Kit Carson Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-10-13, By: timewarp01
Info: Two short snow fields on the upper half of the Challenger wall below the ridge. Very hard packed so no postholing but pretty slippery on the way down. Traction would help but probably not worth it since they're so small. 
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-10-06, By: kristin_palumbo
Info: Mirroring previous reports. Handful of snow patches going up Challenger. Spikes not required, but were helpful. We did not use them while going up but did put them on while descending and it made it a bit easier. We wished we used them on the way up. Honestly, the snow patches are a nice reprieve from the loose dirt/rocks/scree going up Challenger. Snow on Avenue is 100% avoidable. Beautiful day! No wind on the summit at all! 
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-10-04, By: Sawneagle
Info: Kit Carson via Challenger Route is bare up to about 13,000 feet. At this point, there is intermittent snow. I went up 2-3 sections of somewhat post-holed snow without microspikes (I had them in my pack) to Challenger Point. Challenger Point to Kit Carson - ALL snow is avoidable and pretty minimum to include the Avenue. All in all - I did not use my microspikes, however some people may like them on the descent for a little extra stability. 
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Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-10-03, By: GraceU2DSummit
Info: Great conditions. Still snow on the north face of Challenger that is avoidable but on “the route”. The Avenue has a patch of snow that is also avoidable but gets you near the edge (not a big deal unless you're concerned about the exposure. 
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-10-02, By: Piotr
Info: Kit Carson Avenue appears to be free of snow, here is the picture from Crestone Peak on 10/01 
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Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-09-26, By: mountainmaestro
Info: Avenue still has snow but you can largely avoid it if you want to. I still recommend spikes but many would say it is overkill. 
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Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-09-20, By: terrysrunning
Info: Going up around 8am, didn't use traction. Didn't even need it going to Kit Carson, Columbia, and Kitty Kat. Coming back in the pm, the thousand feet coming down off Challenger to the basin were awful. Traction required, and still uncomfortable at times. Definitely goes though. A 75 year old guy did it the same morning I did, although he didn't continue on, so went down earlier and it might have been better. See my report under Challenger for pics 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-16, By: k_fergie
Info: East Ridge to KC is 99% snow free, no spikes needed. KC Avenue is loaded up heavy with snow, spikes may not be absolutely required, but it'd be gutsy to go without them if you're trying to get both KC and Challenger, I certainly was glad to have them with. The first photos shows the 'start' of the avenue being actively wind loaded with snow. My tracks were nearly completely gone after 30-40 mins.....at this rate its probably 5+ feet deep. The second photo shows the upper face, basically snow free 
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Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-09-15, By: dfralick07
Info: I don't normally post PCRs or TRs, but there were so many people ill prepared attempting to get up Challenger's north slopes, I decided it might help someone this time. The gully up to 13,900' has 6" to 48" of snow in it. Do not attempt this climb, this week, unless you have winter boots, crampons, and an ice axe. Once at the top of the gully, the ridge to the Challenger Point summit is fairly clear, no crampons needed. The downclimb to the top of the Kirk Coulior/the saddle to Kit Carson is fairly snow free, if you stay on the ridgeline. At this point you are going to want to put the crampons back on, as the KC Avenue has a minimum of 48" of snow against the wall, sloped straight to the cliff, the entire Avenue. Once you get to the upclimb on the backside of KC, no crampons or spikes are needed to the summit. P.S. don't forget about snow glare. Bring sunscreen. My face is purple... 
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Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-17, By: ablock0
Info: Like the person below I entered the first very narrow snow-less gully by mistake. Yes some low 5th or smooth wet 4th class brings you to the same North Ridge but its a bit stressful way to start the day. Best to go around TWO cliff bands in to OB Couloir, see attached. North Ridge itself was icy and wet after a big thunderstorm, gropple was melting fast by noon. Found this 'ridge' to be less exposed than touted, yes you can stay on the arete for more fun but its hardly the easiest path. Challenger's N Slopes SUCK, props to RMFI out there attempting to fight the geological forces tearing this thing up. 
