Peak(s):  Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Date Posted:  09/03/2019
Date Climbed:   08/24/2019
Author:  wildsidesky
 Ad Astra   

Ad Astra - Challenger Point

Standard route - North Slopes

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Here are our chronicles describing an ascent of Challenger Point. For those who have read my trip reports in the past, you may recall I have summited Challenger Point before (a harrowing climb complete with terrible decisions and near-hypothermia). On that climb, four years ago, I was turned around prior to the jaunt over to Kit Carson at the summit of Challenger by weather. Yes, we had wanted and planned on a summit bid of Kit Carson for this second go-around, but no such luck once again. We made some less serious mistakes this time around, and despite not tagging Kit Carson for a SECOND time, it was still some beautiful and quality time in the Sangres.

To read the full report, complete with many more photos than previewed below, click here: TRIP REPORT: AD ASTRA

Before my usual photography preview, I wanted to note a few things that my adventure companion/the writer of the blog decided not to include on the main blog (or at least, elaborate on a few things). For starters: WOW!!! The trail that goes halfway up the north slopes of Challenger that was not there 4 years ago is INCREDIBLE! Thank you to the hard work from the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (and thanks to pfiore1 for the info - I even saw their flag and campsite near Willow Lake and just hadn't put 2 and 2 together :D ). Secondly, Tyler mentions that I went for Kit Carson and turned around - I wanted to detail here what happened after we separated.

After Tyler expressed his desire not to go for Kit Carson along with me, we determined he would be fine resting on Challenger's summit as I chased after my second summit for the day. He'd watch the avenue for my return, and we'd meet at the notch, affording me the luxury of not climbing to the tippy-top of Challenger again. I descended Challenger and looked back from the nadir of the saddle. I could see my friend at the summit, and he was but a speck in what was clearly a much longer descent than I had pictured.

I started up the avenue, and as everyone describes, it was WAY easier than pictures will ever make it appear. However, after already having ascended over 5000' of elevation throughout the day, I could tell even just the small ascent in the avenue to the prow was going to hurt. Oh well! I thought, there is no way I am coming back here for a third go. I reached the prow and saw the long descent it would take to find the gully that would lead to the summit ridge. I was getting worried - I knew Tyler was fine waiting, but I didn't want to leave him at the summit of Challenger for too long and in my exhaustion, I was moving like a snail. I descended the avenue and reached the entrance of the gully.

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Looking up at the remaining ~500 feet, I muttered profanity. It had taken me an hour alone to descend Challenger and make my way to the gully's entrance. At my pace, I could tell it would take at least another 2 hours to regroup with my friend at the notch on Challenger. I touched the mountain, and breathed. Don't let your drive sacrifice what would have been a great trip by doing this, I thought. Murmuring more profanity, now because I had subjected myself to an unnecessary 500-700' of elevation re-gain, I turned around.

This was an excellent decision, but I didn't know it yet. An hour or two later, about halfway down the slopes of Challenger, I frantically started looking through my pack for my headlamp. Sunset was still an hour out, but we hadn't even made it back down to the lake, and I had a fleeting suspicion I had left my light-source in the car. I had. And so had Tyler. Our descent turned from a relaxing stroll to a death march/jog down the Willow Creek trail. Probably as a courtesy to me, Tyler doesn't really highlight how frantic and scared I was without light and so far from the car in the main blog entry.

Anyhow, that is the missing page from our story, and now - a photography preview!~

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Full write-up: Ad Astra

thanks for taking a look! :)




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
pfiore1

RMFI
09/03/2019 20:33
The Rocky Mountain Field Institute based out of Colorado Springs are the ones constructing the new trail. They have been for the last few years and will hopefully finish by next year or the year after. Colorado Fourteeners Initiative does not work on any southern peaks.



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