The Crestones are two of the state’s most ruggest 14ers, nestled in the southern rockies. Crestone Needle is a shorter route, with a bit more difficult scramble. Climbing Crestone Peak involves a longer route, including the need to regain Broken Hand Pass on your way back to the trailhead. This isn’t a route for beginners: take your time and research the route to stay safe. Get started with your research with this Crestone Peak Route Guide.
Climbing Crestone Peak | 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 Peak | Route Guide
The best route description for those climbing Crestone Peak is found at 14ers.com. With photos, maps, and a detailed walk-through of the route, it is a great resources for preparing to climb this 14er.
If you’re climbing Crestone Peak, you’ll need a topographical map of the route like this one. I recommend downloading and printing out this map to bring a paper copy with you, in addition to a digital version on your phone or GPS. That way you still have a backup in case something goes wrong.
Climbing Crestone Peak requires a good weather window: clear skies, good temperatures, and calm winds. It’s important to check the weather forecast several times in the days leading up to your trip. Here are several dependable sources to use for your Crestone Peak weather research.
The right gear makes climbing Crestone Peak 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 Peak 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 Peak 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 Peak:
There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along the road up to the upper trailhead ideal for those climbing Crestone Peak. Be sure you do not camp on private land between the two trailheads. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.
Lodging near Crestone Peak:
There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Westcliffe, perfect for those climbing Crestone Peak.
The area around Crestone Peak 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 Peak.
- 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 Peak!
Climbing Crestone Peak along its standard route is a very difficult journey. In fact, its neighbor peak Crestone Needle was the last of the fourteeners to be climbed during the 1930’s. The name comes from the crested neck of a rooster, which resembles the mountain’s crags and pinnacles, along with its sharp, pointed shape. Most people climbing Crestone Peak choose to spend a night at South Colony Lakes before their summit day ascent.
Climbing Crestone Peak 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 Peak 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.