Challenger (7/8/'12): Solo (too little sleep for F). Left TH @ 4.26. When finally got to ridgeline, top of mountain enveloped in fog/cloud. As fog/cloud made me quite uneasy, wanted to summit & get out of there. Followed ridge until finally got to summit @ 8.30. Left @ 8.35. On way down saw guys above who tried to catch up/pass me, but couldn't (admitted it when caught up as I was resting @ waterfall). Guys from 14ers.com. Ha ha. Ran into Faith during the descent, as she wanted to see waterfall. Back to TH/car @ 12.37. Exhausting but great day!
Kit Carson, The Prow (.8, .6R) – 7.12.’12
With Faith. Hiked in & camped night before. Thunderstorm night before made me worry, as did the difficulty on the crux pitch. All worked out in the end, though. Skies started out bluebird, & building clouds definitely worried me as climb, & time, progressed.
After crux pitch snafu (F couldn’t pull crux w/ rope pulling her to the side (where the next piece of pro’ was), I couldn’t hear or understand anything that was going on over waterfall noise & past rock bulges, …), though, made good time. Actually passed the 2 guys that started ahead of us (& seemed to take off after crux pitch- didn’t see them again until pitch above Kit Carson Ave.) @ summit. At that point, hearing thunder around us.
On descent, noticed hikers we’d seen who’d seemed to be confused on the S gully halfway up the side of the wall forming the Prow!!! Obviously not in a comfortable place, guy (& girl) had to practice moves down to get to ramp leading to descent shelf multiple times before committing- if rain would have started, they would have been fucked. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see one (or both) fall off… They finally made it down, though- LUCKY.
Packed up camp @ base & took off. Back @ car shortly before 21.00. EPIC day!!!! Glad to do it with Faith.
One cool route
On the final day of my 13 day 2012 trip to Colorado I reached the summits of Challenger and Kit Carson all by myself from Willow Lake (I had hiked up to the lake the previous afternoon). These were peaks #15 and #16 on this trip. Had some breathtaking views all around this very special place.
For what it's worth, my GPS read 16.5 miles RT for this dayhike, a worthy outing considering the more than 6,000 feet vertical gain! Good and tired at the end of the day. I thought the upper Willow Lake Basin to be one of the most beautiful in all of Colorado. Loved it.
Great overnight trip. Willow lake was beautiful. The summit ridge of challenger was a bit more exposed than my previous summits but was a great experience.
Having never gone up the standard route before, we took the North Ridge up and wondered how the hell to get down. We wound up descending a 5th class face to reach challenger.
Took a newbie on this very long hike. We did Challenger and Kit Carson in one day from the Willow Lake trailhead. It took 14 hours round trip. The weather was perfect but we ended up finishing in the dark under head lamps. Loose talus and scree above the lake. Luckily we got below that before the sun set. Great epic.
Early start from above Willow Lake, beautiful weather and morning. Awesome day.
Approached from Upper South Colony Lake. Sick climb!
We set out early and were turned back by intense lightning and hail at 10 AM. The climb up to Willow Lake was magnificent and it was a great trip despite the storm.
The pair from Willow Crk. Harder day than I expected, but got it done. Chased off the mountain by bad weather after quickly getting KC.
Altitude sickness got the best of one in our party, so I turned around with her while the other two continued. Beautiful area, bummer that we didn't summit.
Challenger and Kit Carson
Backpacked into Willow Lake Friday night and climbed up the slopes to Challenger.
Big day hike for Challenger and Kit Carson.
The first day above Willow Lake I tried for one of the couloirs northeast of Carson's summit. A cornice near the terminal ridge halted me just dozens of feet from the top. I camped in the valley that night and was up a little after sunrise to do the standard Challenger-Kit route, and just in time to evade some storms.
ended in sun
Late June 2010 - Ascended the north ridge (unbelievably awesome route - much better than I expected), traversed to Challenger, then descended the Kirk Couloir.