Peak(s):  Crestone Peak  -  14,299 feet
Crestone Needle  -  14,196 feet
Mt. Lindsey  -  14,055 feet
"Northwest Lindsey"  -  14,020 feet
Iron Nipple  -  13,500 feet
"Huerfano Pk"  -  13,828 feet
Mt. Antero  -  14,271 feet
Date Posted:  01/02/2021
Date Climbed:   08/13/2020
Author:  hogantheepic
Additional Members:   gfwarlock, CaptCO
 The End of Traverse Month   

The End of Traverse Month

52/58 in 2020

4/4 traverses complete

Sawatch Range complete


All the trip reports I am writing for the summer is simply a byproduct of my thoughts, reactions, and experiences from my summer mountaineering project of climbing the 58 CO 14ers before I head back to CU in August. I hope that these trip reports help me to learn from mistakes, to document my experiences as beta for others, and to help me to think and become a better person and mountaineer. Thank you for reading and for your support!

Well, it is now nearly the end of my project. After a fun day doing the Sawtooth ridge with Alec (CaptCO), my dad and I headed out to do a little cleanup of some peaks that had gotten missed throughout the summer. We still needed to do Crestone Needle (plus the traverse), Mt Lindsey, and Mt Antero. If all went well, I would end up with the 4 traverses being completed, as well as the Sawatch range finally being finished. There are too many peaks in the Sawatch that all feel exactly the same, and I just wanted to be done with them. I had an attempt on Antero earlier this summer, but I had to turn back because I had a foot injury.

We borrowed the big red truck that is lifted, is manual, and is amazing for offroading here in Colorado again from our friend Freedom. My dad and I headed South to the Crestones, yet again. After 3 hours of driving, we were rumbling up the dirt road towards the upper trailhead of South Colony Lakes trailhead. The truck had no problems making it up this road. We got up to the trailhead just as the sun and its light totally plunged us into darkness. We rolled out our sleeping mats and sleeping bags near the truck, and fell asleep under the stars calmed by the peacefulness of the forest with the stars glistening through the rooftop canopy.

The peace would end shortly after, when we woke up at about 3 am that morning. Sun nowhere near rising, we began the approach up towards the Crestones. However, this was our second time doing this approach this summer, and we learned that it would maybe be a lot easier to do the approach on mountain bikes. Turns out, going up, its not. The dirt road was far too rocky for meak bikers like us to navigate up steadily, and we ended up walking with our bikes most of the way. The turnoff from the old upper trailhead signaled not too much later for us to find a place to stash the bikes for the day. We hid the 2 bikes behind a big log a small ways off the trail, and we continued on foot, feeling much lighter without having the weight of the bikes to push.

We began ascending up Broken Hand Pass (again!) right as the first glimpse of dawn appeared behind us to the east. It would prove to be a marvelous day, weather-wise. We worked our way up to the top of Broken Hand Pass, where the view of the San Luis Valley greeted us with open arms and a nearly-bluebird horizon. We continued back down the other side of Broken Hand Pass into the serene valley.

The Rise of Dawn
Her Magnificence
Fuzzy boi
Pristine? You bet!

Before long, we were once again ascending the Red Gully, and I was intently studying the terrain the whole way up, looking for the place where the traverse splits off from the gully.

We summited Crestone Peak, the 2nd time in about a month, and took a nice break at the summit. We had been moving pretty hard for hours now, and needed a small breakfast.

Beginning the gain.
Reaching the notch that signals the turn onto the traverse
What a pretty view.
Once again on the summit of Crestone Peak

We then set off back down the gully. I spotted the cairns and notch that signaled our way out of the gully. The cairns were decent for a while, but they just kept descending, and finally I had to look at the pictures again to ensure we were still correct in the route-finding. We were right, and after one last little roll-over of the rock, we stepped down onto the grassy-ledge thing that ran across the mountain.

We followed the feature and some accompanying cairns for a ways, all the while I was constantly monitoring our progress through the traverse by matching things up with the pictures from We ended up staying on track quite well for most of the way.

We came to the little class 5 move. It ended up being quite easy, and a little bit over exaggerated in terms of grading IMO (some sources call it a 5.2 move, but it felt easier than that to me). We moved past it quickly. The winds had been picking up since we reached the summit of Crestone Peak, and now they were a bit strong, though I still felt they weren't too strong for a climb of the final headwall.

