Trip date: Sept 14, 2019
Caltopo map here: caltopo.com/m/PLL3
This trip was more "by the books" than normal. A friend wanted to do the South Face of the Crestone Needle (Class 4 variation) so I obliged.
Ultimately, this trip reminded me of why I avoid 14ers in the first place: they attract tons of inexperienced people who see mountains as something to conquer instead of something to love.
That said, the scenery is stunning and the rock quality is spectacular. It is very likely the best rock quality I've scrambled anywhere.
Near South Colony Lakes I was dismayed at the dozens of tents I saw. And the piles of human feces and toilet paper on the ground. I think the entirety of 14ers culture is fundamentally misguided. The adherents seem to view mountains as an athletic event to be conquered and this seems to attract bad behavior.
As we worked up the gully to Broken Hand Pass we were greeted by about 40-50 (seriously) Air Force Cadets from Colorado Springs coming down. Their bloviating "leader" talked about the importance of getting them out of their comfort zones. There is surely a time and place for that but is it really the best idea to put 50 inexperienced people in a gully full of loose debris? It would have been so easy for them to knock loose rocks down onto their friends...or us. I waited out of the way until the last of the group had passed.
Wildfire that started on Sept 08, 2019: https://www.outtherecolorado.com/wildfire-burns-with-0-containment-near-mountain-town-in-colorado/
As we were coming down we heard other hikers tell us about a small group of 2-3 that had reached the summit of the Crestone Needle but had made a wrong turn. They had called search and rescue and were apparently freaking out. They said they were all wearing shorts and muscle tank tops...why am I not surprised?