Challenger Point  
Condition Updates  
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-03-08, By: wintersage
Info: Just dittoing angry's report below, the warm temps did indeed make the descent a little more challenging. It also made the ascent a little dicey without crampons so we decided to stick to the rocks all the way up to the ridge, so we gained the ridge a little bit to the northwest of the standard route. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-03-07, By: angry
Info: Previous tracks were completely gone. Thanks to Randy1983 who was camping out and put in a trench to the lake. From lake, had to break trail in fresh snow until heading up rock rib. Stashed snowshoes at ~12,400. KC avenue wind loaded and no evidence of anyone attempting since last storm. Very warm temps made for sloppy snow on descent. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-03-01, By: moon stalker
Info: Tracks to the lake in good shape. On the slope, the rock rib indicated by previous post is still good. Microspikes were helpful in addition to ax. There was a trench on the far side of the avenue, looks like maybe someone has been on it recently. I would have tried it if my partner hadn't turned around. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-02-23, By: malawi
Info: Good trench until about a mile before Willow Lake. Put on snow shoes a little before that. Had to break new trail as I got close to Willow lake, and after. Attempted to follow the summer route for the last 1000 ft, but there was 3-4 inches of windblown crusted snow, over a weak layer. I was poking through to deeper snow, so I opted to go up near the rocks (see yellow line on photo). Looking westward, the red line in the photo might have been an option. Ice ax was helpful on the way down, since the mix of snow and ice around the rocks made the descent slippery. Beautiful day, except for a windy summit. Frozen waterfall at Willow lake was spectacular. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-02-14, By: Will_E
Info: Long hard effort to reach Challenger's summit today. There was a really good trench nearly all the way to where the trail levels out before Willow Lake, I put snowshoes on just before reaching the plateau. Tough trenching from there to Willow Lake, there were a few places a trench appeared, but it was mostly windblown. And by the time I was on my return, much of that was windblown. After passing the lake and starting up Challenger's steep slope, I got partway up and started encountering parts that had really stiff snow, so used crampons. Left them on all the way to summit and back down because, you know, I'm lazy. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-01-24, By: RobLowe
Info: Road gated 1.3 miles below the summer TH. Boot pack or dirt to the headwall below the lake. Above head wall flotation is helpful. Crampons needed for the couloirs on the north slope. Avy danger is patent: the storms last week plus the high winds later in the week loaded the north slope from 12,500 to 13,900. Snow was waist deep and higher at these elevations. Long, variable glissade back to the basin above the lake. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2021-01-19, By: pboldt94
Info: Was able to skin from the trailhead to about 10,000 I would say. Had to walk ski's ~1 mile until snow reappeared up the trail. There are sections where there is absolutely no snow. Once I reached about 10,750, was able to skin all the way above the lake. to about 11,500-12,000. I would recommend skinning or snow snow-shoeing if possible. There were a lot of post-hole tracks from 10,000-11,500, especially near the lake. The north face is still relatively bare, but avalanche risk is obviously something to be cautious of. Saw clear signs of small avalanches that had occurred. Once to the ridgeline at 13,700, it has snow and dry spots that vary. Recommend crampons or yaktracks for 12,000 feet to summit. Higher winds were apparent at ridgeline. 
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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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