The Crestone Needle is one of the most rugged Colorado 14ers. Its steep faces provide amazing opportunities for alpine technical climbing. The standard route for climbing Crestone Needle is a challenging Class 3 climb. The biggest challenge isn’t the distance, but the route-finding, as it’s easy to get off track and wander into much more difficult terrain. It’s important to carefully review a Crestone Needle Route Guide. Research this peak well and take your time before you go, as many have died after getting off route and missing a key gully crossing. Start preparing with my Crestone Needle Route Guide.
Climbing Crestone Needle: Fast Facts
CAUTION: This Route is Hazardous!
You are responsible for your personal safety in the backcountry.
These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear.
Climbing Crestone Needle - South Face Route
The best route description for the Crestone Needle was assembled by 14ers.com. It includes photos of the route and a detailed description. I recommend taking the time to research and review it before climbing Crestone Needle.
If you plan on climbing Crestone Needle, you will need a good topographical map. I recommend downloading this map on your phone or another electronic device. You should also print out a paper backup copy just if something happens to your phone along the way.
Checking the weather before climbing Crestone Needle will help you plan ahead and prepare for conditions. Here are some weather forecast sources to get started with for your research.
The right gear makes climbing Crestone Needle much easier, and will also help you stay safe. Here’s a rundown on what you should bring with you for this difficult route.
Start with a good pair of hiking boots (I recommend them over shoes due to their ankle support). Here are six of my favorite hiking boots for 14ers.
You should also have the ten essentials with you during your hike and climb. These are the key pieces of gear needed to stay safe and respond to emergencies in the mountains. As Crestone Needle is a difficult mountain, it is best to be prepared. Here is a refresher on the topic.
A backpack will help you store your ten essentials as you go on your hike. For day trips, aim for a bag between 15 and 30 liters in capacity. If you’re climbing Crestone Needle over several days, you will want a bag with 45-65 liters. Here are some of my favorite options.
Learn more about packing for a 14er here.
Camping near Crestone Needle:
There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along the road up to the upper trailhead ideal for those climbing Crestone Needle. Be sure you do not camp on private land between the two trailheads. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.
Lodging near Crestone Needle:
There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Westcliffe, perfect for those climbing Crestone Needle.
The area around Crestone Needle is still largely pristine, but more and more people are visiting it every year. Help us preserve this spectacular ecosystem by following these important Leave No Trace practices while climbing Crestone Needle.
- Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
- Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
- Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
- Urinate off trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
- Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
- Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.
Safe travels, and good luck climbing Crestone Needle!
Climbing Crestone Needle is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Climbing Crestone Needle is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.