Crestone Needle

Elevation (feet): 14,197
Elevation (meters): 4,327
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Sangre de Cristo Range
State: Colorado
Latitude: 37.9647
Longitude: -105.576
Difficulty: Scramble
Best months for climbing: Jul, Aug, Sep
Year first climbed: 1916
First successful climber(s): Albert Ellingwood, Eleanor Davis
Nearest major airport: Alamosa
Convenient Center: Alamosa, Colorado

Thanks to Barry Wrenick for adding this peak.

Crestone Needle was the last of Colorado's fourteeners to be climbed. It is one of Colorado's most difficult climbs based on its easiest route (class 3), and has many technical climbs. One guidebook describes it as a "a classic Crestone knob climb"

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 36 trip reports for Crestone Needle.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #21364 - by Andrew Stabeno on Aug 04, 2008
    This was my first 14er to climb. It was one of the hardest physical experiences of my life, but it was an amazing time. I would climb this mountain again. There are many nerve racking moments on this...
  • Log #21278 - by Scott on May 14, 2008
    Went up on a weekend, end of June. Wasn't really prepared for how steep the climb wa the last 400'. Incomparable weather (until late afternoon) and a tolerable number of people (under 20 that...
  • Log #19866 - by Patrick L. Lilly on Sep 27, 2006
    Climbed from just below S. Colony Lakes with daughter Trish via Broken Hand Pass. Eastern couloir up, 5h25min. Western couloir down, 4h50min, with thrilling Class 4 downclimbing.
  • Log #19779 - by Matt Van Wieren on Sep 27, 2006
    Crestone Needle is one of the best high scrambles in Colorado. This route is fun with consistent class 3 the last 1000'. Great hand and foot-holds the entire way, with a little exposure. A classic...
  • Log #10260 - by Dean Carpenter on Sep 24, 2004
    A fierce class 3 it took 8 hours from south colony trailhead and back. Made a wrong move at the big crevice had to do some class 4 to get out. Hell of a view, I love the Sangre's. Their full of great...
  • Log #10261 - by leonard martinez on Aug 29, 2004
    It started out as a beautiful Saturday. Clear blue sky. At about 1115hrs my son, ragnar(my golden), and I decided to take an atv ride up the south colony trail and go for a little hike. To make a...
  • Log #10262 - by Dan Bowers & Peter C. Key on Aug 28, 2004
    Got hit by a rock. Helmets are key on Brokenhand pass.
  • Log #10263 - by Henderson on Sep 03, 2003
    I camped out by the lakes, and it took me about 7-1/2 hours. The clouds were low, I felt bad, and I got off route quite a bit. The rock was not as solid as I would of liked, I would recommend a...
  • Log #10264 - by Derrick on Sep 02, 2003
    Crestone knob climbing to me is the best fourteener experience. The Needle is one of the funnest climbs I've ever done. Broken Hand pass is a little frustrating, but it actually doesn't take that...
  • Log #10265 - by ROBERT HENSHAW on Aug 18, 2003
    Scree on Broken Hand Pass tends to make you concerned about the route up the Needle. Route up needle very solid but if surface becomes wet can be very slippery.
  • Log #10266 - by Charles W. Miller Ph.D. on Aug 04, 2003
    Went with professional guides and a group of 3 others. The guides wee too rambunctious and left the other hikers one by one; I was by far the oldest a age 54. I think we could have made it with more...
  • Log #10267 - by Mark Sokol on Aug 03, 2003
    My partner and I climbed the Ellingwood Arete using the direct start from North Colony lake (5.4). We started at 6am and summited at 11:15am. It was a very successfull and brilliant climb. We only...
  • Log #10268 - by Tom Crosman on July 13, 2003
    More fun in Feb. The basin by the lake is one big solar collector. Burn city. Snow cave about 12,500.
  • Log #10269 - by Jason Halladay on July 12, 2003
    Myself and two others climbed the needle via the traverse from Crestone Peak. With a high camp in Spanish Creek were we able to climb the North Buttrees of Crestone Peak, do the traverse to the...
  • Log #10270 - by Michael Jake on Aug 12, 2002
    Climbed Ellingwood Ledges (Arete) route with my friend Rob Shaw. We did the standard start up to the red tower, then scrambled up to the start of the 2 harder roped pitches. We used a topo from...
  • Log #10271 - by Jason Cleckler on July 26, 2002
    We summited via the Ellingwood Arete which was an amazing climb. Watch out for the weather and the marmots.
  • Log #10274 - by Jason Halladay on July 25, 2002
