Challenger Point  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-09-26, By: mountainmaestro
Info: Snow on the upper reaches of the slope to the notch will likely persist until next year (barring an abnormally warm and dry October). The snow was in decent condition in the early afternoon and is perhaps more comfortable to descend (with traction!) than dirt and loose rock. Everyone says the descent is hard after climbing the two peaks and they are right. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-09-22, By: Araujo38
Info: Climbed North Slope route on Challenger Point from Trailhead at 8850'. My wife and I left TH at 4 am. We summited at about 11 am and were back in the car a little after 5pm. The excellent trail to Willow lake makes a one day ascent relatively easy and practical if you are fit enough to be comfortable with 5400 vertical feet gain in one day, but the camping near willow lake is very nice and makes the ascent much easier. There is some snow above 13,500'. We used microspikes from about 13,600' to the summit ridge. Microspikes made the ascent, and even more so the descent, easier and safer on this steep section. Once in the summit ridge microspikes are not needed. Helmets are probably a good idea if people are above you on the slope leading to the summit ridge as there is a lot of loose rock that can be knocked down. Most of the trail below 13,500' still has essentially dry summer conditions. 
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Route: North Slope
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. 
 
Route: From KC via Avenue
Posted On: 2020-09-16, By: k_fergie
Info: KC avenue is loaded up really thick with snow right at the start where it meets Kirk couloir. Bring traction, it wont melt out till summer 2021. Photo shows it being wind loaded with fresh snow, my tracks were nearly filled in after 30-40 mins. At least while I was there this morning, snow was being transported into that section of the avenue at 1-3 inches per hour. I didn't take the standard north slopes up, but they looked thick with snow from up on top. No signs of anything N facing melting much, if at all 
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Route: North Slope
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 Slope
Posted On: 2020-09-04, By: Eli Watson
Info: 99% summer conditions but fresh snow dustings are starting to linger in the shady spots of northern aspects observed around 11:00 AM. Easily avoidable, just watch your feet. 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-15, By: jordanthebuff
Info: The hike to the lake is wonderful, but once you start going up towards the ridge, it gets rough. It's all mostly loose rock/gravel basically the entire way. It's classified as a difficult class 2, but if you don't take the best line, you can end up doing some class 3 moves. In addition, some remaining snow melt along the rock rib made some of the rocks wet and extra slippery, so be careful. I definitely felt better doing this with a helmet. The notch to summit portion is wonderful, really great ridge hiking! 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-11, By: madmattd
Info: RMFI's excellent trail runs from the lake to ~12,550' as of this report. I inquired and from what I understood, it sounds like long-term it is planned to run until ~13,000', near where the (currently wet from snow melt) slabs take over. Above that the current routes will still be the only options. In the meantime the 12,550'-13,000' section is eroded, loose herd paths on somewhat steep slopes. Up higher is an exercise in patience; either you deal with loose stuff on very steep slopes, or you stay more towards climber's right and scramble on varied-difficulty rocks). I ended up ascending a few tricky chimneys, on the descent I did my best on the looser sections as I didn't want to downclimb those chimneys. Wear a helmet above the traverse at 13,200', rocks will fall on you if others are above you, almost guaranteed (mostly small rocks at least). 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-05, By: miniarmstrong
Info: The new trail in progress from RMFI makes the lower section of Challenger Point (above the lake) straightforward. Consider donating to RMFI, as I lamented when their new trail ended. (Challenger is a slog). I had to cross one snowfield that was well-traveled and safe, not needing special equipment. Portions of the ascent had running water and made the looser sections challenging to descend and avoid causing rockfall to parties below. Helmet recommended. Summer conditions. 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-04, By: cougar
Info: Remaining snow can mostly be avoided, but melt from it ices up part of the route in the morning, and stays wet through the day. Trail crew was out, but said the new trail won't go to the ridge, just a few hundred more feet. Not much help, still nasty. Trail crew has a big camp, so camping spots were limited, even on a Wednesday night. Bear bag ropes are already set up. Expect your tent to be pretty close to a neighbor if you get there late or on a weekend. 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-06-20, By: CaptCO
Info: Step 1: switchback that booty Step 2: filter water above lake Step 3: deal with loose wet rock to saddle and class 3/4 moves to avoid snow Step 4: gain saddle and stay on ridge crest for bomber rock Step 5: summit challenger and look at all the people ascending from the avenue Good-ish conditions. Didn't need traction but used ice axe for epic glissade to avoid terrible rock (even on the “new” route” Be prepared for class 3 moves and tedious footwork 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-06-19, By: ClarkNunnelly
Info: Summited via North Slopes -- Some snow in the basin and makes route finding difficult. Had about 4 snow crossings in the gully area but easily navigated. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: Aphelion
Info: Descended the North Slope around 1130AM, the upper few inches were getting sloppy but overall appeared firm and consolidated. Snow still covers the majority of the route above the basin floor. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-05-10, By: stickmann
Info: The Willow Lake approach is almost entirely clear of snow and there are only a few short sections of snow to navigate. I planned on doing Kirk Couloir but there appeared to be slide activity near the bottom, big blocks of snow detached from the bottom layer, so I decided to try the North Slope. There is snow covering the North Slope route and I needed crampons + ice axe. I started late and made the decision to turn around due to snow quality concerns. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-10-21, By: Sidius303
Info: Snow was blowing very hard and the chill before daylight was punishing. A lot of the loose rock was covered by a good 6 inches and 2 feet while others were just icy. Had I not had my dog and better gear I might have made it the whole way. The wind was also quite relentless with dry snow pelting me in the face. This is my first report so I hope it helps someone. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-09-10, By: tcphoto87
Info: Hiked KC and Challenger on Monday for my 34th and 35th 14ers. We did it all in one go. Started just before 3am. The Willow Lake approach felt like it went by real fast but we got there around 6:30 right as the sun was creeping up. The absolute worst part of the hike is the loose section heading up to the ridge around 13400+ (Photo 16 in the route description) I felt like I screwed my knee up there and was a lot more slow going to the summit but made it around 10:20. Didn't encounter any snow or ice along the trail even tho NOAA called for snow the night before. Perfect clear day! 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-08-21, By: supranihilest
Info: Aside from the numerous creek crossings, all of which can be done without getting wet, the entire route is dry. There's a trail crew working on the lower third of the route above the lake and the new trail is fantastic compared to the old one. Once you're past the trail the route becomes braided and extremely loose. Use caution not to kick rocks down, especially if there are people below you. 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-22, By: Hershel
Info: The route is in good condition. There are several snowfields that still must be crossed, but no gear was necessary. That being said, don't miss the 'easiest' route across them. There is a final snow field crossing before you gain the last ~400 feet of gain below the ridge. There are many lines, either from trailblazers or the way the route has perhaps changed as the snow has melted. The way we took was the shortest line and it currently has good steps kicked in. I'd call the moves from rock to snowfield and snowfield to rock perhaps dicey depending on your comfort level and leg length. If you're not familiar with the route, just take your time. 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-14, By: davisrice4
Info: Mosquitos!!! Buy a bug net. You will be much happier with it. Bug spray doesn't faze em. Trail up challenger is in good shape (thanks to all the workers up there, tell them thanks!), still a few snowfields to cross, but good steps are in place and traction/floatation is unnecessary. Nearly full summer conditions. 
 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-14, By: Dose
Info: Still two snow fields to cross. Makes route finding a little challenging but just stay just right of the gully and we had no issues. 
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