Dave and Dave returned to the mountains with CBMG guide John MacKinnon to tackle several more technical fourteeners. This time they headed southeast to the Sangre de Cristo Range for some superb scrambling on the Sangre’s famed conglomerate rock. The three hiked into South Colony Lakes to set up basecamp and had a little competition with the locals for campsites!
Day two brought an early morning alpine start and a summit bid for Crestone Peak. The three left camp at 3:00 am and made the trek up to 12,900 ft to the top of Broken Hands Pass and then descended back down 12,300 ft to Cottonwood Lake. John, Dave and Dave then began the long climb up the Red Couloir to the summit of Crestone Peak at 14,294 ft.
The three carefully descended the mixed snow and rock gully and made an attempt on the infamous Crestone Traverse. Although they didn’t complete the traverse, they saw some remote and rugged terrain and decided to make a rare ascent of the jagged Black Gendarme.
The trio returned to camp tired and hungry but ready for another day of recreating in the majestic Sangres. Day three arrived bright and early with a 4 am departure for Crestone Needle, 14,197 ft. They headed back up Broken Hands Pass to climb the Needle via the Standard Route or South Couloir. Lou Dawson describes the route as “of all the fourteener trade routes, this one has the longest section of real hand and feet climbing.”
The three moved quickly and efficiently through the 4th class terrain and reached the summit in the early morning sun.
At the summit, perhaps it was due to the lack of oxygen, the Daves decided they wanted to bag Humbolt later that day. The three headed back down the South Couloir and made their way back to Broken Hand Pass. The three days climbing in Aspen and the two days scrambling in the Sangres really showed as Dave and Dave skillfully downclimbed and made quick work of their descent. Their footwork, balance and confidence improved greatly during their stint on technical fourteeners and hopefully they will continue to hone their technical mountaineering skills. At basecamp everyone refueled and geared up for the hike up Humbolt Peak, 14,064 ft.
Although not technical, Humbolt provided a challenge for tired legs. The three made the summit by climbing over 2,000 vertical feet in just about two hours. The hike was an excellent capstone experience as it provided amazing views of the previous climbs, the basecamp, the surrounding mountains and even Dave’s white truck. The three returned back to camp for a celebratory feast and a long night’s rest. They hiked out the next morning and Dave and Dave headed back to Kansas.
Congratulations gentlemen on your 35th and 37th fourteeners. It was my pleasure running around the Sangres with you all. All of us at CBMG look forward to seeing you again.
Your Guide John MacKinnon