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Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-08-16, By: Msbaker
Info: As many others have stated on here, I found Challenger to be more difficult than Kit Carson because of how loose and unstable the upper north slope of Challenger is. Kit Karson Ave is really solid and stable. The summit push after Kit Karson Ave is loose in some spots, but is really well marked and manageable if you take it slow. The north slope of Challenger above 12,500 ft is incredibly loose right now and is in ROUGH shape. I saw multiple rock falls during my ascent and descent of Challenger (again north slope between 12,500 ft and the notch at 13,900). I appreciated the signs going up Challenger which had warnings of "Loose rock - many have died". I hope everyone not wearing a helmet (which was a shocking/insane number of people) saw these signs and starts to take rock falls seriously. The north slope of Challenger was by far the most difficult part of these peaks and especially on the descent when attrition had kicked in. It is only a half of a mile from the summit of Challenger to the summit of Kit Carson, so it is totally worth getting them both. But this hike is truly a battle of attrition as it's over 15 miles and 6,300 feet elevation gain if you don't camp at Willow Lake. That being said this is an unbelievably beautiful hike and one of my absolute favorites. Willow Lake is worth hiking to alone and the views of the Crestones and Humboldt from Kit Carson are incredible. The road in is a breeze as its 2WD with only some minor bumps to circumvent. 
 
Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-11, By: iwoollett
Info: Great trip; camping closed at Willow Lake, but there are a number of campsites just below it. RMFI is doing trail work and has a large base camp there. When approaching the North Ridge, we made the mistake of entering the first narrow couloir thinking it was the Outward Bound couloir and found ourselves having to climb some easy class 5 over somewhat water polished granite before being able to traverse right to the ridge. To avoid making the same mistake, make sure you can see the saddle between Columbia and Kit Carson from the base of the couloir; if not you are probably in the wrong place. Near the top, there is an unmissable wide ledge on the west side of the ridge; it is not mentioned in the route description, but if you follow it, it will take you almost to the summit. It is clearly visible in photos of Kit Carson taken from the west. 
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Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-05, By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: Amazing route! Camping at the lake was almost full at 7pm on a Tuesday. Had a lot of trouble at 4:30am in the willows after the challenger/upper lake turnoff. I couldn't find the low route in the dark with my headlamp and ended up losing my phone and having to backtrack, but luckily only wasted about 20 minutes and found the phone. I gave up and went higher up above all the willows. A previous TR said that this took a lot longer, but if you can't find the lower trail it is definitely better to go higher than wallowing in the willows. The ridge was awesome and I found the climbing and route finding fun but straightforward - stay on the ridge direct or within 15 feet of it all the way to the notch. There are plenty of good holds and lots of options. TH to camp at lake: 2:40 ---- Camp to top of Kit: 2:40 +10 min break at top Kit to Challenger: 0:45 +15 min break at top Challenger to Lake: 1:40 +40 min to break camp Camp to TH: 1:55 Total moving time minus breaks (and I camped) 9:40 
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Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-31, By: Marshall
Info: Approach is super well marked and easy to follow all the way to the branch from the standard trail. There is a crew that seems to be working on a trail there, but the trail didn't last long. Made our way without a trail easily to the couloir (buddy skipped this step once we were past the large boulders in favor of more climbing) then angled over to the ridge. Never touched any snow. Once on the ridge the climbing is sustained all the way with good holds and a fun steepness. Plenty of exposure, but little wind today. Traverse over to Challenger is unremarkable except for a lot of loose rock. The trail off Challenger sucks with lots of loose rock and dirt the majority of the way back to the basin. Thanks to the crew working on it today! 
