Peak(s):  Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Date Posted:  05/18/2019
Date Climbed:   05/13/2019
Author:  mattr9
 Challenger Point's Kirk Couloir + Laps on Outward Bounds Couloir   

Summit of Challenger Point
Ski descent of "Kirk Couloir"
2 Laps up/down "Outward Bounds Couloir"
18.5 miles
7,000' vert
12 hours and 30 minutes

Been on the move for 3 days (Friday=Quandary Cristo Couloir, Saturday=2 laps on buffalo mountain, Sunday=Mt Elbert Box Creek Chutes) and had 1 more day to wrap up a solid training weekend. Had ambitions of doing a very big day by climbing OB Couloir and skiing Cole Couloir to access Crestone Peak's NW Couloir and then reverse it and possibly hit Challenger Point/Kirk Couloir on the way out. I felt good for having done ~14,000' in the last 3 days so it was go time. I arrived tot he trailhead on Sunday around 5pm and got gear dried from Elbert and got my car camping arrangements squared away. Was asleep by about 8pm and woke up on my own at 1:11am so decided to get going.

Made good time to the lake (3hrs) and continued up to the left above the cliffs. I made it into the basin to get my first views of Challenger Point. I saw a rather large slab avalanche that had slid to the lookers left and below Kirk Couloir. Seeing that there was a good amount of new snow from the recent storms I decided to put Challenger Point to the front to avoid excessive heating up of the snow. I aimed towards the Kirk Couloir but quickly pointed straight up and did a mix of steep skinning and cramponing up on the frozen bed surface thanks to some recent wet slide activity. It took awhile to get up to the ridgeline due to changing snow conditions and transitioning 3-4 times. Once on the ridge, it took a quick 15min traverse to reach the summit. The views were again incredible of the ever elusive NW Couloir on Crestone Peak (elusive for me at least).

Looking back out of the valley from above the lake and cliffs

First look at Challenger Point with my route drawn in

Kit Carson (Left) Crestone Peak (Center) and Challenger Point (Right) summits all in one picture

I will ski you one day very very soon dammit!!!! haha

After enjoying a quick break, I decided that if I was going to do this mega day, I had better get going ASAP. I clipped into my skis and made some big fast turns down towards where the slope begins to rollover into the Kirk Couloir. I was very surprised by how much snow was present in the Kirk, and was a little concerned about how much the slope was loaded. I skied down pretty conservatively and once below the steep portion, started heading skiers right so that I could traverse over across to the base of the OB without losing much elevation.

Ski Descent video of the entire day!!!!

I traversed across and ran into Patrick Gibbs' (pagibb) boot pack that he said he put in the day prior, thanks so much!!!! I quickly transitioned and started up the already packed boot pack. It was pretty quick moving, but with the sun out full force, I was basically punching through the boot pack still all the way until I reached the shade. From the shade up, the steps were nice and firm, and it took half the time to ascend the second half. I topped out and tried to mirror Patrick's tracks down from yesterday, but damn he has some beautiful turns, and I'm not that good haha Pretty great snow conditions again. I bet the snow stays pretty nice in here for a long time since it gets low wind and low sun exposure. I decided against descending the Cole and going for the NW Couloir of Crestone peak... the day was getting warm and I was worried coming back up the Cole would be an absolute mess... maybe I pussed out? Maybe I made a good decision? Oh well, another time.

Patrick Gibbs' (pagibb) bootpack, what a luxury!!!!!

Close up, can see the boot pack going up all the way to the top! HELL YES!

Looking down hoping to mirror Patrick's beautiful tracks (nope) haha

Quick look down the Cole Couloir, maybe another day.

I only skied down to the edge of the shadow so that I could re-ascend quickly on the firm boot pack and was 3/4 the way up in 15 minutes. I decided to explore a narrow and steep secondary couloir that branches off near the top to lookers left. I broke trail across the OB to the entrance and pointed straight up. I found a mix of conditions from deep soft snow to hard ice, as well as rocks sticking through in the choke. Getting closer to the top, I knew this would be a spicy descent, I was STOKED! I opted not to top out on what I assume was Columbia Point due to it being about 11pm already and having heard east facing snow releasing wet slides, it was that time of day to get going home. I kicked in a ledge and clipped in and got ready for a fun and interesting descent!

"Randall's Sphincter Couloir" and to the right, the top of the OB Couloir

Closer look at "Randlall's Sphincter".... Ya thats right, get a good look folks haha

Looking down from my kicked in ledge, hell ya.

Closer look down my sphincter

I took a few first hesitant side slips and then a few jump turns before the narrowest section. My skis were just barely short enough to fit (178cm), thank god! I decided to name this line "Randall's Sphincter" because of how tight it got hahahaha Not sure if anyone has skied it or named it, I don't expect the name to stick, but I think it is funny and fitting. Once I side stepped through the constriction, I found soft snow on the skiers left and very firm snow on the left. Really fun and aesthetic line, albeit short, until I was popped back out into the OB couloir itself. I ripped turns back down and soon was back at the lake and ready for the slog out. The snow was so warm that I could barely keep any speed on skis so it took longer than usual to get the the creek where I stashed my shoes. Once I donned shoes, another hour and a half and I reached the car, tired and ready to head home for 2 days rest before a day trip to the San Juans!

Better look at the entirety of Challenger Point with sun and my route drawn.

San Juans trip report on my big day on both El Diente and Wilson Peak coming soon!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Chris Rivera
VA hikers on your way down!
05/26/2019 19:33
Yo Iâm so stoked to have found your trip report on here! We were a group of three who were going up when you were on your way down, just wanted to say thanks for the insight regarding the deep snow after the creek, it helped us rearrange our plans to make the most of the day. Great pics and vid btw!


05/27/2019 09:19
Glad I was able to help! Hopefully your plans weren't effected too much by the deep snow!

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