Trip Reports: Crestone Needle & Humboldt, Sangre De Cristos, Colorado - September 2017

In late August/early September, we spent five days camped at South Colony Lakes in the Sangre de Cristo range in Colorado. Surrounded by three 14ers, including the rugged Crestone Needle towering directly overhead, this basin is supremely awesome -- one of the classic gems of Colorado. During our stay here we summited Crestone Needle and Humboldt Peak, along with lots of chilling out around the lake in between.

Broken Hand Peak, Colorado, Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Dawn light illuminates the east face of Crestone Needle (14197 ft / 4327 m).

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Broken Hand Peak, Colorado, Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, sunrise, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Sunrise light on the east face of Crestone Needle (14197 ft / 4327 m).

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Colorado, Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, hiking, climbing, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Scrambling up the spicy South Couloir of Crestone Needle. This is the standard route up the Needle, one of Colorado's most challenging fourteeners to climb. Although it looks like the couloir is full of loose rock, it's actually all solid conglomerate rock -- like ancient river rocks all stuck together in cement. The climbing is exposed but at least there are bomber handholds everywhere!

Broken Hand Peak, Colorado, Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, hiking, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Almost to the 14,197 ft. summit of Crestone Needle.

Colorado, Humboldt Peak, Sangre de Cristos, South Colony Lake, 14er, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Humboldt Peak, 14,064 ft., above lower South Colony Lake. In contrast to its rugged neighboring Crestone peaks, Humboldt is one of the easiest fourteeners in Colorado to hike up!

Colorado, Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristos, waterfall, 14er, sunrise, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Sunrise light on Crestone Needle, from a waterfall below South Colony Lake.

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Colorado, Humboldt Peak, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, sunrise, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Dawn skyline behind the silhouette of the 14,064 ft. summit of Humboldt Peak.

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Colorado, Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Humboldt Peak, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, sunrise, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Sunrise light on Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak, as seen from near the summit of Humboldt Peak.

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Colorado, Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Humboldt Peak, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, hiking, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Hiking down Humboldt Peak with the rugged Crestone 14ers towering behind.

Colorado, Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Humboldt Peak, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, hiking, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

Hiking down Humboldt Peak with the rugged Crestone 14ers towering behind.

Colorado, Sangre de Cristos, bighorn sheep, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, photo

A bighorn sheep ewe in the Sangre de Cristos.

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As a side note, our last night at South Colony Lakes was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and although I knew it would busy at this popular spot, I was still shocked to see how crowded it was. I'd estimate there were at least 60 tents in the vicinity of lower South Colony Lake, possibly more. Unfortunately we also witnessed some wilderness douchebaggery including someone blasting tunes on their portable speaker and another group building a new fire pit out in an open tundra area. Do you really need a fire that badly? We even saw a squirrel running around with toilet paper in its mouth... not a good sign.

I think it's a good thing when people are out enjoying the mountains, but please, try to respect wilderness ethics when you're out there!