Kit Carson Peak  
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2016-07-03  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2016-07-05, By: kkarutis
Info: Hiked from the willow trailhead on 7/3, starting at 3:45 a.m. Made it to the lake and headed up Challenger in about two hours. The trail was wet but clear, bugs weren't quite out yet. Got off trail on Challenger due to massive amounts of random herd paths and some snow that obscured the trail. Ended up doing a longish traverse across the summit ridge, which was more annoying than anything else - conditions were fine, nothing harder than class 2. Avoidance of all snow is possible. The trail from Challenger to Kit Carson was 99 percent clear save for two spots of lingering, rotten snow on the Avenues. It was a bit unnerving to kick step into such rotten snow but made it across safely in trail runners, no need for even microspikes. The final ascent up Kit was clear and easy. Made it to the summit at 10 a.m. Descended and went back across Challenger's summit, then down the messy and unclear herd paths back to the lake/waterfall. Bugs were out in FULL force - absolutely brutal, vicious swarms of them. They all but ignored the industrial strength bug spray we doused ourselves with. Back to the car by 3:40 p.m. - 12 hours total time, including short stops on each summit. 
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2016-06-27  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2016-06-28, By: jsykes
Info: Made it up Challenger Point yesterday (be warned: the trail gets really muddy and slippery after Willow Lake), but not to the summit of Kit Carson. The Avenue still had snow and ice on it (see picture). If the snow were softer and more packy in this spot I could have made it, but it was frozen solid around 10 a.m. yesterday morning and the drop-off is 800-1,000 feet. Side notes about this hike: * The Rocky Mountain Field Institute is working on building a new trail from Willow Lake to the summit of Challenger Point because the current one is steep and falling apart. I'll come back in a couple years once the new trail is built. * The mosquitos below treeline were terrible. Bring lots of bug spray! 
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2016-05-25  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2016-05-27, By: lodgling
Info: Folks inevitably start asking about Kit Carson avenue around this time of year. Here's a photo from Wednesday, 5/25. 
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2016-05-22  Route: Spanish Creek - Cole's Couloir
Posted On: 2016-05-25, By: youngk2844
Info: Get permission from the Crestone Mountain Zen Center before hiking this route. Trail dry through blow-down area up to 11,200'. After that snowshoes required. With a good freeze you may get by without. A couple signs of small wet slides on the South Slopes. Cole's Couloir looked to be in good shape. 
2016-05-14  Route: Outward Bound Couloir
Posted On: 2016-05-15, By: lodgling
Info: Summit ski is in for a bit longer. 
2016-01-22  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2016-01-26, By: thatnissanguy
Info: The standard route is out of condition. Read my report on Challenger for details. 
2015-10-17  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-10-18, By: awpalmer27
Info: Climbed Kit Carson on a warm October Saturday. Started at Willow Creek trailhead at 4:00 am. Summited Kit Carson by 11:30 am. Made it back to the car by 5:00 pm. Route tip: You can save some time and energy on the descent by avoiding summited Challenger again. From the Challenger- Kit Carson saddle, traverse across the east face of Challenger. From afar the east slope looks like it might be horrible scree fest. In reality, the rocks are pretty large and don‘t budge when you rock hop across them. This short cut saves you ~400 ft elevation gain and maybe 20 min. 
2015-10-11  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-10-12, By: pcrotty41
Info: Climbed both Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak this Sunday. Weather was excellent, warmer than usual for October but still a bit windy higher up. There is quite a bit of snow on the upper reaches of Challenger point. The most difficult part of the climb was ascending up Challenger point with snow and some ice making this mostly I would say class 3 climbing and not class 2+. Yak Traks or ice spikes may help here, there are a couple of sections on both the uphill and downhill that are downright nasty. Getting up Challenger Point really is a complete s--t show and be ready for loose rock with snow and ice thrown in. KC avenue is free of snow and ice, I wore a helmet from the start of the steeper stuff on CP to mostly the top of KC peak just to be sure but many people climb without helmets and the rock looks fairly solid above most of KC but is more loose on CP. All in all a great climb and thankfully met up and climbed with Army Ranger Will after my buddy gassed out midway up CP. There is exposure on this route and really most of the difficulty was with CP and the snow and ice. Missed connection on the way up to Willow Lake on Saturday, cute blonde who climbed CP that day was in party of three. Spoke with you briefly (was with my buddy) and wanted to get your number to see if you want to climb/hike other 14‘ers, hit me back if interested. 
