Peak(s):  Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Date Posted:  09/22/2019
Date Climbed:   09/22/2019
Author:  SpringsDuke
Additional Members:   davekfz6
 #49 and #50 Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak   

#49 and #50 Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak

Deciding on the plan for the weekend I saw a post on this websites forum from member davekfz6 asking to see who would climb the two peaks on Sunday. I was interested as hiking alone in the dark gets annoying and also noticed davekfz6 would become a 14er finisher once he completed the hike so I was in! Met in the town of Creston only 15 minutes or so from the trailhead and drove a Jeep up. Road seems pretty much 4wd. Early morning 415am start.

New sign

Hiking up to Willow Lake above treeline.

First sight of both peaks. They appear quick and also appear close but do take time to summit both and get back from here.

Looking down at Willow Lake

Starting to gain elevation going up to Challenger first. This part of the hike takes the longest and is the most strenuous. It is much longer than it appears and takes over an hour to hike up.

New trail up the steep slope appears to be going in. Only a small portion appears to be done as of now to me. More switchbacks added to more distance than the old route in my opinion.

Looking down the steep slope

Gaining Challengers summit ridge with both peaks in view

Challenger Summit


Summit plaque. Named after the space shuttle that failed a few months before my birth.

Sand Dunes from summit.

Summit views

On to Kit Carson via the avenue seen in this Challenger summit photo

Getting on the avenue. Its short and even the next benchmark the prow can already be seen in top right.

From the prow going downward on the avenue

Getting close to turning left to exit the avenue and climb Kit Carson Peak

Yes it is a good idea to mark the large cairn in the center of the gully when you exit the avenue. But only because on the way down you will see cairns that go lower. Why are those cairns there I have no idea but we did see cairns below the large cairn that I placed my hiking poles on the mark our avenue exit.

Climbing up Kit Carson Peak the best part of the hike!

Angle left towards summit.

Congrats davekfz6 on a six year journey only a tiny fraction of society completes it was a blast to join you!

Summit views


Took 45 minutes to summit Kit Carson from Challenger and 5 and a half hours to summit both peaks.


Challenger and its entire ridge you have to cross twice today

Looking down from Kit Carson summit you can see the steep slope up Challenger and the Willlow Lake waterfall.

Going back down Kit Carson to the avenue and back to Challenger to summit that peak once again.

Back on the avenue

Going back up the avenue looking up a the prow

Re summiting Challenger appears to be the best way to cross its long ridge and get back down the steep slope trail.

Looking back at Kit Carson

Looking back at both peaks

Waterfall at Willow Lakes

Willow Lake is very beautiful

Really cool to summit with so many this year who are finishing. When I climbed Culebra in the winter I thought I was setting myself up to finish this year as well. Alas the late start to the season from heavy snow and myself attending 4 wedding celebrations this year will make 2020 the year I most likely finish. Congrats to Dave today and the rest who finished in 2019!


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

Congrats Dave!
09/24/2019 06:05
Great job on the finish. It was fun to join you for the Wilson group last year. Brad

09/26/2019 20:04
Looks fun. Could you tell if Willow lake has fish in it?

Could Not Tell
09/26/2019 21:38
The lake is very deep but could not see fish or anyone fishing.

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