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New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 8:02 pm
by calee1418
I am getting my plans together to make a trip up Challenger and Kit Carson. This will be my first trip up a 14er. What are things you wish you would have known before going and how silly would it be to camp under willow lake in mid May?

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 8:06 pm
by Urban Snowshoer
The real question should be: are you prepared for it?

Pay attention to the trip reports and conditions reports--those peaks are not ones to mess around with unless you are experienced in snow climbing.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 8:19 pm
by CaptainSuburbia
calee1418 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:02 pm I am getting my plans together to make a trip up Challenger and Kit Carson. This will be my first trip up a 14er. What are things you wish you would have known before going and how silly would it be to camp under willow lake in mid May?
You'll likely need an axe and crampons for the Avenue.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 8:29 pm
by supranihilest
People have died on Kit Carson Avenue when there's snow. Kit Carson and Challenger are not easy in less than ideal conditions and are not good starter peaks. I highly recommend doing easier peaks first.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 8:32 pm
by cottonmountaineering
supranihilest wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:29 pm People have died on Kit Carson Avenue when there's snow. Kit Carson and Challenger are not easy in less than ideal conditions and are not good starter peaks. I highly recommend doing easier peaks first.
+1, that route wont melt out in May

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 10:00 pm
by greenonion
Listen to these people if this is really your first 14er and you want to do them in May. Not a huge deal when the snow melts out but at least 2 places on this route will probably have lots of snow in May that a beginner should understand. One if them is the long steep gulley up (and down) Challenger. The other is parts of the Avenue on KC. A slip on either without the right equipment, or without knowing how to use that equipment, could easily kill you. About 11 years ago we tried this in mid June and had to do a goofy round about way to avoid the snow filled gulley of Challenger. It worked and we summited Challenger but glad it wasn’t wet or icey on the route we did. Then, from there we headed over to KC and the first part of the Av. We had no axes crampons or spikes and were not willing to cross the snow filled Avenue of which a fall/slip would have been the last. I’m no expert here and my risk tolerance and skill is roughly average, so who knows where you are. BUT you say it’s your first 14er(s) while trying in May. It’s a lower snow year in CO in general but there’s still plenty of snow high up in May. Consider these two in drier conditions later in summer or another year, and then we’ll get to tell you about the bastard bitch of that soul sucking gulley on Challenger. Especially on the descent. Stay safe and consider other lead-in mountains. This equation just doesn’t add up to me.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Mon May 10, 2021 10:20 pm
by daway8
calee1418 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:02 pm What are things you wish you would have known before going...?
For that answer, check out this trip report - it was one of my earliest reports so not my best work but it gets the point across right from the title of: "A Crazy Long Day" https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine
calee1418 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:02 pm ...how silly would it be to camp under willow lake in mid May?
Very bad idea if this is your 1st 14er and you're not experienced climbing snow covered mountains. Fantastic place in summer. Potentially deadly in winter/spring. If you're hiking mid-May for a 1st 14er I'd stick with one of the standard "intro" peaks like Quandary or Bierstadt - they're both really nice peaks and won't be nearly as crowded in mid-May as they will be mid-summer plus they're mostly avy safe (we're still in the season for wet loose avalanches in case you're not aware). Also be sure to check the forecast...

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Tue May 11, 2021 4:03 am
by huffy13
supranihilest wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:29 pm People have died on Kit Carson Avenue when there's snow. Kit Carson and Challenger are not easy in less than ideal conditions and are not good starter peaks. I highly recommend doing easier peaks first.
Solid advice, especially if aiming for mid-May timeframes. If you are dead set on a Sangre 14er I would recommend something along the lines of Humboldt, still not an easy day when snow is present, but not near as committed as the C/KC combo. Heck, don't necessarily limit your scope to a 14er. There's a lot of great 13ers that will offer a challenge and still have views that rival any larger mountain.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Tue May 11, 2021 6:42 am
by desertdog
I think you see a trend here. Maybe Kit is a bit much for your first one. Most of the 14ers are straight forward if you stay on route. You add snow, and some of them ratchet up in difficulty. I think Kit fits this bill. There have been lots of problems over the years with people getting off route on Kit. Especially coming down. Missing the Avenue etc. Look at Humboldt as an alternative. Much more doable and fun.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Tue May 11, 2021 6:45 am
by peter303
Tis winter in May above treeline. I saw a foot of new snow there today.
What brand of four season camping gear, snowshoes, ice axe, crampons and avalanche transceiver do you have?

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Tue May 11, 2021 7:17 am
by greenonion
peter303 wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 6:45 am Tis winter in May above treeline. I saw a foot of new snow there today.
What brand of four season camping gear, snowshoes, ice axe, crampons and avalanche transceiver do you have?
Bingo.

Re: New to the 14ers

Posted: Tue May 11, 2021 7:55 am
by MaxmimumMills4
Attached is a photo of the Avenue in May from a trip I took a few years ago. I wanted to send it but thank god my partner held me back. You would be an absolute ding dong to attempt crossing the avenue without proper equipment and experience in the early season. Challenger is doable imo without either but is painful.