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Challenger Point
standard North Slope
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Difficulty:
 Difficult Class 2 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Willow Creek
Start:8,850 feet
Summit:14,081 feet
Total Gain:5,400 feet
RT Length:12.50 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:7/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:121 reports
Cell Signal:5 reports
Sheriff:Saguache: 719-655-2544
Forest:Rio Grande
Wilderness:Sangre De Cristo
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Take Colorado 17 to the town of Moffat. On the south side of town, look for a sign for the turn to Crestone. Turn east on the "RD T" road. You will soon see a Forest Service sign that says 15 miles to the South Crestone trailhead. Drive 11.4 miles to a road junction. Keep left and follow the main road into Crestone. In Crestone, turn right (east) onto Galena Street and the road will turn to 2WD dirt, with approx. 2 miles to go. When the road enters National Forest, it is labeled as the "South Crestone Road 949" and becomes more difficult but good-clearance vehicles should be able to make it to the end.

Route

Taken from near the town of Crestone, 1 is a look at Challenger from the west. First, follow the Willow Creek Approach to Willow Lake. If you are camping, there are campsites below the lake. Due to social trails, the main trail can be hard to follow near the west end of the lake - 2. Find the trail, follow it along the lake's north side and continue through willows near the shore - 3. Before reaching the headwall/waterfall at the east end of the lake, turn left and climb 150 feet up the hillside - 4. Then turn right and follow the trail to the top of the headwall and waterfall - 5 and 6. Cross the stream above the waterfall and follow cairns and trail segments across the remainder of this flat area - 7. Above 11,800', continue below ledges ( 8 and 9) to reach the base of the north slope, near 11,900' - 10.

Locate the trail that begins the ascent up the grassy slope. As seen in 11, the route climbs left of a rock "rib" and and continues through more difficult terrain, to the right of a large gully. Begin hiking southwest up the slope. After about 500 feet of elevation gain, you will reach the rock rib - 12. Stay near the rib and continue higher as the terrain steepens - 13 and 14. Near 13,200', reach the upper portion of the rib - 15. Turn left a bit and traverse south toward more difficult terrain. Weave up through rock slabs to reach talus-covered terrain - 16. The remaining 600 feet to the ridge is the most difficult portion of the route because the terrain is steep and loose. The key is to stay right of a gully and get closer to it as you approach the ridge crest - 17 and 18. The steepest portion of the slope is between 13,400' and 13,700'. Near the top of the gully and just below the ridge, continue toward a notch in the ridge - 19 and 20. Pass through the notch ( 21 and 22), turn left and climb to the ridge crest - 23.

Follow the ridge southeast toward the summit - 24. Portions of the summit ridge are narrow so some people find it more comfortable to drop a few feet left to avoid the mild exposure. The last 0.1 mile to the summit gets steeper as you gain a bump ( 25) just before the summit - 26 and 27.

Notes

IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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Topo #2:
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