Peak(s):  Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Date Posted:  07/12/2020
Date Climbed:   07/11/2020
Author:  JakeMo
 North Ridge Ascent   

We made it to the Willow Lakes trailhead at 1pm. The trailhead was packed and we had to find a make shift parking spot. The hike was blistering hot and steep. We made it to willow lake and the camping area by 4pm. It was busy in this area and I would recommend starting earlier to get a good site.

The next morning we woke up at 4a and we were hiking by 430a. The trail is obvious and well maintained. There is a sign above Willow Lake that directed us toward Upper Willow Lake. This trail was also obvious for 0.5 miles then it completely disappeared. From here we rode the topo line to the larger boulder field below the cliff bands on Kit Carson.

From here it was a make your own adventure to the outward bound couloir. There was only one other hiker on the route. We ascended to the south of the couloir and made it to the face of Kit Carson. The climbing here felt the most dangerous, as there were sections of soft and loose grass. We ascended straight up for about 45 minutes, and about ~250 feet of elevation gain.

Once the grass disappears the real fun begins. We climbed vertical and started to make our way to the ridge from the face. The climbing here is bomber and the conglomerate rock of this area is a blast. Rock fall potential is high and a helmet is highly recommended. Once we made it to the ridge line we followed what felt like an impressive arete system up past the second notch. There are a few moves along this ridge that felt like low class 5, but the holds and rock was solid so it felt safe to commit.

We past the second notch and found a carin below the final few feet of climbing. We skirted under the top of the ridge and gained the summit. We were on the summit at 0815. I was glad there was an easier descent down, as I could not imagine down climbing the ridge. I would not have committed to it otherwise.

Overall, this was the most sustained class 4 climbing I have experienced and I would highly recommend this route to an experienced climber with good route finding skills and wants to get away from the crowds on the standard route.

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

Comp to other 4's
07/13/2020 13:30
Thanks for report. Planning on doing this Sunday. Plz compare to other class 4's you've done. (I.e. N. Maroon and Pyramid seemed relatively easy to me. So, i want to know if this is markedly beyond that.) Thnx.

re: Comp to others 4's
07/13/2020 14:43
This was certainly the most sustained class 4 climbing I have done. I have previously climbed pyramid and sunshine and this was definitely more committing. The climbing is definitely more exposed and sustained than either of those 14ers, but the rock is much more solid. If you are a rock climber then you will love this route. I never felt like this climb was out of my skill set, but there were certainly some moves that felt low class 5 (IMO). It was nice to descent the standard route on Kit Carson.


07/15/2020 21:13
thanks Jake. sounds like it will be fun. plan to descend standard as well. last time took the east ridge up KC. Need a bit more climbing fun this go of it (best part of East Ridge was downclimb from Columbia)

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