While we moved up towards the small little knife-edge next to the Black Gendarme, the winds swooshed through the natural wind-tunnel we were climbing in. It howled loudly, and we couldn't hear each other speak very well. We just grinded through past the knife-edge and rounded the corner. Almost there!

On the Traverse
Looking back from near the beginning of the traverse
The terrain all looks semi-similar so it's difficult to describe exactly where to go
More traverse
rok again
another red gully
Getting closer!
The Black Gendarme, Feat the lone class 5 move on the right
The knife edge of the traverse
My dad on the knife edge

The section from this point to the summit is one of my favorite sections I climbed all summer. It has fun route-finding, awesome exposure, and neat scrambling up to the summit of one of the most famous 14ers. It is, simply, quite great.

We found ourselves standing at the base of the final wall, the last obstacle to the summit of Crestone Needle. I went first, and we agreed to take our time going up, having confidence in the rock and our skill, and to get up safely. I began on up the face when luckily the wind died down a little bit, and the climb up the wall went like a blur to me. All I remember is that I set off up the wall, found the rappel station that people had used, and looked down to see my dad not even half-way up the wall. I guess I rushed it a little too much. It's funny, though, that this happened, because I still was testing every singly hold before putting a bunch of weight on them, I used push-in technique rather than push-out technique to ensure the rock held together, and while I was climbing, I felt totally in control of every movement I was making and mentally stable in light of the challenge that I was pushing through.

We were standing on top of Crestone Needle! 50/58 for the summer for me, and 4/4 traverses are completed. This was an awesome moment, to finish the mini-list and to finally reach that magical number of 50.

Crestone Peak seen from the summit of Crestone Needle
Yay class 4!
Crestone Needle summit pic
The rappel horn
Climbing the crux wall

We continued down the route, which was not super simple. The route-finding here was confusing, as there were a bunch of different spines and gullies to climb down/avoid. Atleast there was some random flag-like clothes marking some cairns a couple times to help with the route finding. At long last, we began traversing back left rather than going straight down, and then we were free, walking along the trails through the grassy slopes down towards Broken Hand Pass.

We descended quite quickly, and made it back to the bikes. From here, it was a basic ride back down the road to the car. We got the bikes onto the trail, walked them to the dirt road, and mounted up. The ride turned out to be worse than we would've thought. I was hoping that it would be a smooth ride on the dirt back down, but the road had too many rocks the entire way for it to be an enjoyable dirt ride, so we ended up having to stand up the whole time and avoid the aggressive bumping with our hands and legs all 3 miles of the descent. It was quite difficult, since I kept getting pins and needles in my hands from the vibrations. I luckily didn't crash the entire time, though I came close 2 or 3 times. It had been a few years since I went mountain biking, and this was a big wakeup call that I was rusty with this sport. Glad I didn't crash!

We got back to the car, drove down the road, and headed straight for the Mt Lindsey trailhead, where we were meeting Alec (CaptCO) for Lindsey.

So long, Crestones!

We drove for about an hour or so along 2 lane backroads, and rolled up to the trailhead. Alec and Phizz (his doggo) was already there and had claimed a campsite for us. Alec had already done Lindsey, but was here to get Huerfano and California checked off. We had dinner and went to bed early.

The next morning, we got up at the buttcrack of dawn and began hiking. We were delighted to be in such a pretty basin. Personally, I think this basin is one of the more underrated basins of all the 14ers. It has amazing views, rather pristine forests and tundra, and an abundance of good hiking to be had here. Gash Ridge (on the list for someday) spectacularly calls to us as we get ever closer to Blanca and Lindsey.

We crossed the river, and made our way up the basin. The 4 of us stop for a short food break a little while after treeline, and we take in the brilliance of the Sierra Blanca Massif that we are in the heart of.

The Illuminated Blanca Peak with blissful Phizz in the foreground
Looking back north
Following the little stream uphill
Just making sure that Blanca is still there-it is, btw
Finally seeing Lindsey, on the left
Looking out from the basin

We make it up to the Huerfano-Lindsey saddle, where my dad and I split off from Alec. He would've done Lindsey again with us, but he didn't want to take Phizz up the sketchy and loose sections of the peak, and thus heads off to tag the Nipple and Huerfano.

