| These peaks really make you feel up there
L-R = Humboldt, Crestone Needle, Crestone Pk, Columbia Pt, Kit Carson, Challenger Pt.
Peaks - Columbia Pt via OB Couloir, traverse to Kit Carson via SE slopes. Mt.Adams via West Ridge
Glen and I headed down to the Sangres for a few Centenniels as well as an interesting climb up the other side of Kit Carson. Challenger was originally on the agenda, but with fast moving in clouds and sheer loss of interest, we decided against it at the last second.
We met up in Wash Park, headed to Sunflower Market for provisions for the trip (a backpacker's paradise I may add), got some bagel's at Moe's and made our way for the San Luis Valley. We arrived into the town of Crestone with some Tool "Lateralus" playing for some motivation up to Willow Lake. Hit the trail around 2:45pm, Glen with his minimailist Osprey Variant 37L pack, myself taking the heavy loader, filling up my Palisade 80L with a smaller summit pack for the 2 night stay.
Glen trying to take this sign seriously
you've been warned
We arrived at the lake around 6pm, set up camp on a perch above the lake on its northern shores, right off the trail, a decent vantage point since we'd be doing Kat and Kit one day and Adams the next.
The weather was a tad mixed this evening, but we were able to get a few solid sunset shots from near our campsite.
Right from around our camp
reflection off Willow Lake
After some brown rice, chili mix, refried instant beans, cheese and tabasco, we hit the sack with hopes of an early start and clear sky.
Day 2 - Columbia Pt via Outward Bound Couloir, traverse to Kit Carson via SE Slopes
Alarm went off around 3am, hit the trail around 4:15. Around the top of the waterfall running into Willow Lake, we broke off from the now snow covered trail and made out way east towards the North Ridge of Kit Carson and the OB Couloir hiding around the ridge.
Sun hitting our objective for the day. Columbia on the left, OB Couloir the obvious line up the middle and Kit to the right
OB Couloir in the morning
Looking North towards Adams
Adams across the valley
About halfway up the couloir, the sun came out and I realized I forgot my sunglasses in the tent. Not the end of the world, but I've herd my fair share of horror stories of what bright snow can do to your eyes after enough exposure. I tried to cope at first, but it quickly became apparent they'd be hurting later on. Glen, luckily, had an extra pair of lenses in his case, so with a little string and duct tape, he was able to jerry-rigg something that looked like this.....
my jerry rigged sunglasses for the day
Unorthodox, but they did the trick. As we approached the top of the couloir, we decided to take the left branch towards Columbia Pt for a more direct line and we'd also end up at a higher elevation and closer to the summit.
Glen climbing towards the junction, the obvious left branch deeply inset.
It was relatively short, but it began to get pretty narrow as we got further and further up.
Glen nearing the top
At the top, looking back down the steep, narrow chute
looking down the narrow, steep couloir
Then it got really steep
This was right below the ridge leading to the summit. A rope would've definately been nice here for our mental well being. The climbing isn't incredibly complicated or difficult, but the snow wasn't all that deep at times and there was a decent amount of large cliffs below us, a fall here would not end well. Needless to say, we took extra care, especially on the downclimb.
We topped out on the not so obvious true summit of Columbia Pt around 8:00am, it was still covered with snow and we could not locate the plaque. It was an airy summit, reminded me of Pyramid, except smaller. We sat there for a good long while, trying to figure out if we were actually on the summit, or if a large hump that appeared to be a tad higher to the east, was what we were really looking for. Too mentally tired to care, we took some shots and headed towards a second objective, Kit Carson.
Looking over at Kit from the summit of Columbia (our route went up the second chute from the right, gained the ridge and ridge ran to the summit), still a decent amount of snow. It looks like a nice mtn to ski, but I wasn't to thrilled about lugging everything up to the lake.
Kit Carson from Columbia Pt
Glen striking a contemplating life pose with the Northern Sangres in the background
Glen w/ the Northern Sangres
And the prominent Needle with what we thought might've been the actual summit of Columbia (fortunately, we were on the right summit)
We downclimbed the exact route we came up, making it back to the saddle of the OB Couloir and being able to breathe a little easier being on safer ground.
A look back at our route up Columbia from high up on Kit's SE Slopes. If you look closely, you'll see some faint tracks heading up the right side of the slope, this was certainly a steep, airy region.
our route and tracks on Columbia Pt.
We gained the sharp ridge and we on the summit of Kit Carson not later than 9:30am and clouds began to quickly roll in.
Glen along the ridge to the summit
A look at our route along the spine of the ridge with clouds rolling in
We both agreed that Columbia and Kit were enough excitement forone day. Having read previous reports of the snow filled avenue, a traverse to Challenger didn't sound too appealing. We eventually just headed back to the OB and glissaded from there. Glen, having dropped his glove and helplessly watch it tumble down the chute, was able to retrieve it on the way back. This was a good thing, since the next morning was cold and windy as hell.
Glen glissading down the OB Couloir
glissading the OB
The soft snow made for some of the best glissading snow i've ever experienced. The slope angle in the OB is not incredibly steep either, so we were able to remain in control the entire way down, with a very numb bum to boot.
We reached camp around noon and immediately took a long nap. After some mac and cheese and water filtering, I think we actually hit the sack around 4:30pm and neither of us awoke till the alarm at 2:15am.
Day 3 - Mt.Adam via West Ridge w/ some hopeful sunrise shots of the area
We agreed to wake up ass early to get some sunrise shots from the summit of Adams. Glen recently purchased a G-10 Canon with around 15 megapixels and a plethera of capabilities so he wanted to test it out with the best possible lighting.
We basically did the entire climb in the pitch black. Here's Glen heading up the West Ridge with Adams summit block high above....
hiking in the dark
From reading Roach's description, it sounded like an easy class 2 walk up. But the summit block would prove to be an ineresting, sporty climb ith some serious steep drop offs on the left side and a snow covered slope on the right. We reached the summit around 6am with the sun finally popping through the clouds...
sunrise over the Wet Mtn Valley
It wasn't the morning we hoped for in terms of ideal lighting, but it made for some interesting shots nonetheless. Being so windy, we did not linger for too long and made the downclimb, actually finding the standard, cairned route on the way down.
Glen downclimbing Adams
Looking East through a notch
And our final look at a weekends work
We packed up camp quickly and made our way back to the car. The skies cleared and it was a pleasant trek back to the TH with two-22oz beers waiting for us. We made it back to the car around 11am, cooled the beers in the stream, listened to some more Tool and made our way for what we thought was a Thai Restaurant in Poncha Springs, but ended up being abandoned, despite a big "open" sign still up. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to hit up K's in BV, no loss there.
A parting shot of the weekend
Solid weekend in the Sangres, decent weather and a few more Centenniels done with.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):