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Challenger Point Climber's Log

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The Lower MarmotRoute Climbed: Willow Lake Date Climbed: August 8, 2003

The Lower Marmot

Wonderful lesson in the unpredictable weather of the Sangres. On the hike in to the lake, we heard the flyover for Kat Carson/Columbia Peak. We spent the rest of the day acclimatizing and exploring in the area of the lake, and the next day we walked to the base of Challenger to get a feel for the terrain and the route, before returning to the camp for lunch. That afternoon we were buried in 3 inches of pea to dime sized hail that flooded our poor Eureka tent, as well as sending a brand new waterfall that was at least as tall as the Willow Lake waterfall down the west face of Challenger. Soaking wet, we let the mountain win round one. Expect a summit next summer...
Posted Oct 9, 2003 6:17 pm

GrantRoute Climbed: Willow Lake Date Climbed: Sept. 1, 2003  Sucess!


Excellent backpack trip, although I felt sluggish on the second day, to the most spectacular lake that I've been to this date. Colonelpyat(Jim) is an excellent hiker/climber and anyone who hike's with him will soon come to realize the many years of experience behind him.

The only downer on the weekend was that I dropped my camera and it tumbled down the mountain for about two-hundred feet. It came to rest in what looked like an old melted out crevasse (inside joke). Needless to say the camera is finished, it was a very somber moment, but like my wife says at least it wasn't me tumbling down the mountain.

A little TIP for those who attempt this mountain in the future, screw the guidebook, and head for the prominent notch just to the right of Challenger Point's summit (class 2+, loose scree). you will be able to see it from the back side of the lake and holds snow throughout the year. By doing this you will dodge the extreme exposure from the standard route. I will add an image to this page and call out this notch.

Posted Sep 24, 2003 8:17 pm

defurrRoute Climbed: West Ridge Date Climbed: August 31, 2003  Sucess!


Crowded, Labor Day weekend. We left from the lake about 6:30 a.m. and encountered at least three parties en route on the ridge who were turning back, due to the fog. Our native Alamosan had no particular concerns about this turning electrical, though, so we pressed onward. Challenger took about five hours; the ridge is indeed an intense ascent, but there are small steps seemingly dug into the side of the tundra. If you can find these, which requires occasionally traversing small boulder fields, the ascent is much more tolerable.

KC Ave entails one route of ascent, turning sharp left and descending two times. At the bottom of the second descent, we spotted the two gullies mentioned in the EXCELLENT trip report by Aaron Johnson posted herein. (Certainly richer in detail than Roach's.) We made a slight shortcut, however, instead of ascending directly from the avenue. This proved helpful on the way up, but impossible to retrace on the way down, causing 3 out of the 4 members of our party to mistakenly descend below the Avenue on the way down.

At the very bottom, we were facing Crestone. One of our party traversed tons of class 4/5 to get back to the avenue; we other two found a class 3 route. Where we came up was the second leg of the Ave, rather than the final 3rd from whence we had begun our ascent. Bottom line: pick a route that you KNOW you can retrace without any difficulty, even if it's longer.

Coming back, we heard there was a class 2 couloir that offered a faster descent than the far ridge back down to the lake. Being too exhausted to ascend back to Challenger's ridge, however, we contented ourselves with traversing diagonally down the east face, which is slow class 3 requiring much focus. Also, you don't want to descend too quickly, because there is a roughly 200 ft cliff at the base of Challenger's southern face.

I will post a full-blown photo essay/trip report at my own site soon:


Posted Sep 7, 2003 3:40 pm

ColonelpyatRoute Climbed: Willow Lake/Challenger Pt. Date Climbed: September 1, 2003  Sucess!


Ouch! My legs still hurt from a "this-is-where-we-had-to-walk-from-in-the-middle-of-a-desert" route via the San Luis Valley. Many miles and lots of elevation gain. Did it as an overnight trip under the expert guidance of jgsman who kept the physical abuse to a relative bare minimum with his route finding skills. A great trip through some spectacular country! Didn't see a single crevasse or a hang glider the entire time. :)
Posted Sep 3, 2003 1:41 am

big_gRoute Climbed: East Ridge and traverse to Challenger  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Aug 6, 2003


Kit is an impressive mountain. Got to love that rock! Made that surprising traverse over from Columbia. Looks like suicide but stays at class 3 somehow. Enjoyed myself immensely and did not get rained on until down by Willow Lake. Whoo hoo!
Posted Aug 8, 2003 1:46 am

rmjwintersRoute Climbed: Colony Lakes via Bear's Playground Date Climbed: July 7 1999  Sucess!


Visibility zero for the entire traverse. Returned back and over to Humboldt
Posted Oct 5, 2002 9:11 pm

jratkRoute Climbed: from upper south colony lake Date Climbed: july 26, 2002  Sucess!


Started at 2:50 in the morning, climbed Humbolt, traversed the ridge to Bear's playground, climbed the centennial 13er and then Kit Carson. Long day but excellent climb. One day will add the Crestones and do 5 peaks in one day.
Posted Aug 15, 2002 8:59 pm

Kit CarsonRoute Climbed: Outward Bound Coulier (Willow Lake) Date Climbed: April 2002  Sucess!
The Outward Bound Coulier is located just south of the main Kit Carson summit on the east side of the mountain. This wide coulier ascends between Kit & Kat Carson and when in good condition is a great climb, and probably one of the best snow climbs on Kit Carson Peak. We summited Kat Carson then went on to summit Kit Carson and finally concluded on Challenger Point. Then an icy but nice 2000 foot glaciade was in order off of the north slopes of Challenger Point. This was my second summit on both Kit Carson and Challenger Point.
Posted Jun 15, 2002 11:28 am

Matt MahoneyRoute Climbed: Willow Creek - Challenger Date Climbed: Aug. 11 2001  Sucess!

Matt Mahoney

Beautiful weather. Stayed on the summit a couple of hours just enjoying it. Met some other climbers and we took a wrong turn into the Spanish Creek basin on the descent and had to climb back up, but it was fun.
Posted May 17, 2002 4:22 pm

lavakaRoute Climbed: via Challenger Point Date Climbed: July 2001  Sucess!


Nice climb. Final ridge to Challenger Point exposed but fun. Not too bad from Challenger over to summit of Kit thanks to the convenient ledge on the South of Kit Carson. Camped previous night at one of the lakes to the west.
Posted Apr 30, 2002 5:05 pm

climbcoloradoRoute Climbed: South Colony Lakes  Sucess!


I climbed Kit Carson and Challanger Point from the upper Colony Lake. It was a long but nice hike with a exciting down climb from Kat Carson!
Posted Oct 8, 2001 3:35 pm

ClydeLovettRoute Climbed: Spanish Basin (south) Date Climbed: 8/23/01  Sucess!


The route I took to the summit is rather exoitic, but quite beautiful. It begins in private land and crosses a ridge of Challenger to the Spanish basin, beneath the Prow of Kit Carson and up from the South.

From the Kit Carson Summit my friend Paul and I went to the Challenger Summit and downclimbed the face of Challenger (5.4) and rejoined our ascent route.

A long day of 15+ miles and 2 summits.
Posted Oct 6, 2001 11:16 pm

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