Peak(s):  Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Post Date:  04/06/2012
Date Climbed:   04/01/2012
Posted By:  Carl
Additional Members:   XC Snowboarder, rmiller, Gueza

 Skiing Kit Carson & Challenger   

Kit Carson Peak via Outward Bound Couloir, ski descent of Cole's Couloir
Challenger Point via the Avenue, ski descent of Kirk's Couloir
March 31st & April 1st
Approx 15 miles
Approx. 6,500 vert
with Marc, Rob, Eric, and Adam

After stopping for beers (for those in the group 21+) at the Fritz in Salida we got to the Willow Creek trailhead around 4pm and were starting up the sandy trail by 4:30pm.
Photo by Rob

Took about 2 hours to hike the 2,000 vertical feet to where the snow began.

Nearing Willow Lake as the sun neared the horizon. Nice to cross paths with Bill and Caroline before dark.

Sat around the small fire and enjoyed the prosciutto and pear sandwich from the Fritz.

Laid in my bivy bag and couldn't sleep so I pulled out the camera. Doesn't begin to do justice to how amazing the sky looked.

The benefit of coming in the afternoon prior meant we didn't feel the need to get started until around 6am. Crossed Willow Lake around twilight.

Mark pointing to the Kirk Couloir that we skied later that afternoon.

Skinned around Kit Carson to find the Outward Bound couloir in good condition.

Marc making progress in the OB.

The pitch was fairly mellow until it steepened for the finish and got near vertical for the last few feet. Would have made for a fun ski with an exciting entrance.

Made the summit a little after 10am. Rob, Marc, and Me.

Sand dunes and the Little Bear / Blanca group.

Adam relaxing on top of Kit Carson, with what little snow remains from another below average winter in the Sangres.

Eric heading towards Cole's Couloir.

Marc on his 49th 14er snowboard descent.

Climbed up the Avenue and headed towards Challenger.

Working my way across.
Photo by Rob

A nice wind feature two/thirds of the way across the Avenue allowed us the opportunity to take a break with our packs still on and skis hanging off the backside.

Neared the top of Challenger around noon.

Me, Eric, Marc, and Rob on Challenger Point.

Rob on the descent.

Marc with Kit and the Crestones in the backdrop.

Eric is up next.

Conditions in the Kirk were better than expected. Rob headed in...

Followed by Marc.

The snow in the apron was hard and fast. Cautious skiing ensued to Willow Lake.

Rob and Eric bravely navigated this bottomless crevasses as we made our way around the lake.

Marc and Adam decided to take the high road. To avoid the crevasse danger perhaps? You can see the yellow snowboard popping through the willows above and lookers right of the waterfall.

Put skins back on for the brief descent to camp. After enjoying a tall Red Bull Rob and I were ready to break trail downhill through the rotten snowpack.

Exchanged the ski boots for trail shoes just below 11,000ft. An hour and a half later we were back at the car. One more left.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Beautiful     04/06/2012 12:13
Love the video. Nicely done guys.

Kevin Baker

Excellent     04/06/2012 12:58
Very nice vid, Carl! So how was the ski of Cole's? I guess you were probably in it for just a bit. You probably saw our tracks. Nice job!


Nicely done!     04/06/2012 13:26
And great video! Way to get after it in this scratchy season. Carl, what's your finisher going to be?


The Fritz     04/06/2012 13:59
prosciutto and pear sandwich rocks. love that place.

Nice report. Maybe I should get off the couch....


Good Job Fellas!     04/06/2012 14:59
Way to make em go in thin conditions, and nice vid Carl!


Nice Work Guys     04/06/2012 14:46
Hope for some more spring snow Carl!


Schweet!     04/06/2012 15:28
Cool video Carl. Good work getting it done dudes!!


Straightline     04/06/2012 16:37
Love the straightline into the crevasse at the end of the video. Great stuff all around. Looks like spirits were pretty high on this one -- you guys sure make a grunt look like a good time. Here's to the next one . . .

. . . or eight (sorry Marc).


Strong team!!     04/06/2012 16:53
Good job guys. Where did you ditch Adam after summiting KC?? I hope you didn't make him ski into OB alone - that entrance looked spicey!


Great job guys!     04/06/2012 17:55
OB looks fun! Glad you didn't have the forecasted winds either. And, nice to see you again for the umpth-millionth time!


Loved it!     04/06/2012 19:18
Man, it seems like I know every corner of that approach to Willow Lake. Awesome report and video! Congrats to all!


Well Played!     04/06/2012 19:19
Those mountains look AMAZINGLY aesthetic. Nice turns, man!


Looks miserable     04/07/2012 00:12
Shame I missed it.


Your the man carl!!!!     04/07/2012 00:30
Great video. Praying for a lot of snow down south for you. What lens do you have in your I/O's?


Great Runs!     04/07/2012 16:02
Way to make use of little snow, what an exciting video as well. Thanks for writing this report I liked it alot. Did you happen to see snow conditions on Humboldt or Obstruction Peaks?


Great job guys!     04/07/2012 16:08
It's been fun to watch you progress towards this goal Carl, praying that the Sangres get slammed again for you!


Thanks for the comments...     04/08/2012 17:05
The lenses in those Smith goggles that I use for sunny days are the darkest ones available, Gold Sol-X Mirror, which is marketed as letting through 7% of light. Kevin, we thought we might see your group up there again going for another grid spot for Ken. Tough to see your tracks but we heard from Caroline and Bill you were in the area. Skiing more of the Cole would have been fun. Bill, unfortunately Adam didn't make the Challenger group photo because he was relaxing at the saddle. Entrance to OB would have been spicy, but doable. The ridge of Humbolt we were looking at was dry, but I can't say what kind of posthole nightmare awaits in the trees. Long range forecast is calling for storms in the Sangres! We'll see.


Sweet     04/09/2012 14:20
Great trip, gents. Carl, congrats on your pre-finisher.

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