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2015-10-03  Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 2015-10-10, By: Sunshineof1985
Info: Climbing Kit Carson Peak was my 53rd Summit this summer. My goal was to climb them all, AND I DID! You can read more about this hike and others at I was also recently on Channel 9 News and you can watch my story at Kit Carson Route: East Ridge Challenger Route: Challenger to Kit Carson in reverse Distance from Trailhead to Camp: 3.4 mi. Distance from Camp to Both Summits and Back to Camp: Roughly 8.2 miles (GPS died for a short time) Elevation Gain from Camp: 4,300 ft. (I think this is wrong because I‘m not sure if they add the loss and gain) Time started: 8:25am End time: 6:30pm Time to Summit Kit Carson: 4 hours and 5 minutes Time to Descent (Back to Camp) from Challenger: 4 hours GEAR (to bring): Bear spray, GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, warm hat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (100 oz or more), snacks. Road Condition: With a little guts, my sedan was able to make it all the way to the upper trailhead- barely. It‘s very bumpy and plenty of opportunities to bottom out unless you know what you‘re doing and have plenty of experience. Trail Condition: Walk up the road from the upper trailhead 2.65 miles until you see the sign wooden sign on the right for the Humboldt standard route. I camped at 3.4 miles in and that‘s the start of many more campsites to come. There are a couple wet areas, but nothing to sweat. Walk past the South Colony Lake, and when you reach the Upper Colony Lake look for a trail leading to the right and up the mountain side. You‘ll come to a saddle and turn LEFT. Climb over the BACKSIDE of Point 13,290. It‘s easier and will block you from the wind. Once at Bear‘s Playground, look for the cairns as they will lead you beautifully across the meadow (you‘ll never have to actually summit Obstruction Peak). There is a path that will come and go up Kitty Kat Carson, but just climb to the top of that one and you‘ll barely notice climbing along the ledges of Columbia that you even climbed another named peak because it‘s such a short distance. The pictures from make the next section look very intimidating, but the ridge to Kit Carson isn‘t bad and with care, you can safely make it down the gully without too much trouble (mostly solid rock). As confusing as it sounds in the directions, once you‘re there, it‘s fairly straightforward. I only took the directions out once to check out how they recommended climbing up the last stretch of Kit Carson (lots of loose rock). ONCE YOU‘RE READY TO MOVE ONTO CHALLENGER: Backtrack down the same way you came up Kit Carson only head to the right instead of the left (to go back the way you came). You‘ll see a purplish, brownish, fairly wide trail to follow around Kit Carson. In a short time you will see Challenger and it‘s straightforward from there to reach the summit of Challenger Point. 
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2015-09-29  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-09-30, By: hberry
Info: The route is completely devoid of snow, same as Challenger. I would suggest going up the first gully from the avenue (shown with a dashed line on the route description). This gully has super solid class III rock instead of the lose class II + crap you see in the second gully. It is also much easier to spot the Avenue when you are descending. 
2015-09-19  Route: South Colony Lakes
Posted On: 2015-09-19, By: WillRobnett
Info: Kit Carson/Challenger and 13ers Columbia Point/Obstruction Peak from South Colony Lakes today. Route finding was straight forward. Long with lots of class 3. A little snow in couloirs between Kit Carson and Columbia Pt, near O.B. Couloir. Definitely snow free on the standard route and route we took from SCL. Some fall colors. 
2015-09-13  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-09-17, By: shizupple
Info: Be very careful in ascending KC - it can be very easy to lose the trail to get back to Challenger by overshooting the avenue and dropping too low. See full details here: 
2015-09-13  Route: Outward Bound Couloir
Posted On: 2015-09-17, By: shizupple
Info: There is still quite a bit of snow in the couloir. DO NOT try to descend down this route. Please see entire details here: 
2015-09-06  Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2015-09-07, By: aliciaf
Info: On Saturday evening and overnight there was intermittent rain. However the early morning was windy and dry. Thinking this would dry off the ridge we decided to go for the North Ridge still. I think this would have held true, but the low, wet cloud hovering on the North Ridge caused the moss/grass, rock and our boots to have a constant thin layer of moisture on them. Climbing up that ridge with slippery rock was not fun at all. Very scary. In these conditions, I found this route to be much more difficult and scary than the Bells Traverse last weekend (in good conditions). 
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2015-08-08  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-08-09, By: sheller
Info: The avenue is clear. No traction is needed. 
2015-07-28  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-07-29, By: Hobbes301
Info: Pictures of the snow remaining on The Avenue are attached. I did not regret bringing microspikes. 
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2015-07-25  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-07-28, By: EZsummits
Info: The snow crossing on the avenue was maybe 20-25 feet across. No traction or axe needed, I just used trekking poles but they weren‘t necessary. I uploaded a couple photos - Go get it! 
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2015-07-25  Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2015-07-25, By: Fishscale
Info: North ridge is an awesome route if you want to try something different above Willow Lake. The snow on the Ave is a non-issue at this point - I carried an ice axe and crampons all the way up there, since I had to use the Avenue to get down, but I walked right through without even considering pulling them out. The mosquitoes are horrible at the trailhead and down low, but not nearly as bad as I expected once you get to the lake and above. 
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2015-07-19  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-07-20, By: asnellstrom
Info: Did Kit Carson and Challenger in the fog on Sunday. Three of us went, we used crampons on the 100 yard snow field on the avenue but was not necessary if you are confident with your footing. Used poles to stabilize us to cross over the snow. 
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2015-07-18  Route: From Challenger Point
Posted On: 2015-07-18, By: blantow
Info: Summitted Kit Carson via Challenger roundtrip from the parking lot this morning. Makes for a very long day. On the way up Challenger there is a single snow field that must be crossed, its 6 or 7 steps. We watched a group turn around because they didn‘t have axes at about 6:30am. The snow was hard freeze and very difficult to kick steps in, they went further up and out along the ridge instead of crossing. On the avenue to Kit Carson there is a small snowfield covering the avenue completely in two spots. We did not use crampons or spikes but did use axes. Early in the day the snow was hard frozen and kicking steps was challenging, coming back later the snow was a breeze. I wouldn‘t try this without an axe and if you are very early in the morning I would want at least spikes too (depends on freeze from night before), we crossed around 9am and snow was still firm, we passed someone who said it was very sketchy earlier.. Update: Added some pictures, we crossed to KC at 0836 (1st photo) and back at 1050 (2nd and 3rd photos), on the way across the snow was frozen solid and there were not good steps kicked in, which made it sketchy. On the way back we kicked in large steps and the crossing was simple without issues. I imagine now with steps its much easier, the snow is super cruddy and will be gone within 2 weeks. 
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