“The final approach to the Crestones from South Colony Lake.”
— Tyler Prince
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
If you bring a dog on this you should probably be reported to the ASPCA!
Shortly after leaving the South Colony Lake Approach
, the grade kicks up and the trail becomes extremely rocky. The upper portion of Broken Hand Pass requires some scrambling and is not conducive to running.
From South Colony Lake Approach
turn left at the sign marked "Crestone Needle: Standard Route" to continue up Broken Hand Pass. Head south on a well defined but steep trail, composed primarily of talus. The trail angles to the left once above the upper lakes.
Stop and put on a helmet, as the terrain above this point is steep, scrambly, and loose. At 12,700 ft there will be one class 3 move to the left of the trail. This is easily managed in dry conditions, but can be tricky with snow. While you can avoid it by staying to the right, this will put you in an incredibly loose and steep talus field, with high danger of rock fall - commit to the move. Due to the pass's shade from surrounding mountains, it remains snowed in for much of July, so bring an ice axe. After clearing this class 3 move (see photo) it's just a short class 2+ scramble to the top of Broken Hand Pass at 12,900 ft.
From here, drop down to Cottonwood Lake to climb Crestone Peak or head right to climb Crestone Needle.
Flora & Fauna
Once on the rocks, you may see some marmots and pika, but not much else. There are some wildflowers at the top of the pass, but this run is pretty rocky from this point on.