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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-07-04||Route: North Slope
Info: Willow lake and the approach is a mosquito-fest and quite miserable even with spray they swarm the instant you stop to take a break. North face of Challenger has some snow patches still, not entirely sure where the ‘standard route‘ was, but easy to pick your way up the rocks. There is still a solid couloir on the face which was firm in the morning and perfect to glissade down.
|2015-06-27||Route: Kirk Couloir
Info: I made an attempt at Challenger and Kit Carson on Saturday. The trail is a mosquito love-fest, and hot, so I highly recommend DEET and light canvas pants. It was miserable fending them off and they do not relent until about 13,500‘. Up to the headwall is completely clear of snow, although all the melt is filling parts of the trail with water, so be prepared to get a little wet. That said, I was fine with water-resistant boots, and the big crossings aren‘t hard as long as you‘re careful walking along logs. I hit Kirk‘s Couloir right about sunrise, hoping to make it to the top and then decide whether to try for Kit Carson or just do Challenger. Even before the sun hit the snow the slope was pretty soft, and it only got worse as the day progressed. Even with ice axe and crampons I felt the slope was pretty treacherous, and I recommend not using this route unless you really want to crack your skull open. I finally aborted about 3/4 of the way up, and the ride down was a little heart-pounding. I heard multiple people on the trail say that the north route to Challenger is clear and does not require additional traction beyond a decent pair of boots. I‘ve also heard that Kit Carson is just as loose as Kirk‘s Couloir, and I wouldn‘t attempt it until the snow is gone and the summer trail is exposed. Probably another two weeks at the most. I will post some pictures once they are processed.
|2015-06-14||Route: Kirk Couloir
Info: Dry to the headwall, then patchy snow up to the lake. Skiable snow from the summit to ~12,200‘. Despite all appearances from the valley, the summit holds snow! Don‘t make the same mistake I did. Bring the skis while the getting‘s good! The standard route can be done completely off snow until you gain the summit ridge
|2015-06-07||Route: North Slope
Info: Made a successful but sketchy summit attempt on June 7th. The trail is dry and in great condition to the headwall. Snow starts at the headwall (10,900 feet). From the headwall to Willow Lake it alternates between snow patches and dry trail. This section is frustrating because you have three choices: posthole, snow shoe over dry trail, or transition every 5 min. Above Willow Lake on the North Slope of Challenger, the conditions are no better. Snow is very deep and super slushy. The North Slope is too steep for snow shoes so you‘re stuck sinking in 6-12 inches in crampons. All in all, conditions are poor right now and I‘d recommend giving things at least another couple weeks to melt.
|2015-05-24||Route: North Slope
Info: Clear of snow up to about the headwall. Will need flotation and traction past that. Low visibility and blowing snow above the lake. Turned around at about 12.2k after digging a couple snow pits and finding wind/storm slab instabilities. Will need some time to stabilize.
|2015-04-25||Route: North Slope
Info: Gate was open to summer TH. Dry trail up to 10,700.
|2015-03-08||Route: Kirk Couloir
Info: The trail is now broken (thanks to us) and easy to follow to Willow Lake. There are nice kick-steps to follow up the couloir. From the winter closure the road is mixed dirt and light wet snow pack. Once at the main TH snow shoes are very helpful to 9,800. After that there is a .5 mile section of bare trail before you start the climb to Willow Lake. We used everything, microspikes, crampons, ice axe. The snow was nasty, wet, lose, slushy. If it does not snow this week I would guess most of the snow would be gone.
|2015-02-01||Route: North Couloir to Kirk Couloir
Info: Booted up the North Couloir/ a rock rib next to it. Then climbed the ridge to the summit and skied the Kirk. Ski conditions were all time. Sections were up to 18 inches deep! We camped below Willow Lake so we could get a super early start on the face. Great time with out with Gueza, Krullin_14ers, Julian Smith and Steve Bremner.
|2014-10-07||Route: North Slope
Info: Trail to falls clear and dry. Challenger NW face 70% snow/ice coverage. 2"-10" depth. Some mud at end of warm day. Some ice sections could have been easier with spikes. Kit Carson ave slightly more dangerous, as the first length is full snow/ice bound.
|2014-09-03||Route: North Slope
Info: Summer conditions
|2014-08-30||Route: North Slope
Info: Great condition. No bugs to speak of anywhere. No snow on route. A bit loose higher up, helmet recommended.
