Peak(s):  Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Date Posted:  04/23/2008
Date Climbed:   04/19/2008
Author:  Jcwhite
 Well we skied em both...   

Peak: Kit Carson
Challenger Pt.
Date: 4/19/08
Routes: Climbed Outward Bound Couloir to Kit Carson
Skied Cole's Couloir
Climbed Couloir/Face to the avenue
Traversed Avenue to Challenger.
Climbed Challenger
Skied Kirk Couloir
6500 vert
Crew: Doumall, Jcwhite, Homi, Killingcokes

As with any Sangre ascent this time of year, you will be dealing with a high snowline. This sucks when you are a skier. It basically means that you have two choices. One, you can walk in ski boots up the trail for about 2500 vertical, or two, you can put skis, and boots on your pack and lug what feels like an overnight load up the hill. We opted for wearing trailshoes and putting everything on our back, and never regretted that decision.

We started our day around 1:55 AM from the willow creek trailhead at an elevation of 9070 ft. Doumall and I led the death march up the trail to where it goes over a crest and drops a hundred feet or so. We waited for the others at this point, and Killingcokes told us he was feeling pretty sick today, and opted to turn around and head back to Dtown.

So our group down to three, continued up the trail to somewhere between 10,500 and 11,000 where it was finally time to switch modes of transportation. We ditched our shoes behind a tree, and put the ski boots on and the skins.

We skinned up and around the headwall on its right side and dropped slightly into the forest and followed the flow of the creek bed for the most part to get to the lake. We skinned along the left side of the lake and climbed a low angle snowslope to lookers right of the magnificent water falls in the area. Doumall opted to skin the whole thing, I opted to just kick steps up it quickly. And after a while we were wondering "where is Homi?" Well long story short, he had stopped to put his crampons on. He got to the top of the slope where we were waiting and told us that we should go ahead and he would climb the O.B. couloir and then meet us on the other side.

Well alright our group is down to 2.

Joe and I took off skinning up the valley and made it to the base of the couloirs in decent time. Joe opted to try and skin across the base of it to the sun on the other side, but after watching him, I decided that it didn't look like fun. I put the skis on the pack and switched to crampons.

This was the start of one foot in front of the other and on up the chute. The sun was coming out, and it was hot. I couldn't wait to be in the shade of the couloir. We continued up, and both of us kept thinking that this chute wasn't quite as steep as it looks in pictures. We traded off leading, but I think Joe probably led over half of it, and we topped out to a nice breath of wind on the saddle.

Almost there:

Looking back down the couloir:

I got my axe out at this point (didn't feel a need for it in the soft snow below) and Joe led the traverse across and the final 500 ft up the summit ridge to the summit.

A look at whats ahead:

More of Joe:

Joe is almost there:

We reached the summit just after 9:30 AM and decided to hang out for about ˝ hour to eat and reenergize a little bit.
Some scenics:

Around 10 AM the boards were out, boots buckled, and it was time to ski.

Joe off the top:

Me off the top:

We skied the upper face down towards Cole's couloirs. The top 400 feet of skiing was a mix between sastrugi and water-glazed-don't fall-scary- snow. Once into the couloirs the snow turned to more of a broken crust over corn feeling. Not the best snow conditions, but hey…we're at 14k. We skied down 1000 feet and decided that was enough considering that we were going to have to climb back up this rotten snow.



We traded planks for spikes and headed back up the couly.

We climbed maybe 50 feet before we realized how much work this would be and instead switched over the more rocky face to climbers left.

As we were headed up, Homi had topped out on the OB couloir and was ready to ski. He skied down a few hundred feet to where we were and made the change as well.

Joe and I made a deal, that if he lead the boot pack out and up to the start of the avenue, I would take it from there. Joe did a hell of a job and got us up there and close to the avenue that circles around the head of Kit Carson.
Looking back:

Ok…my turn. We waited for Homi for a couple minutes and regrouped at the base of the traverse. As soon as we were all there, I took off in the lead setting the boot pack up and around the avenue. The snow varied from hard windslab, to slush, to corn. Sometimes the steps were shallow, and sometimes they added security by going to knee depth. We continued up and around to the top of the avenue where we would regroup and eat some food.

A quick down climb

Almost there:

Cool pic:

Looking back:

After we were all together again, we dropped down the other side and made quick time to the other saddle.

Joe and I climbing Challenger:

Homi opted to just wait at the top of the kirk, while Joe and I headed up challenger. A half hour after leaving the top of the avenue we were on top of our second peak of the day. We clicked in and made some turns down windslab to where Homi was waiting. We skied the upper part of the couloir to where it really drops and gets a little steeper. From here we skied one at a time from zone to zone and came out in the valley below.



Too fast:

Looking back:

We skied down valley to the lake and then through the woods to the lower headwall and skied back to our shoes.

After switching plastic for leather, we went along the death march that is lower willow lake. Basically it was just capping off a long damn day in the mountains.

We reached the trailhead around 5:25 pm, bringing an end to a 15.5 hour day.

Homi showed up a little later:

We were both glad to get these both in a day, and add just a couple more to our lists. Great day boys!

Nothing better than 90 shilling to cap off the day:

 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
Amazing photos and trip you went on there! Looks like quite the adventure. I'd be honored if I got the chance to ski with you. And how much storage space do those pictures take up?

Jon Frohlich

Awesome TR but....
04/23/2008 21:28
Great photography and TR but 91 pics????? This thing takes forever to load even on a high-speed connection.


04/23/2008 21:29
I took about 850, there were too many good ones.


04/23/2008 21:41
Great report, guys! Good work.


Great job!
04/23/2008 21:51
What a great day. I really like the looks of Kirk Couloir right now. Congratulations, guys!


04/23/2008 22:05
I love that place! Never been with alot of snow- but looks like fun!

You‘re 150 short = A thousand pictures are worth a word 8)


It was easy!
04/23/2008 23:01
Cant you tell by that pic of me in the parking lot

Jordan, that pic of you skiing along the ridge off the summit of Kit with Colony Baldy(?) in the background is MONEY! Frame and wall worthy I might say.

Thanks for putting this up, good luck in San Diego you hippy


Friggin‘ sweet
04/23/2008 23:31
I can‘t believe someone is actually complaining about too many pic‘s. I‘m with doumall, that pic needs to be blown up HUGE!!!


04/24/2008 00:36
i love the IMAX experience with these pix, as if i need any more distractions at work.



my third time checkin‘ out this TR...
11/30/2010 17:28
Fascinating work. Great pics man. Haven't seen Joey look so beat ever . That's a lot of vert for one day.


04/24/2008 16:07
I‘m back for another look myself! GREAT job and looks like a complete BLAST!!
As a no snow climb experience person- may I ask one question?
It looks kinda scary trying to walk KC avenue and cross with snow on it, with the slope angle and all. How do you know if/when that is safe, or marginal or... and the snow won‘t break away and all that?
just curious thanks!


Hard to answer
04/24/2008 16:49
First of all, you need to be comfortable with somewhat steep snowclimbing, self-arrest and what not, but more than that, having crampons is helpful. Leading the way across, I was testing each step to an extent, making sure that I could get it in either deeply, or on solid snow. Parts of it were wetter than we would have liked, and that is something to think about too...Be up there before it gets too soft in the morning. Its more likely to have a wetslide this time of year than to have it break away like you might think a cornice would.

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