Peak(s):  Crestone Needle  -  14,196 feet
Crestone Peak  -  14,299 feet
Date Posted:  09/10/2020
Modified:  09/11/2020
Date Climbed:   09/06/2020
Author:  zacgiammarrusco
 Crestone Traverse Labor Day Finisher   

We did it! What a great finisher combo on Labor Day weekend. The whole traverse and entire camping trip turned out to be incredibly humbling in so many ways. I never thought I would actually complete all the 14ers. It took me 11 years since I started hiking 14ers to honor my moms passing and her dedication to the mountains. Some advice I learned along the way... Just put your damn boots on, avoid the distractions, and get out there. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend with the best hiking partner out there. We completed the traverse from needle to peak and parked at south colony lakes upper trail head which was completely slammed as expected on Labor Day weekend. That road is getting super gnarly so be prepared for some serious offroad action if you plan on making it to the upper trailhead.

I'll start off with some quick reference times on how long each section took us to hike if your reading this trip for some fresh beta- (Note- We are average hikers that love tequila)

Part I- Starting at the upper trailhead of South Colony lakes to the turnoff point of Broken-hand pass ~1hr 45 with heavy camping gear, champagne, tequila, and 8 beers.

Part 2- 3:45am wake up and just go 5am Summit Broken-hand pass.

Part 3- Summit Crestone Peak 7:30am. Some difficulty finding the start of the trail in the dark at the bottom of broken hand near the lake. (Farther than we thought heading down)

Part 4- Traverse was slow steady and solid roughly 2 hours across

Part 5- Summit Crestone Needle 9:30am

Part 6- Back to camp at South Colony lakes near the broken-hand cutoff 11am and begin the party. Do yourself a favor and don't hike back until the next morning after some fresh coffee.

Top of Broken Hand pass at 5am with the sun just coming up. We knew on a busy weekend getting up broken-hand pass as the first party in the morning was ideal.


Great morning sunrise view of the Sand Dunes off in the center


Coming up the red gully was slow and steady. The rock is great and the rock color and formation is beautiful. Everything is super solid.


Top of Crestone Peak at 7:30am. We were not alone even with the 3:45am start on Labor Day. We enjoyed the company of Wizard beard Dave.

Heading back down the Red Gully looking for the very apparent cairns on the left which marks the start of the traverse.
Making our way up and over the first part of the traverse. Download the images on your phone from the traverse route.
I found each point was marked well with cairns. I was thinking later about getting a solar charger for the phone.

The next images are a sequence of my partner in crime Erkil getting up and over the 5.2 GNAR-DOME

Decent holds everywhere. There's a million way's to make this move a fall here would hurt but wouldn't be anything more than 10ft or so.
I 'd call this one a left center double hand push up.
Then a left foot push up.. setting up for the right foot
looking for a right foot move
Boom he made it
reference to the height of the Gnar Dome

Hiking a little further and approaching the knifes edge section

Solid rock all the way up this area of the traverse.

The next three photos are a sequence of the knifes edge section

Decent exposure
Dark area is where you don't want to look down into


Hang left here after safely crossing the knifes edge.


The famous white rock was a little more grey looking from afar but nevertheless, it can be seen in the center left of the frame here


Now making our way to the final pitch. The word on the street here is if you put a piece of coal in your butt it will most likely turn into a diamond.

This part of the hike was very real. Keep your focus and always double check your holds throughout this section.


Large holds and places to completely stand can be found throughout the last pitch.


This photo looks awesome and yes wear a helmet since some people will most likely be above you watching every move at this point from the top of the Peak.


Looking down the last pitch... Very long way down that right side to the lake with some extreme exposure.


This is when I'm saying "Are you kidding me! What did I sign up for" haha


We made it to the top of the needle and this marked my 14er finisher! Hell of a hike and one hell of a traverse.


Finally back down to camp and time to party! The bottle of champagne was still cold inside the tent and the tequila started flowing.


Looking back at our accomplishment that day and soaking in what had just happened.

Put your boots on, Avoid the distractions, and get out there!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Excellent report
09/10/2020 22:30
Congratulations on a great finishing climb and thanks for the wonderful photographs.

Uncle beanhead
Nice way to finish
09/11/2020 07:13
The Crestone€„¢s are awesome
I do believe you have your peaks backwards though
Red gully is on the peak and you finished on the needle. But anyway it€„¢s still awesome

Report Correction
09/11/2020 07:24
Thanks Beanhead I made the peak name switch up correction for others down the trail.

Uncle beanhead
Head wall thoughts
09/11/2020 07:42
No worries thought I would point it out. How was the last section on the traverse going up the head wall. I did the north ridge on kit Carson last week and I€„¢m thinking I should be fine on the traverse after doing that.

Uncle beanhead
Head wall thoughts
09/11/2020 07:48
No worries thought I would point it out. How was the last section on the traverse going up the head wall. I did the north ridge on kit Carson last week and I€„¢m thinking I should be fine on the traverse after doing that.

09/11/2020 11:01
Way to go man!! Enjoyed your report and congrats on a great finisher!!

09/11/2020 11:18
Headwall is solid all the way beanhead have fun!

James Scott
09/12/2020 12:58
I did this traverse probably ten years ago. Looking at your pictures, I can't believe what I actually did. Those are some pretty crazy pix, with the exposure so obvious. I really appreciate what you guys did and the trip report- that's not an easy day. Well done and congratulations!

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