|2014-08-23||Route: North Slope
Info: There is snow up high, ranging from a dusting at 13,500 feet, to a couple inches close to the summit. The peak was shrouded in clouds the entire day (Saturday) and it was quite cold up there, so anyone headed to Challenger or Kit Carson on Sunday should definitely expect icy conditions up high.
|2014-07-26||Route: North Slope
Info: The flying insects are still there but manageable with insect repellent. The route from above the lake to the saddle below (before) Challenger Point is loose dirt and loose small rocks. I agree with the previous condition report, that this made the route treacherous. Many found going off trail into the surrounding larger and more interlocked rocks safer but much more time consuming. No snow was encountered on the route.
|2014-06-24||Route: North Slope
Info: This route was still quite snowy and we never made it to Kit Carson. Too much snow and ice without tools. As stated the earlier report, big time MOSQUITO alert. We arrived at the trailhead and were swarmed. We drove back down to the market just off the dirt road and were SO glad we did. Mosquitos off and on from the TH all the way to 13k feet. The lake wasn‘t too bad though. Approach hike was in good condition. Once past the lake, the main north face to Challenger was VERY steep and quite snow covered still. We took the far right line up through the boulder field to the ridge. Summit time 4.5 hours. Another group took the main "trail" (no trail) straight up to the left of the "rock rib", and it took them over 7 hours to summit. Apparently lots of loose rock and snow. The ridge line was in good condition but very dangerous. 2000‘ drop to the west. Go slow. From a distance, the Avenue was still completely snow covered with reports of the opposite even worse. We planned on summiting both, but after the intensely steep Challenger and snow on Kit, we changed plans.
|2014-06-17||Route: North Slope
Info: Climbed the North Slope yesterday from Willow Creek. Snow avoidable for most of the route but becomes unavoidable at points past 13k. No crampons needed on the way up but axe was helpful. We put on crampons for the descent but it may be doable without them. Definitely spicy though. PM for pics or more info.
|2014-05-15||Route: North Slope
Info: The trailhead was dry and in great condition. By the time I got just below the Willowlake headwall I was breaking through 3 feet of snow. I lost the trail before reaching the lake and with no snowshoes had to turn back. It looks like the area needs another three weeks of thaw before attempting the peak again.
|2014-02-23||Route: Kit Carson South Couloir
Info: Summitted Challenger and KC with Mickeys Grenade and robco. Trench up Spanish Creek (thanks to SarahT, IMan and Dominic). Note: there are two paths: the northern path requires dropping down a steep hill through the deadfall zone, the southern path follows the summer trail more closely and is recommended. Snow was stable in South Couloir and KC Avenue. Some sections of bulletproof snow to make things spicy. The scariest section is dropping down a 20‘ section of sugar and small rock steps above a death gully - not for the faint of heart. You need to be prepared to spend hours in a no-fall zone; no chance for self arrest. Trip Report to follow later this week.
|2013-08-31||Route: North Slope
Info: Words cannot describe how crappy Challenger‘s North Slope scree slog is to descend. Aside from those 2,000 feet, both Challenger and Kit Carson Peak are solid, fun climbs.
|2013-05-26||Route: Kirk Couloir
Info: Kirk Couloir still skiing great and should have coverage for a while. The summit gets quite a bit of sun relative to the chute, but I assume it‘ll ski from the summit for a bit. I know the road construction to the TH provides some challenges for the next few months.
|2013-02-02||Route: North Slope
Info: Trail was bootpacked to the stream crossing at 11,000 feet, which proved not to be the icy mess that I was worried it might be (photo 1). Fresh trench led from there to Willow Lake and then headed up toward Mount Adams‘s west ridge. I left the trench at this point and crossed the slopes above Willow Lake. These had so little snow that they were not the avalanche hazard that they might normally be (photo 2). I climbed the standard route, which consisted of fresh soft slab of varying thickness on older, supportive hard slab. In light of the day‘s events elsewhere and the resulting "Special Advisory Statement" from the CAIC, avalanche danger may have been higher than I thought. But it made for some pretty decent snow climbing by winter standards (photo 3). The ridge to the summit was clear enough that a person could stay mostly on rock (photo 4). Snowshoes, ice axe, and crampons all mandatory.