The east ridge of Kit Carson can be approached from either Spanish Creek or Colony Lakes. The east ridge is not the easiest route on Kit Carson and is usually approached from Colony Lakes. From upper Colony Lake the objective is to get to the broad connecting saddle between Crestone Peak and Kit Carson. This area is known as the Bear's Playground. Bear's Playground can be reached one of two ways. 1) From Lower South Colony Lake, hike northwest to Upper South Colony Lake and climb a south-facing scree gully to the long ridge connecting Humboldt Peak with Crestone Peak. Scramble a little west to reach the 13,140 ft Bear's Playground. 2) Follow the well-maintained trail to Humboldt Peak. Upon reaching the ridge on Humboldt's west side at 12,860 ft, scramble west along the ridge to reach Bear's Playground at 13,140 ft.
From South Colony Lakes this route is 5.8 miles roundtrip and 3400-3600 ft elevation gain. From 13,140 ft at the south end of Bear's Playground (Crestone Peak and Kit Carson saddle) angle northwest across the open area and climb to 13,500 ft. Roach's guidebook says the route contours from 13,500 ft below the summit of Point 13,799. This route is not marked and seems to be more difficult than just climbing to Point 13,799 (Obstruction Peak) and following the ridge. This is my opinion. You may either contour west below the summit of Point 13,799 and reach the saddle between Point 13,799 and Kit Carson's east peak or climb Point 13,799 and follow the ridge. Continue climbing west from this saddle and then steeply to Kit Carson's east peak. Continue slighly farther west to the highpoint known as "Kat Carson" at 13,980 ft.
Most of the climbing has been Class 2 to this point. However, the difficulty increases from here. Descend or downclimb west from the summit of Kat Carson on exposed Class 3 blocks to the 13,620 ft saddle between Kat Carson and Kit Carson's main summit. This downclimb has been rated Class 3, but careful climbing is required to keep this at Class 3. Some Class 4 climbing may be required at times. This is the route's most difficult and exposed section. Wet rock can make this treacherous. Care should be taken to assess conditions.
From the 13,620 ft saddle, continue climbing west on a large ledge and then scramble up an easy Class 3 to the summit.
Remember to reserve some energy for the return to South Colony Lakes. You will have to repeat the ascent and descent of the aproach.
Most of the route is Class 3. Although some Class 4 moves may be required. As always, wet conditions can exponentially increase the difficulty of the traverse from Kat Carson to Kit Carson.
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