fi. Made it easier to get going in the morning.
The Sangres on Friday morning.
Crisp, cool morning in the valley.
Starting the hike up the very short bit of road before heading up the Cottonwood Creek trail
Only one small storm had hit the area since Cynthia had been up here two weeks ago with Kurt. They broke a great trail up to about 10,400' which helped our effort greatly
Nature's snow depth measuring device
Booty! Apparently Kurt had dropped this bag of tasty snacks two weeks ago. I found it in the trail and enjoyed the extra calories. Not only do I thank Kurt for the nice, broken trail, I have to thank him for the bonus snacks too!
The waterfall on the trail at about 10,700'
At this point we're breaking trail on our own. This section is an easy scramble with rock steps in summer. With three feet of unconsolidated snow on it, it's a wallow
Entering the notorious boilerplate slabs around 10,900'
More slabs. The snow was remarkably punchy on to of the slabs making them go relatively easy
A look back into the San Luis Valley as the storm approaches
Almost at our camp around 11,300. The trail breaking was pretty arduous. We ascended 2,800' vertical in 5.5 hours.
The obvious landmark boulder at the turn before heading up the short, steep headwall into the Cottonwood Lake basin. We camped here.
Part one of camp creation
A cool cave right near camp would make for a great emergency bivy
And we lucked out to have running water near camp saving loads of time and fuel not spent melting snow
Brewing up some tea at camp
After setting up camp by 3pm, we headed up the headwall and into the basin to pre-break the trail for the next day's summit attempt. Unfortunately, four new inches of snow and loads of heavy wind on Friday night filled in our hard-earned tracks
Steep climbing up the headwall section
Close to our high point on Friday. We hiked into the basin up to about 11,900'
Back at camp snug as a bug in a rug and getting ready to bed down for the cold night
It snowed and blew heavy wind until around midnight and then cleared out. Saturday dawned calm and beautiful. We finally coaxed ourselves out of our sleeping bags at 6:45am
-5. Glad I had my -10 sleeping bag.
Leaving camp at 8:35am
Our first view of Crestone Needle
Great view down into the valley
A bit windy up there but calm down here
Crestone Peak on the left of the gully
Broken Hand Peak with a snow-covered Cottonwood Lake in the foreground
The snow was very difficult to break trail given the new heavily wind-packed snow
Picking our way up to the ridge above where the Broken Hand Pass trail hits it
Looking up Crestone Needle from near Broken Hand Pass
14er Humboldt Peak from the ridge
Looking down our ascent route to the ridge
Yet another view of Humboldt. Cynthia was having a tough go of it and wasn't feeling it today so this was our high point at around 13,100. Thus, lots of photos taken here.
Cynthia making her way up to our high point
“Crestolita” Peak across the Cottonwood Lake Basin
Really windy up there. Maybe it was OK we didn't go to the summit? I wasn't bummed since I've climbed Crestone Needle (and the traverse to Crestone Peak) in winter before
On the descent, looking back at our tracks. Our highpoint for the day was the rock buttress in the upper left corner of the photo
Camp packed up and ready for the hike out Saturday afternoon
For ants, this is a killer ice pillar climb
Descending the boilerplate slabs was more taxing than ascending them the previous day
Snow covered slabs, ugh
Back at our ascent trail
Successfully negotiated the short crux near the waterfall
For the most part were on the summer trail route but sometimes there was some bushwacking
The sun is setting but with a broken trail and a full moon coming, we weren't worried
Back at the trailhead (with the moon rising) at 6:20pm.