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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-10-15||Route: North Slope
Info: Snow the last 500' or so to the ridge. Hardly any snow on the ridge. A little snow in the first part of the avenue to KC, but it's dry after that. Microspikes would probably be helpful for the descent down Challenger.
|2016-10-09||Route: North Slope
Info: Summer conditions for the most part. Snow is starting to collect on the northern aspects. Original plan was to do Kit Carson as well, but thick cloud cover made me turn around after summiting Challenger Point. Route up is easy to identify and follow. Bring traction if you are not comfortable walking on snow that is packed. It took 2hr02min to reach Willow Lake, summited Challenger at 4hr05min and round trip took 6hr35min. Sorry no pictures of the traverse over to Kit Carson as it was obscured by the clouds. Only northern slopes seem to be holding snow right now.
|2016-10-02||Route: North Slope
Info: quick update: the route is still almost entirely snow free. There is one section of the steep loose scree that has a snow patch on it, but you can either pick your way carefully around it or hike up it (there is a nice boot pack). I did not use any traction and it was safe.
|2016-09-17||Route: North Slope
Info: The North Slope route is steep and loose, and not much fun as stated in previous reports. Honestly though, I don't think it is any worse than any other steep/loose route you'll find on many of the 14ers. This route is very doable if you just take your time and follow the cairns. FYI - A small amount of snow is starting to collect on parts of the trail. Not a problem yet, but will be once it dusts a few more times. Get it while you can.
|2016-09-11||Route: North Slope
Info: No snow. But that standard route gully is crappy loose dirt and rock... one of worst descents. Numerous trails cut through back and forth as people tried to find the best way down. (No one has.)
|2016-09-10||Route: North Slope
Info: Challenger and Kit in ideal condition right now; no snow on the route and avenue is clear enough. Get it while it's hot.
|2016-08-29||Route: North Slope
Info: There was rain Sunday night into Monday morning. When we got the lake, you could see fair amount of snow on the rocks. We had hoped to do Kit Carson North Ridge, but not with snow. Expected rain late morning and afternoon. Turned around at 12100 as clouds came in. Some snow in the gullery
|2016-08-28||Route: North Slope
Info: Rained last night. Trail was pretty muddy from about 1/2 mile before lake off and on past the lake. There was some minor snow higher up the slope and at the notch/saddle. Not all could be avoided. Lower down the slope many of the slabs were wet. Ridge to summit was dry and no problem at all. While the north slope was a little messy in spots, it turned out to not be too bad. I didn't use spikes anywhere along the Challenger route nor did I see anyone else using them. It was warm and sunny most of the day and when I left so perhaps that north slope snow will melt out/dry up soon.
|2016-08-23||Route: North Slope
Info: Sangres got snow on Monday evening. Actually it's several inches or more (depending on aspect) of low grade hail. Trails got icy. More importantly, winds above 11.5k (our high point) appeared to be in 40-50 mph range. Overall conditions were more reminiscent of October rather than August.
|2016-07-17||Route: North Slope
Info: No need for any snow gear, but there is plenty of snow in the rib to help guide your route up challenger slopes (see route info). The slope is extremely loose. I was glad I had hiking boots w/ ankle cover (as opposed to trail runners, low cut). The avenue to KC and remainder of route also no need for any snow gear. Warning: There are "TONS" of mosquitoes at the lake and campsites. The trail from the parking lot up also has its fair share. Take plenty of bug spray (BE CAREFUL: DEET CAN HARM SYNTHETIC FABRICS AND DAMAGE PLASTICS). This does not mean to avoid deet products, just use wisely. I took 3 different kinds of sprays (DEET, picardin, and one other odorless kind). They were all mild to moderately effective and worth carrying. RECOMMENDATION: Bring an appropriate mosquito net for designed for head/face. I saw a few intelligent people using them.......I was not one of those people. We had no problems with bears but there are bighorn and other smaller creatures wandering camp so protect your food/gear. The smoke from the Hayden fire is evident looking back into the SLV, but you dont really notice the smell until you hit the Challenger Ridge (note the fire is north and on the opposite side of the Sangres as this climb, so this route is open and at this time I do not foresee a closure due to the current wildfire. There are plenty of places to filter water near the lake. There is a stream not far from most of the campsites (slightly further down the main trail. Above the lake however there is only one good spot which is essentially the flowing stream you must cross which is about to become the waterfall at the far end of the lake. After that there is really nothing else. So this is your last chance to filter during your climb. DO NOT RECOMMEND Mapquest to get to Crestone. My directions were missing 20 miles. Use another source. Iknow some of you like to see times so here is mine from campsite. Leave camp 505am>summit challenger 745am>leave challenger 800am>summit KC 900am> leave KC 915am>re-summit challenger 1015am> leave challenger 1040am> back to camp 120pm. Yes it took just as long to descend the challenger slopes as it did to climb it.
