Mt. Humboldt

A couple weeks after Mt. Harvard, we were getting that “14er itch” again.  However, there was no way we were venturing into that much snow again…and after Colorado’s epic, record setting winter, pretty much every mountain looked like Harvard.

After a bit of research though, we discovered that the southern portions of the state, especially the eastern mountains were almost completely dry.  Problem with that is that most of the Sangre de Cristo range is Class 3 and above (Class 3 = climbing, but not so much that you need a rope essentially), except for Humble Humboldt.  Nestled next to some of the most imposing mountains I have ever seen in the Crestones, was Mt. Humboldt at 14,064 feet.

Humble Humboldt

Humboldt's Neighbor, Crestone Needle

While not a long hike, we wanted to spend a night away from the city and had heard that there was good camping up in the S. Colony Lakes area, so we backpacked in a few miles.  Not much to note of the walk in as it followed the emergency 4WD road, so I will just post a few pictures from it.

The trail double as a creek bed for a good ways

Can't remember what I had to get from my pack, but I was told I was a "high maintenance backpacker" multiple times on this trip.

One of a couple of creek crossings. I always one of these being the end of my camera.

Crestone Needle through the shadows of sunset.


We arrived at our campsite around 6:30 PM, plenty of daylight left for a relaxing evening.  We had planned to hike all the way up to the lakes, but the camp sites at the end of the 4WD road were too good to pass up.

We were quite surprised to find such a well established campsite 3 miles in from the TH

We set to work setting up camp and creating a beer cooler for our Dale’s Pale Ales.

Ice cold beer? Yes please.

My wonderful girlfriend cooks a delicious dinner to enjoy while...

...sunset over Crestone Needle (don't know why it loaded sideways...can't make it turn.)

To whomever built the "log couch", thank you. We enjoyed it.

Our night went by without major incident, with the exception of a fellow hiker who decided to set up his camp in the site next to us around 4 am.  We were definitely a bit perturbed by this until I went over to talk to him just to see what was up.  We actually ended up sleeping in quite late the next morning.  Night time temps were in the 40s…perfect for a couple trying to escape the Denver heat.  Once we woke up, we cooked breakfast and enjoyed the slow dissipation of the alpenglow before setting off on our summit bid.

We backtracked a bit to reach the Humboldt “shortcut” and started heading up towards the lakes.  After a short trek through the trees, we emerged at the bottom of the lower lakes with a stunning view of the valley.  We continued to climb and worked our way up to the willows…everyone’s hiking nemesis.

The Willows...not so bad on this hike.

After stopping for a bit to hydrate and enjoy the view (more the view) we began our trek up to the summit ridge.  The trail was clear and easy to follow sans a few social trails that occasionally gave us pause.

The trail to the summit ridge...a good morning's work.

From the upper lake to the summit ridge, it was 700 feet of vertical in .6 miles.  Definitely steep, but with the good trail, we made solid time and were soon on the ridge.  Upon arriving on the ridge at 12,900, we were surprised to see how steep and jagged the backside of Humboldt was.  The route we had come up was gentle and sloping.  On the other side, it seemed like someone had ripped the whole back half of the mountain off into steep, jagged cliffs.

Humboldt: 2 Different Halves

Casey shows no fear peering over the cliffs

Approximately 1.5 hours later, we were on the summit.  The forecast had read 5-10 mph winds about 12,000 feet for the day.  Weatherman was wrong.  It was quite windy for most of the summit push, but not unbearable.  We did however hat up and glove up despite the warm temps.  The push to the summit was fairly rocky as can be seen in the pictures above, but it was nothing too strenuous.

Christine's usual face when Casey acts needy

Christine and I seek shelter from the wind.

Mt. Humboldt. 2nd summit together

Summit View

Summit View #2

After a bit of time on the summit we headed back down to our campsite.  While the wind remained, we thoroughly enjoyed our near constant view of the Crestones on our descent.

The descent back to Colony Lakes

On our ascent, we hadn’t noticed how tough the area right below the summit ridge was.  On our descent, we noticed as our pace slowed to a borderline crawl so we could hop from rock to rock and Case could find his way.

Summit Ridge Rocks...lots of hopping

We arrived back at our camp site in a reasonable amount of time and took our time breaking it down.  After that, we headed back down the 4WD road and arrived back to my car a little before 1:30…a little under 6 hours for the day.

Humboldt Peak Stats
Time: 7:25
Distance: 12.32
Elevation Gain: 4,564 ft.


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