Kit Carson/Challenger Point

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Kit Carson/Challenger Point

Postby Ackbar » Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:10 am

Howdy everyone,

I'm from near Lubbock, TX, elev 3300' and my buddy currently lives in Houston, elev -3300' (kidding).

We both have plenty of class 4 and 5 experience, for flatlanders anyway, but not anything above 12000 and mostly between 7000 & 10000.

Is KC via Challenger Point a reasonable 1st (and 2nd) ascent? How much exposure? Any class 4?

Also, is the TH from Willow Lake, where you go through Crestone, the best way? I read something about a South Colony road coming in from the east also. We won't have 4WD. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Gig `em,
"with gravity times velocity times speed, by the time it hits you, it hurts pretty bad"
--Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett
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Postby strat1080 » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:59 am

If you are comfortable with Class 4 already you shouldn't have a problem with those 2 mountains. I did that combo last September and it was a fun trip. The only exposure that is pretty bad is when you are going from Challenger to KC on KC Avenue. It is a ledge that winds around KC. It is a pretty wide ledge however. From a distance it looks very narrow and exposed but once you get to it, you will feel comfortable. As long as you are in shape and are comfortable with Class 3 you should be ok. The route-finding can be tricky on parts of Challenger and finding the right gully to go up KC can also be tricky. Overall they aren't very hard to climb technically. The views of the Crestones are breath-taking.
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.
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Postby JoeyJ » Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:46 am

The route description on this site is very good from willow lake trail. I think most 2wd trucks/vehicles can get to TH no prob. Exposure is almost a non factor on this one. I get rattled by exposure sometimes, and this one didn't even make me think twice. You could about drive an ATV along KC avenue, and the class 3 gully up Kit is a stretch and perhaps a little closer to cls 2+ with an occasional cls 3 move maybe. If you're doing cls 4/5 exposed stuff- this route will be a walk in the park 4 you. THe whole route never comes close to class 4, but you could find some if you wanted, or got off route. If you do it, make good mental notes of your entry/exit onto KC avenue, as lots of folk (including this one) :oops: sometimes miss this exit and over descend.

This hike is magnificient if you like scenery! and I love this place-
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Postby Devin » Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:55 am

The approach from Willow lake is long, but easy. You should have no problems. Willow lake is one of the coolest mountain lakes I have seen. Also, I made it to the TH in a Honda Accord.
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Postby MtHurd » Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:58 am

If you plan on climbing Challenger and Kit via Willow Lake in one day from the trailhead, it will be a long one. It is better to set up a base camp at Willow Lake and then climb the two the next day. If you are comfortable with class 4, Kit and Challenger shouldn't be a problem at all. Columbia Pt. would be a worthy goal too if you have time and is more challenging that Kit.
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Postby Spinedoc » Mon Apr 09, 2007 10:48 am

My friend and I are planning on tackling Kit and Challenger from S. Colony. Does anyone have any experience with this route? Can you keep it Class III from this approach?
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Postby rijaca » Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:31 am

I did KC from S. Colony Lakes a long time ago. I don't recall a lot of details, but it was a pretty long day. Some climbing partners didn't like the looks of the downclimb from Columbia Point to KC and stopped there.
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Postby Layne Bracy » Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:42 am

I thought the downclimb from Columbia Pt back towards KC was about as tough as class 3 could be(i.e. any harder and it would be class 4). There may be an easier route than what I took, but there were definitely harder ones!
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Postby Jim Davies » Mon Apr 09, 2007 2:29 pm

KC from either side is a long day with a lot of thunderstorm exposure. Start early and keep an eye on the weather if you're going to try it. For this reason it probably isn't a good 1st 14er, as you might want to build your knowledge of how to deal with weather, and your own speed and need for food/water/etc., on some easier routes (with easier bailouts) first.
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Postby Ghigs » Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:20 pm

I did this combination from Willow Lake last summer and it was long but definately not technical. Approach from the west is the way to go with a 2WD vehicle. It's a l o n g hike up the South Colony Lakes Road from the 2WD parking lot, though it's less elevation gain than the Willow Lake approach.
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Postby Timmy » Mon Apr 09, 2007 4:14 pm

Spinedoc wrote:My friend and I are planning on tackling Kit and Challenger from S. Colony. Does anyone have any experience with this route? Can you keep it Class III from this approach?

The 'road' to the South colony Lake TH is wicked. 4x4 for sure and if it's wet you can expect it to be even more difficult. Also plan on some Colorado pinstripes. The hike from the TH over Columbia Point (formerly Kat Carson), Kit Carson and Challenger Point is all straight forward. Easily doo-able at class 3 but it will be a long day.

The class 3 will be ascending and descending Columbia Point on the Kit Carson side and then descending Kit Carson to Challenger. You can bypass this on the way back to Columbia Point.

We did Crestone Needle, traverse to Crestone Peak and then Columbia Point and Humbolt in one day. The next day we did Columbia Point, Kit Carson and Challenger Point back over Columbia Point to the TH. A long two days of climbing...

(RAH)² (AH)³ + [ROMA (1+MA)] + (GA)² + (OOH)(LA)²
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Postby Aggie_05 » Mon Apr 09, 2007 4:47 pm

Hey Jason, I moved to Colorado last summer after graduating from A&M. 2WD means you must do these from the west (Crestone),
but this means you get to see (and probably spend the night at) Willow Lake which is one of the most beautiful I've seen in Colorado.
The mention of thunderstorm exposure is true, I've been turned away TWICE pretty high up on Challenger due to storms
(but I'm a wimp when it comes to thunder above tree line).

No experience at altitude? Bring some painkillers, because you'll likely get a killer headache.

James, Class of 05

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