My dad and I ascend via the gully route, and steadily go up to the top of Northwest Lindsey. A short walk along the ridge, and we are on top of Mt Lindsey, 9/10 in the Sangres finished for me, and my last 14er of the Sierra Blanca massif.

Nearing the summit
Summit pic
Blanca looking like a snak
Looking at the short walk to Lindsey's true summit

We descend via the ridge route, which turns out to be super fun. After we made it back to the saddle, my dad and I split up, where he headed back to the car and I went to tag Huerfano and the Nipple.

Lindsey from near the saddle
A closer, more dramatic view

I was all alone while doing this, and it was super relaxing. I ended up moving pretty quick, and if I had not done the traverse the day before and had better running shoes, I probably would've run the rest of this hike.

I climbed to the summit of Iron Nipple, which I was not expecting to have the tiny knife edge section on it. I continued on to get Huerfano, where I signed the register just after Alec.

An extremely R-rated view of the very tip of the Iron Nipple, mere foreplay to the walk of Huerfano
omw to see a nipple
Summit of Huerfano
A dramatic face
2 idiots follow a dirt line through a field of grass

I hitched back down the mountain quickly, and made it back to the saddle. I then proceeded to fly down the mountain, just about running, and stopped only to take a few pictures and have some water. I got some awesome pictures, and stumbled into camp, where Alec and my dad were relaxing and talking. I ate some food, we packed up camp, and then both took off. Alec was hoping to go get California done later that afternoon, but was too tired and didn't really have enough food with him to stay another day, so he left. My dad and I drove to the next trailhead: Mt Antero.

In all reality, we could've made it up to the top of the road at 13,800 with the truck that we were driving. However, we parked just after the huge river crossing and camped for the night, prepared to get after Antero the next day.

We awoke at 5:30, a chilly wind blowing off the creek over us as we were sleeping under the stars next to the road. We ate breakfast and set off. My dad decided to bring his bike with him, but I chose not to, not really wanting to lug a bike up 3000 ft of road just to have a miserable descent which was rather likely to involve a bad crash. We made excellent time, though it was pretty windy and chilly for the first part of the ascent. Once we made it up to the mines, my dad ditched his bike, and we completed the last 400 or so feet of climbing.

I was finished with the Sawatch range! This actually turned out to be a rather fun 14er, surprisingly, despite the majority of it being a road hike.

Grinding out the road
More road
End of the Road
Summit of Mt Antero

My dad and I left the summit at the same time, but I was going to leave him behind, with the idea that since he had the bike, he would end up passing me on the way down, and we would reach the car near the same time.

Once I started moving, I didn't stop. The route was super simple, the descent off the summit to the end of the road wasn't that tricky and I scrambled down it quickly.

I looked back, and my dad was still quite a ways up the ridge. I began walking down the road, and dissatisfied with my speed, I started running.

Most of the road was a comfortable incline to run down, not too steep, just steep enough to aid me in my running, and I found myself moving extremely fast. After this trip, I have come to the conclusion that I need to invest in trail-running equipment because I can see it in my future. I thoroughly enjoy trail running, and it feels great to move fast in the alpine environment, like a mountain goat.

I was moving so fast, in fact, that I found myself at the car before my dad. He had the keys with him, so I had to just wait for him to catch back up with me.

I chilled on a log in the shade for about 10 minutes, and he finally came riding up on the bike. We couldn't believe that I had actually beat him down on foot.

We packed up the bike, changed into our fresh clothes, and headed home. It had been a wildly successful trip, and I was now sitting at 52/58 14ers completed, the Sawatch Range completed, 4/4 traverses completed, but I was also ready to be finished with my project. I had a deep, underlying exhaustion sitting in me, and it was beginning to wear me down. The lowest I had weighed in at this summer was 138 lbs, whereas my normal weight usually hovers around 150. I needed the project to be over, or atleast I needed a short break from the constant hard work of multi-day trips out in the wilderness in a harsh environment.

That said, I was still having the best summer of my life, and enjoying every second of it!

As always,

Risk is for managing, not for chance.

~Hogan Warlock~

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
01/03/2021 10:10
That's quite the tour! Liked it

01/04/2021 12:42
Trips like this are great, nice bouncing around different parts of the state. Great pictures!

Haha thank you!
01/04/2021 23:54
This was one of my favorite trips of the summer! @coopereitel @Will_E

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