|2016-07-16||Route: North Slope
Info: Mosquitoes from the TH to above the lake remain mortally epic. I only got a few bites by first covering the skin of my arms, legs, chest, and face with repellent, and then spraying my clothes. I wore a long-sleeved shirt over my t-shirt, long climbing pants, a hat with a "Sahara" neck flap, and mountain-biking gloves. For the pre-dawn hike in, I'd recommend a thin rain shell, too, as I got some bites on my shoulders, despitef the clothing and repellent. On the descent, I forgot to put on the gloves and got several bites on my hands. These bugs are merciless. As for the trail, the descent from Challenger was one of the least enjoyable of my career. The gully is steep, filled with loose scree and unstable rocks. There are almost no switchbacks. A few hours before my descent, I climber told me of a rock slide in the gully earlier in the day that narrowly missed other climbers. There were lots fresh white "chalk" marks all along the gully that I image were created by the falling rocks. The descent seemed far less stable than the ascent, with many large rocks highly unstable and football-sized rocks highly unstable. I talked with a trail worker for a group affiliated with the 14ers Initiative. They're currently building an alternative trail up Challenger that will feature lots of switchbacks. If you're selecting peaks for your season, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WAITING A FEW YEARS FOR THEM TO COMPLETE THIS NEW TRAIL. She said they would likely finish in two years or so. Of course, if you're trying to finish the list soon, just be prepared for a time-consuming and dispiriting descent. But some good news! In tiny Crestone, the Crestone Brewing Company has opened. Great burgers and beer for the evening before your climb.
|2016-07-12||Route: North Slope
Info: DANGER DANGER DANGER! Mosquitos are really bad, unless the wind blows, on the Willow Lake approach and at the lake. It really ruins what is a great trail and beautiful place. Challenger's route conditions are getting bad. Lose gravel on hard pan with some small rocks. It reminded me of the Columbia route. Needless to say, it took more time than expected to climb. Great conditions to mess up a knee or ankle with the unstable surfaces.
|2016-06-25||Route: North Slope
Info: BUG SPRAY.... If you don't have it, don't bother getting out of your car. Overall great trip. Snow can be totally avoided if you stay to the left of the gully (picture 1). I didn't make it over to Kit Carson, but there were a few groups behind me that may have tried. Picture 2 is a look towards Kit from Challenger summit (hopefully others can provide more details)
|2016-06-21||Route: North Slope
Info: Much of the snow is melted, however, there are still snow patches covering parts of the trail on the North Slope. This forced us to find alternative routes in some places going up the North Slope. Ran into two snow patches that we couldn't seem to get around, was able to cross one with just an ice axe, but had to get out the crampons for the second. I would recommend waiting a little longer if you plan on attempting to summit without snow gear as the snow is very rotten and does not hold well. Was able to summit Challenger point but the avenue over to Kit Carson had just enough rotten snow to push us to the edge, we deemed it too dangerous to cross and turned around. There is a lot of melting so expect wet feet and be careful when descending the North Slope, by noon the entire slope is flowing with water. P.S. The mosquitoes were absolutely horrendous on the Willow Lake approach, bring A LOT of bug spray or wait until later in the season. I had never seen mosquitoes so bad before.
|2016-06-11||Route: North Slope
Info: A couple photos of Challenger Pt north slopes and ridge as seen from Kit Carson Pk.
|2016-05-28||Route: North Slope
Info: Main Trail head is completely clear of snow and easily accessible via 2WD vehicle. I hit Snow at around mile 3.25 from the trailhead. I put snowshoes on just before Willow Lake as I was beginning to post hole quite a bit even at 7:00AM. The accent to the peak was not easy. Lots of loose snow and very steep. I would not attempt unless you bring spikes or good snow shoes. However, the snow is melting quickly up there. Hiking on the ridge with all the snow was more than a little sketchy in spots. Be aware that there is a lot of exposure on this route will there is as much snow on the peak. Hiking over to Kit Carson was completely out of the question if you take a look at the photos.
|2016-05-14||Route: North Slope
Info: Challenger is stacked.
|2016-02-14||Route: North Slope
Info: Approach to Willow Lake: Excellent boot pack to ridge then dry or icy until about 2 miles in. Microspikes are perfect for the first two miles. Then snowshoes. I trenched to about 0.5 miles below Willow Lake. The drainage below the lake holds a lot of deep snow with a crust that only occasionally supports snowshoes. No sign of any previous trench. If you can make it to the lake the snow is supposed to ease up. Without friends to share the trenching I had to turn back.
|2016-01-22||Route: North Slope
Info: There is a good snowshoe and skin track going in to Willow Lake. Some of the trail on South facing aspects is dry. I would recommend against skiing the approach. Near tree line conditions soften substantially. The North Slope is holding quite a bit of snow. It is very deep and unconsolidated, but it is stable. I scrambled a talus rib to the left of the main gully and then plunge stepped down the gully as a descent. It wasn‘t bad. The traverse to Kit Carson is out of condition due to snow accumulation. I stepped past The Prow and fell in up to my waist. It seems the only viable option to combine the two in a day is to climb the last pitch of The Prow. It‘s very do-able as an up and down climb and feels about the same as the hardest section of the bells traverse. I‘ve read that people are calling it 5.6. It is mostly sustained 4th class with a few harder bits, and it is VERY exposed. It is definitely not 5.6.
|2015-10-17||Route: North Slope
Info: Climbed Challenger Point and Kit Carson on a very warm October Saturday. Left the Willow Creek trailhead at 4:00 am. Reached Willow Lake at 6:45 am. Summited Challenger at 10:00 am. Summited Kit Carson at 11:30 am. We made it back to the trailhead by 5:00 pm. It‘s a long day but doable with the great conditions on the route currently. Route tip: The 14ers.com official route ascends the north slope of Challenger on the right side of the snowy gully. I‘ve actually found the rock on the climber‘s left side of the snow gully to be a better choice for both ascent and descent. The rock on the climber‘s right side of the snow gully can be loose. The rock on the climber‘s left side of the snow gully is super solid. To ascend via this route variation, leave the trail and cross the gully right before the snow starts in the gully. Gear: If you follow the route I described above, there is no need for crampons, micro spikes, or an ice axe.