Crestone Needle Ski Descent – Carl’s Finisher

Carl put together an outstanding video from the day, and it’s highly recommended viewing: Carl’s Crestone Needle video
He also posted a trip report over on Carl’s TR

A few weeks later, more snow, and a fair amount of melting later and we were back, slogging up the snow-covered road to South Colony Lake at four in the morning. We came armed with ropes, slings, and plenty of gear this time, doing everything we could to ensure success.

IMG_0001At about six in the morning, we passed the old upper trailhead, and ran in to Austin, who was there to ski the Peak that day. He hussled out of his tent, and joined us in the climb towards Broken Hand Pass.


The view was much more enjoyable than last time, in large part due to gorgeous weather.




Eventually skins turned to booting, and we elected to take the narrower, steeper couloir climber’s right of Broken Hand Pass, partly for fun and partly for safety considerations.


The wet debris all across the gully was welcome, a sign that quite a few good melt/freeze cycles had taken place in the previous weeks.


We topped out above Broken Hand Pass at about 8:15.


The Needle came in to view, and looked better than last time.


All we had to do was head on up.


The scene of the previous attempt’s turn-around point was quite a bit different – instead of dejected conversation, a sling was quickly thrown around a boulder and a rap set up.


Mere minutes later and we were all on our way.



The traverse to the base of the couloir was uneventful. The thin strips of verglas were easily avoidable, but Eric and I chose the fun way up.



Photo courtesy of Eric Sangueza
Photo courtesy of Eric Sangueza

About 700′ from the summit, the air started to feel hot. I felt a sense of urgency, got to work putting in the bootpack, and ran off to the top.

Photo courtesy of Eric Sangueza
Photo courtesy of Eric Sangueza


I went left to the top, which resulted in a rocky ridge traverse to get to the summit. I shouted back down to the rest of the group to go right, which most did – Carl had a sketchy traverse over, but made it through fine.




The mood was jubilant, but we all knew we were only at the half-way point.



The ski descent was rather tight, at some points over a foot narrower than the length of my skis. Fortunately, the snow was in pretty good shape and the weather perfect. I didn’t take any photos during the descent, but Carl’s video shows it pretty well. The rap sped things up quite a bit, and added a good dose of “mountaineering” in to this ski mountaineering trip.


Once off the main line, Carl could barely contain his enthusiasm – but we weren’t out yet a short traverse and a quick ski out was still in front of us.



Crestone Needle, the line that kept Carl waiting to finish his project for three years.



We skied one at a time through the couloir, then ripped down to the lake.


And then it was really done – aside from the trivial road descent. Congratulations, Carl, on finishing your project to ski all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers!


2 thoughts on “Crestone Needle Ski Descent – Carl’s Finisher

  1. Sweet recap. Glad we were able to get this and Capitol together. Looking forward to hitting some of the 14ers on your list.

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