Peak(s):  Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Adams A, Mt  -  13,931 feet
Date Posted:  06/12/2020
Date Climbed:   05/23/2020
Author:  Will_E
 Kit Carson and Adams   

Kit Carson and Adam's Peak

May 23-24, 2020

The Sangre's were the place to be in late spring of 2020, they were drying out faster than the other ranges in Colorado. Left work on Friday, May 22 and made my way to the town of Crestone and set up camp just a short distance from the trailhead.

Scored a nice level spot within walking distance to the bathroom, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was BYOTP (bring your own TeePee).

Woke up and hit the trail about 7:30 am, was in no major rush to get started. The trail to Willow Lake has some nice views, some good steepness, and on this day, it was totally dry.

Bridge crossing.

One of my favorite shots from the weekend.

Trail levels out about a mile before the lake.

Just before reaching the lake.

Willow Lake. In my now 3 times at this lake, this is first time I had to walk around it. Other 2 times the lake was frozen and I went straight across.

First view of Kit Carson is after the lake.

Caption Here

The route was mostly dry until nearing Outward Bound Couloir, and there was some fun climbing to avoid some of the snow fields.



Turned right just before the OB Couloir, had one steep snowfield to cross. I had micro spikes and axe with me, didn't use the spikes but I did have the axe at the ready, the snow here was relatively firm.

Could almost stay dry here.

The only snowfield I crossed worthy of unstrapping my axe.

Continuing to make my way, Willow Lake slowly absconds from view.

Outward Bound just out of view to the left, I'm working my way around the snow trying to head west (right).


There's not really a formal route up Kit Carson's north ridge, you just sort of find it after the grassy sections to the right of OB Couloir.

Now I reach the start of the North Ridge. Its spicy good fun.

Up, up, and more up. This is the most sustained stretch of class 4 I've done. Not the time to lose focus.

Often times its difficult to capture steepness and angle in a photo, but this feels about right.

Nearing the top.

I showed this to a non-climber friend, his response. "Looks like one simple mistake and you wouldn't be alive". My sarcastic response, "A complex mistake would also yield similar consequence..."

At the top of the north ridge, I see my first cairn of the day.

I assume I was supposed to turn right here.

There were a few snow filled gullies between the right turn and summit, the snow was pretty much ice, so I had to down climb a bit to where the gullies narrowed enough to jump across.

Basic line of the north ridge (photo is zoomed in from Adam's). Shows the steepness pretty accurately.

I'm calling this a "cornice parachute". Near the top.

Reached the top in 5 hours, 6 minutes. Would have been nice to beat 5 hours. Will give me something to shoot for next time.

Looking south.

Views from Kit Carson are some of the best around. The Crestones, Humboldt, Sand Dunes, and the Blanca group can all be seen on a clear day.

Looking north.

Zoom shot of the Crestones.

Return trip was thankfully uneventful. Some climbers descend to the Avenue then head across to bag Challenger Point from here. I knew the Avenue was still currently loaded with snow from a report the previous week. Its passable with snow, as had been done the previous week, but it sketches me out a bit. In April 2019 I summitted Challenger, planned to also summit Kit Carson, but when I reached the Avenue it was stiff as ice, and I had just micro spikes with me. I went across the first part (not wise), was hella sketchy, so I turned back. A week later another climber fell here (RIP Tyler). Its probably unfounded, but the Avenue with snow just sketches me out.

At any rate, I down climbed the north ridge, no real issues, just took a lot of time and some very careful route selection. The rest of the hike also went off without a hitch.

The next day I made my way back to Willow lake to climb Mt. Adams. Its a class 3 rated route, I was looking forward to having an easier day, especially since I had a 3.5 hour drive to get home after my hike.

From Willow Lake I took a left turn just after the tree section, and climbed straight up. The best views of Willow Lake are from here.

Willow Lake, with Kit Carson in the distance.

There's a decent trail through the willows after reaching the top of the first slope, but still requires some bushwhacking.

The route at a glance.

Aim for the notch.

View from the notch.

The route looked pretty dry, but there were a few hidden snowfields to cross.

Great views of KC and Challenger as I ascend Adams.


This really puts the KC north ridge route's steepness and longevity into perspective.

A few steep sections leading up Adam's ridge.



The next notch would prove trickier.

I wasn't expecting anything to be a challenge on Adam's, I mean, its class 3, right? The area around the notch near summit would be tougher than it should have been due to snow around this area.

The crux. On ascent it wasn't bad, I just sort of jumped 5'-7' into the snow. On my return it was difficult to climb up. I looked for a way around this section, but would have needed to put on my spikes and use my axe to circumnavigate this area.

Notch is about the middle of the red line.

After the challenging notch situation, the remaining route to summit was easy. It started snowing just before I reached the summit. I thought I had a pair of gloves in my bag, apparently not.

Summit of Adams. Cold, windy, snowy, and views were not perfectly clear.

Summit temp.

Return was uneventful, other than the aforementioned notch.

Apple stats for KC north ridge.

Garmin stats for KC

KC GPS track

Apple stats for Adams

Garmin stats for Adams

Adams GPS track

Thanks for reading.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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