Challenger Point

Date to Climb: July 09, 2009

Date Climbed: July 16, 2009

Elevation: 14,081

Range: Sangre de Cristo

Latitude: 37.98024, Longitude: -105.60643

Route: North Slopes ll, Class 2

Kit Carson

Date to Climb: July 09, 2009

Date Climbed: July 16, 2009

Elevation: 14,165

Range: Sangre de Cristo

Latitude: 37.97958, Longitude: -105.60250

Route: West Ridge ll, Class 3

Round-Trip Mileage: 8 (from the lake)

Pre-Approach Comments

Though it had not been long it is still time to shop, shower, suds in Buena Vista, then make haste to Willow Creek Trailhead for a 4.75 mile approach. We could start the climb from the trailhead, but it would be a another long climb. OOps, we did not do it from Willow Creek, but instead were going to do it from South Colony Lakes. It is supposed to be a day of adventure traversing from South Colony!

Pre-Climb Comments

Ray and Monica were going to keep Jake while we did this long and difficult scramble. We will have a long traverse to get in position to climb Kit Carson. After climbing Kit we will descend and climb Challenger, then reverse everything.

Post-Climb Comments

We were originally hoping to do these peaks from Willow Lake but it would have taken an extra day or an extremely long one. Instead, we would climb Kit Carson and Challenger by traversing across from South Colony Lake.

Ray, Monica, Jake telling us goodbye

Ray and Monica took Jake on Humboldt, his second climb of the peak.

Moving by 6:00, we made quick progress to the saddle of Humboldt and on to gain the jagged ridgeline leading toward Crestone Peak. As we left the trail we said goodbye to Jake, Ray, and Monica as they climbed Humboldt (yes, that was Jake’s second climb of Humboldt - he wants to be a guide dog!) The ridge was hard and time consuming as we tried to find the quickest passage. It took almost an hour before we reached the Bear’s Playground.

The cairns across the high meadow were easy to follow as we skirted Obstruction Peak. After a few ridge crossings we climbed the face of Kitty Kat. It was not hard climbing, but continued to take an accumulative toll on our energy.

Typical terrain looking back at the Crestone Peak

Following cairns, we next topped what we thought was Columbia Point or Kat Carson. From there, the crux of the route began. It was very difficult finding a good route down and over to Kit Carson that was not above a class four downclimb. Finally, we decided to downclimb a shallow face. We lowered ourselves to a ridge and from the ridge, a few careful moves led us down to a traverse around a shark fin-looking spire (the shark fin shape was not visible looking down from above but was very obvious from Kit Carson.)

Amy climbing on Columbia

Climbing on Columbia

Finally, at the saddle between the Columbia Point and Kit Carson, we climbed to the Avenue, a ramp-like feature that goes more than half way around Kit Carson. From the end of the Avenue we climbed to the top of Kit Carson. Time was wasting as was our strength. After taking a few pictures we started down.

Kit Carson summit

Amy on Kit Carson summit

Next, we had to downclimb the Avenue and then traverse the south side of Kit Carson to join the saddle of Kit and Challenger. The cairned path up Challenger was easy, but we had to encourage our legs to make every step. Nothing was easy any longer.

On top of Challenger we were alone again. This was the only day that we did not climb with or meet other climbers. There was a party on Challenger thirty minutes or so before we arrived, but they left before we summited and they came from Willow Creek.

Challenger summit

Summit Plaque

We made our two summits, now all we had to do was to reverse our steps back to camp. It was a LONG way home.

Note: We stayed on top of the jagged edge, returning with few ventures to either side. It was faster and easier than trying to skirt around the Bridget.

It was 4 when we returned to camp. Ten hours of movement since we had started that morning. We were hungry, tired, and thirsty. Thankfully, Ray had made us water. We drank, then ate, and then slept. We had to get some energy for our next big day the Crestones.

Kit Carson Peak - July 16, 2009 summit check

Challenger Point - July 16, 2009 summit check