Strange. I was told by several 14er aficionados that this was a "dangerous" mountain. It was in response of me saying I was going to do the "walk up" route to bag these two 14ers. They told me it was not a walk up. The route I took is a walk up route. I never took my hands off of my poles. Zero 3rd class I could identify. This would barely be called a scramble in the Canadian Rockies. From the trailhead I covered the 30 miles and 6250' gain in 10 hrs rt with plenty of rests and foot soaks. 2 hrs to the camp sites. From there, I did get off trail just a little. I stayed too close to the lake on the north shore where the actual trail is quite a bit higher up the hill. Does not cost any time, just adds a slight bit of bush whack. Above the waterfall is the upper Willow Lake basin which is very scenic and would make for a much better camp site than the lower lake. The trail to Challenger Point is signed and well trodden as of 2023. you ascend more east facing slopes than northern as some beta suggests. When in the rocks, if it does not look like a trail anymore, stop and locate a cairn and you will be back on trail. The steep hike to the summit ridge of Challenger Point trends left the whole time to a notch. Follow a trail on the west side which soon gains the ridge proper and leads to Challenger Point. Descend to the col between Carson and Challenger and ascend the cool "avenue" ramp to the southwest side of Kit Carson. There are three rock gullies you come across on your left. The first is good for experienced parties, but the next two are much easier. The third being the most used. You have to descend the entire route. Those who do get in trouble on this trek, it is no doubt because they are lazy or tired and want to descend from the col between the two objectives. That also means they did not pay attention on the way up. Dying glaciers and cliffs guard that ground. Rather diagonally ascend back to Challenger's ridge line and return back the way you came.
Climbed Kit Carson via the North Ridge. Incredible sustained climbing. Then onto Challenger.
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!
Day hiking from the trailhead made for a pretty long day. The area is very scenic. I thought the best section of the hike was from Challenger to Kit Carson. We took the first class 3 chute off the avenue and the rock was pretty solid.
73/75 14'ers Liked the ramp and the scramble to the top. Would have loved to explore harder route to the top.
With Adam. It was a pretty rough outing for me. I puked several times in the first hour, and nearly called it quits. Once above the lake, and when the sun finally started warming me up, I was feeling ready. Went up the North Ridge, which was so much fun. From there we hiked over to challenger, and made our way back to camp. 13.5 hours, 7 blistered toes, both heals blistered, and lost a toenail all in 16 miles.
Again, good times.
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 weather was good the whole way.
Excellent climb, completed in one 15 hour push from Spanish Creek TH. Almost got struck by lightning!
We were going to try the North Ridge but didn't want to risk being on the ridge if a storm moved in. So we opted for the Standard Route over Challenger Point and then back over Challenger Point. Willow Lake base camp is breathtaking and the wildlife was abundant.
#1 08-13-2020 With Yadahzoemtn from Willow Lake via Challenger Point and the avenues. Nice weather and a beautiful day. Reached the summit in 5+12 and spent a wonderful 55 minutes there. The return was, of course, over Challenger Point. The scree slope between Challenger's notch and the area above Willow Lake continues to provide frustration, but RMFI crews are doing some nice trail work in the lower portions. Thanks to them for their hard work. No mosquitoes at the camping site. Kit Carson becomes our 56th 14er. Only two to go to complete the list of 58.
Forgot to log this one; prompted when backing up my summit logs. Done together with Obstruction Point->Columbia pt (Kat Carson)->Kit Carson->Challenger Point.
The north ridge was a blast. Deff wear a helmet. Almost saw two big horn sheep get taken out by rockfall
Repeat ascent: first time in 2005.
This time did a nice loop from Challenger Point, Kit Carson, Columbia Point, Kitty Cat Carson, and Obstruction Peak.
Wonderful climb up the Prow, tagging Challenger, Kit Carson, and Columbia. 12 hrs roundtrip car to car from Spanish Creek Baca Grande trailhead.
Solo trip in a single day from trailhead across icy Avenue
Amazing traverse from South Colony Lakes. This peak has one of the best views of the sand dunes and Crestones in one shot.
Hiked Columbia Point, Kit Carson, and Challenger from South Colony Lakes.
Climbed 14,081 ft. Challenger Point and 14,165 ft. Kit Carson Peak on an overnight solo climbing trip. Hiked up the Willow Creek trail and camped just below Willow Lake on Saturday. On Sunday morning I awoke around 5:30 AM. I hiked around Willow Lake in the dark and then I climbed up the North Slope of Challenger Point. About half way up Challenger the clouds rolled in and socked me in, for the entire remainder of the climb I could not see more than 50 feet in front of me. Regardless I was motivated and made the summit of 14,081 ft. Challenger Point at 9:00 AM. From Challenger I climbed down to the a saddle between Challenger and Kit Carson Peak and took a class 3 route along Kit Carson "Avenue". The Avenue is a unique feature to Kit Carson and allows for a somewhat moderate but exposed traverse to a gully that you have to climb to make the summit. (Kit Carson has sheer cliffs on most other routes) I made the summit of 14,165 ft. Kit Carson Peak at 10:15 AM and had to backtrack back to the summit of Challenger Point, and then all the way down the tedious rocky/scree covered slope down to my camp at Willow Lake. I made it back to camp around 1:30 PM, packed up and headed back to the trail head, arriving back at my car around 4:00 PM. A total of 14.5 miles round trip with 6,250 ft. of elevation gain. 37 Fourteeners down!