Started from Willow Creek TH at 4:40 am. Sunny day with a bit of wind. Summitted both Challenger and Kit Carson via Challenger's North Slopes and the Kit Carson Avenue. Elected to take the first gully to the summit of KC. Great solid rock. Overall, not as bad of a route as was cracked up to be. Clear day with far views. Back to TH by 2:10 pm.
The trip was a fiasco. I had to work in the morning so didn't leave until later than I expected. I then got caught in construction near Gunnison and I was stopped for an hour and a half vs. the 8 minutes on Google maps. With a late start in the evening, I started up the trail only to find that I forgot the sleeping bag. I headed back down the trail. I considered going all the way to Alamosa to get a sleeping bag, but that would postpone me a day. In Crestone, the second hand store had just closed, but they opened it back up so I could buy a small blanket. I knew that this would make for a cold night, but I headed up the mountain anyway.
I headed up the trail and found a campsite at 11,260 feet just after the creek crossing. I set up camp there. I didn't get any sleep during the night because I was cold and because there was a bear snorting around camp.
Since I wasn't asleep anyway, I started at 3:30 AM. I got off route and ended up on the wrong side of Willow Lake, but pushed a route in the dark to above the waterfall. The route wasn't easy and I lost quite a bit of time.
I located the corrected trail and headed up Challenger Point. The first 1/3 or so of the route was a pleasant hike up, but the latter 2/3 of the slope consisting of scree wasn't a very fun climb, but I eventually reached the summit. My knees were hurting because of my spontaneous joint fusion which made me really slow. I then descended to the saddle and headed along the neat little ledge system to the final gully leading to Kit Carson Peak. It was also a scree slog.
After resting on the summit for a few minutes, I headed back down. My knees hurt so I had to go slow. It took me 12 hours round trip from camp to the summit of Kit Carson and back!
After reaching camp, I packed up and headed back down. I got some pizza in Crestone and drove all the way home that night. Long day!
Hiked with Kit Carson from Willow Lake trailhead in a day. The lower half of the ascent from Willow Lake to Challenger is now on a pretty good trail. The upper half still sucks!
Had to slog up old trail while the crew was building a nice new one
Boy did my boots hate me. Up Kit Carson, and down challenger. A painful 16 miles. With Adam
Started from the campsite at Willow Lake around 9:00 am. Made the mistake of misreading the trail rating from 14er.com. I only noticed the class 1 rating for the Willow Lake approach (rookie mistake), so I assumed it was a walk up and went without a helmet and spent hardly any time studying the route. Took me an additional 1.5 - 2 hours than expected for both Challenger Point (summited at noon), and Kit Carson topped at 1:00 pm. Made it back to camp around 3:45 pm. Fortunately, the skies were clear the whole way.
Went over it after the north ridge on Kit Carson. Was not a fun down climb on the standard route
Quick jaunt over from the top of the Prow ~ 20 min side trip on the way up Kit Carson.
Not enough time or energy to try for Kit Carson.
Climbed with a slick layer of snow on the way to Kit Carson
Amazing traverse from South Colony Lakes. This peak has one of the best views of the sand dunes and Crestones in one shot.
Kicked my butt
Standard route. Icy with snow on path up last 300 feet of the notch area. Bring snowspikes for September climbs. Strange day. Summit was clear skies, with very light cirrus-ish clouds. Within 30 minutes, not a patch of blue sky was visible. Dark clouds were everywhere and graupel was falling very heavily. We were just out of the rocky scramble part of the upper route (descending) when a huge bolt of lightning struck immediately above us. We ran the rest of the route to the lake. Fastest weather and temp drop I think I have ever seen.
With my daughter and companion from Willow Lake: we got off route at one point and wound up in the 600' snow gully that leads to the notch. There we climbed next to the strewn belongings of a climber who recently perished after tumbling into the gully on descent. Be careful on this route. It is steep and loose.
Great night camped out at Willow Lake with plans to climb Kit Carson and Challenger but KK had snow covering the entire ledges leaving for some serious exposure and I had no rope so I left after getting the Challenger summit. I will be back for KK!
Left Willow Creek TH at 1:00am. At Willow Lake at 4:30. Quick nap, started walking again by 5:00am. After the lake is where the vertical takes off. It took me a long, long time to get to the summit of Challenger. Stripes of snow filled the fairly steep gullies and I hopped between scrambling on the rocks and side-stepping up the snow. Summit at 9:15...Back down to TH around 4:30pm.. Long day for this 56 year old fighting a respiratory tract infection at the time.
#1 6-18-17 W/ Yadahzoe. Used the Pencil Couloir (thank goodness it was in) to avoid the awful "northwest ridges" portion of the approach. I don't think the snow in the couloirs will be much good if the high temps continue. Big horn sheep and mountain goats by the dozens in the Willow Lake area. My 36th 14er. #2 and #3 08-13-2020 as we climbed Kit Carson for the 1st time. Rocky Mountain Forest Initiative is doing trail work between upper Willow Lake and the notch en route to Challenger. Still, between about 12,400' and the notch the scree is barely tolerable. With my climbing partner, Yadahzoemtn. Kit Carson became 14er #56.
Hiked Columbia Point, Kit Carson, and Challenger from South Colony Lakes.