 
Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-20, By: Lordofthegnar
Info: Was my first sustained class 4 ridge. Felt cocky after the crux wall on Lindsey felt easy; this route was much, much harder. Time to get some better boots for climbing; I reckon my beautiful but heavy and stiff Zamberlans ain't the best choice. OK, when heading to the Outbound Couloir, stay real low in the valley if you can. We went through the giant boulders, and while it was fine, going lower would probably be best. There is a little snow field at the base of the couloir, but you can either bypass it by going up a little higher or just kick into it like we did. It was around 6:40am when we got there and was soft enough to bang out some steps. Second, I think it might be easier to gain the ridge from the grassy ledges as soon as feasibly possible. I went a bit higher than I intended and ended up on some pretty steep stuff with less than great foot holds. I stayed a little right of the ridge most of the way up and tried to work up little crack systems whenever I could to keep the exposure to a minimum, but a few parts did give me the heebie jeebies. Was my 36th peak. Have fun and be safe! Keep an eye on the weather - thunder storms rolled in a little after 1pm on this day, but I was done and back at camp by 11am. 
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-07-15, By: jordanthebuff
Info: The route finding coming down from challenger is a little tough; everyone seemed to take different routes down to the saddle. If you get too low, it just becomes talus hopping, but it's still doable. The avenue was pretty fun and very straight forward. Look for cairns to indicate when to start going up to the summit. The rock in the gully was mostly solid and lots of fun! Great views of the Crestones from the summit. 
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Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-13, By: joemcglinchy
Info: whole shebang in summer conditions. All snow avoidable. RMFI is doing some fantastic trail work up and down Challenger Point. Bravo! 
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-07-13, By: MountainBuhn
Info: Just some pics from he KC/Challenger combo. Challenger ascent and descent remains the hardest part (donate to RMFI!). Also, please bring a helmet even if you're just doing Challenger. You can probably get away without, but these mountains are getting looser by the year. I yelled rock a few times during the day. Kicking rocks down is nearly unavoidable. I don't think the traverse is too tricky, just exhausting. The 14ers route is getting sketchy. We took the steeper part just past the wide notch coming down from the Prow. The route on here says to go down to the double rock rib, but that section is extremely loose. You'll see a cairn just past the wide notch, look left and that's a better route. Some harder class 3 moves, but all on solid rock. This is the most exhausting one I've done to date (this was 33 for me). The 60 degree peak weather and 75-85 degree on the way down to and past the lake didn't help. We finished both from the TH as a day hike. 15 miles and 6,300 gain. 11 hours car to car. 
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Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-07-11, By: maxz
Info: Kit Carson is a tricky fella. He guided at least 4 parties, myself included, between noon and 2 pm, too low when descending the gully and looking to exit to the Avenue. I came up on the solid rock to the left of the scree. Going down, I wanted to be nice and leave the solid rock for others to climb up, so I went on the opposite side of the scree. Big mistake! I went too far left (looking down), and the exit to The Avenue was obscured by one of the rock ribs. At some point, I saw something that resembled The Avenue, but it was too close to the valley below. I also saw a path in places, but later learned that it is a part of the route from Columbia Point to Kit Carson. Jumping in time, the North Slope ascent of Challenger did not seem hard, but the descent was really bad with all the loose rock. I would recommend helmets on North Slope after first hikers start coming down Challenger. I also had hard time route-finding while descending the top half of North Slope, but that could have been because of mental exhaustion on Kit Carson (see above). 
 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2020-07-11, By: madmattd
Info: If you make it up the North Slope to Challenger Point, Kit Carson isn't any harder imo. Technically yes the difficulty is a bit higher, but it's a lot shorter than the tough parts of the ascent up Challenger, and can be done almost entirely on solid rock if desired. The small snow patch on the avenue can be completely avoided without issue at this time (step right over). I found the turn out of the avenue up the gully to be well-marked and had no issues finding it in either direction. As recent reports indicate, stay climber's left in the gully for mostly-solid rock (particularly if you are willing to do more scrambling on moderate C3 terrain). It seemed to make finding the avenue on the way down easier too. Second person to summit Kit Carson on the day with a 6am start from Willow Lake. Personally I enjoyed the trek over from the Challenger-Kit Carson col, and if wasn't for the ascent of Challenger I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The avenue is pretty awesome, and wide enough that exposure wasn't a problem for me. 

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