    On May 24th, 2002 we climbed the Ellingwood Arete route. Temperature never got above freezing and it snowed on us making the day a long, cold one. The major cracks and moves were filled with ice and...
  • Log #10275 - by Steve Gladbach on May 19, 2002
    John Hunyadi led all the pitches the Ellingwood Arete Direct for my 14th ascent of the Needle. I've climbed the 1st and second colouirs on the SW side, completed the traverse both to and from...
  • Log #10276 - by Chad on May 13, 2002
    Moonlight ascend of Ellingwood Arete... well, at least an attempt. Started climbing when the sun started going down. Hit the ledges just as the moon started sneaking behind some storm clouds.
  • Log #10277 - by Rick Hoffman on May 07, 2002
    I made this climb with my son, Mark. Just started the 14er's 2 years ago at age 50 and this was number 25 for me and 15 for him. It was a great trip on solid rock. Saw lightning by 10:30 on summit.
  • Log #10278 - by Dan Wiedrich on Apr 29, 2002
    This is an awesome peak! I made it to the top of the Needle from lower south colony lake twice in 3 days. The 1st day we started going toward broken hand pass under increasing cloud cover. After the...
  • Log #10279 - by Ryan Sayers on Aug 13, 2001
    Ellingwood Arete was super fun, but I think I got lost at the crux. Should I have taken the horrendous double-overhanging offwidth? Ooohhh, it was pumpy in the rain - thank God for expandable tube...
  • Log #10280 - by Alan on July 22, 2001
    Ellingwood Arete route: Man, this was fun. Lots of exposure. We did three roped at the bottom.
  • Log #10281 - by Tim Callaway on Jan 16, 2001
    Summited with scott Kelley. Cold, windy, sturdy rock, started snowing. special gear not needed if correct route is taken. I did it in baggy jeans with no knees, a shirt reading "pshyc...
  • Log #10282 - by Matt Kirk on Nov 03, 2000
    Greetings 14er climbers and enthusiasts. I just wanted to let everyone know that there should be a 14ers forum coming soon at If you have the time, please come by and...
  • Log #10283 - by Samuel Johnson on Oct 16, 2000
    Ellingwood Arete (5.7/5.8) is a very fun winter alpine climb, features can become very slippery and difficult to find purchase following snows and melts. A fun experience, punching ice out of cracks...
  • Log #10284 - by Scott Kelley on Oct 05, 2000
    Awesome climb,...but the winds were about 50 mph. Oh well, this has got to be one of the coolest peak I've climbed.
  • Log #10285 - by David Michael on Aug 22, 2000
    Mark Harko & I climbed the direct Ellingwood Arete. Everything was going great untill the 13 & 1/2 hour snow storm hit us at 13,000'. We climbed for about an hour in the storm, but got pinned...
  • Log #10286 - by Jay Jansen on Aug 14, 2000
    One of the Best. Came from the Peak via the traverse. Very exposed Class 3+ and VERY VERY exposed Class4+. One of the most difficult yet exciting climbs I have ever done.
  • Log #10287 - by Mickey Hines on Aug 12, 2000
    We had perfect conditions at the Summit on August 10, 2000 at 1:30 pm. There was no wind, and good visibility in all directions - an unforgettable moment. Bob Huitt led me from the South Colony Lakes...
  • Log #10288 - by Jarrett Luttrell on Aug 11, 2000
    Matt Halbakken and I followed Albert's Pitons to the Center of the Universe!
  • Log #10293 - by Josh VonLoh on Mar 05, 2000
    I breezed up it with some guys I met from St. Louis, while my 6'9" ogre friend toiled behind and never summited. I saw some marmots, and mountain goats too.
  • Log #10294 - by Robert Norris on Feb 09, 2000
    What a fantastic fourteener, the route is pure fun, the conglomerate scrambling is a joy, all 900 feet of it. We got a little off-route on the way down (make sure you pay attention to how you came up...
  • Log #10295 - by Rob Walters on Feb 08, 2000
    We did the Ellingwood Arete. Great Weather, except for falling climbers. There was someone soloing the route above us in hiking boots (route is 5.7)who fell at the crux (apx.
  • Log #10296 - by Kirk Mallory on July 13, 1999
    This was my 40th Colorado fourteener and one of my hardest yet. Lots of sustained scrambling and some exposure on good solid rock, but there is some loose rubble to watch out for. We approached the...
  • Log #10297 - by Ken Whittenburg on July 12, 1999
    Very difficult Colorado 14er climb. Getting off the right line is very easy to do and we did it a bunch- getting into class 4 and low class 5 situations. Go slow and study the route.