Peak(s):  Columbia Point  -  13,980 feet
Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Adams A, Mt  -  13,931 feet
Date Posted:  06/08/2009
Modified:  05/07/2010
Date Climbed:   06/05/2009
Author:  lordhelmut
 These peaks really make you feel up there  

L-R = Humboldt, Crestone Needle, Crestone Pk, Columbia Pt, Kit Carson, Challenger Pt.

Peaks - Columbia Pt via OB Couloir, traverse to Kit Carson via SE slopes. Mt.Adams via West Ridge

Glen and I headed down to the Sangres for a few Centenniels as well as an interesting climb up the other side of Kit Carson. Challenger was originally on the agenda, but with fast moving in clouds and sheer loss of interest, we decided against it at the last second.

We met up in Wash Park, headed to Sunflower Market for provisions for the trip (a backpacker's paradise I may add), got some bagel's at Moe's and made our way for the San Luis Valley. We arrived into the town of Crestone with some Tool "Lateralus" playing for some motivation up to Willow Lake. Hit the trail around 2:45pm, Glen with his minimailist Osprey Variant 37L pack, myself taking the heavy loader, filling up my Palisade 80L with a smaller summit pack for the 2 night stay.

Glen trying to take this sign seriously
you've been warned

We arrived at the lake around 6pm, set up camp on a perch above the lake on its northern shores, right off the trail, a decent vantage point since we'd be doing Kat and Kit one day and Adams the next.

The weather was a tad mixed this evening, but we were able to get a few solid sunset shots from near our campsite.

Right from around our camp
reflection off Willow Lake

After some brown rice, chili mix, refried instant beans, cheese and tabasco, we hit the sack with hopes of an early start and clear sky.

Day 2 - Columbia Pt via Outward Bound Couloir, traverse to Kit Carson via SE Slopes

Alarm went off around 3am, hit the trail around 4:15. Around the top of the waterfall running into Willow Lake, we broke off from the now snow covered trail and made out way east towards the North Ridge of Kit Carson and the OB Couloir hiding around the ridge.

Sun hitting our objective for the day. Columbia on the left, OB Couloir the obvious line up the middle and Kit to the right
OB Couloir in the morning

Looking North towards Adams
Adams across the valley

About halfway up the couloir, the sun came out and I realized I forgot my sunglasses in the tent. Not the end of the world, but I've herd my fair share of horror stories of what bright snow can do to your eyes after enough exposure. I tried to cope at first, but it quickly became apparent they'd be hurting later on. Glen, luckily, had an extra pair of lenses in his case, so with a little string and duct tape, he was able to jerry-rigg something that looked like this.....

my jerry rigged sunglasses for the day

Unorthodox, but they did the trick. As we approached the top of the couloir, we decided to take the left branch towards Columbia Pt for a more direct line and we'd also end up at a higher elevation and closer to the summit.

Glen climbing towards the junction, the obvious left branch deeply inset.


It was relatively short, but it began to get pretty narrow as we got further and further up.

Glen nearing the top

At the top, looking back down the steep, narrow chute
looking down the narrow, steep couloir

Then it got really steep

This was right below the ridge leading to the summit. A rope would've definately been nice here for our mental well being. The climbing isn't incredibly complicated or difficult, but the snow wasn't all that deep at times and there was a decent amount of large cliffs below us, a fall here would not end well. Needless to say, we took extra care, especially on the downclimb.

We topped out on the not so obvious true summit of Columbia Pt around 8:00am, it was still covered with snow and we could not locate the plaque. It was an airy summit, reminded me of Pyramid, except smaller. We sat there for a good long while, trying to figure out if we were actually on the summit, or if a large hump that appeared to be a tad higher to the east, was what we were really looking for. Too mentally tired to care, we took some shots and headed towards a second objective, Kit Carson.

Looking over at Kit from the summit of Columbia (our route went up the second chute from the right, gained the ridge and ridge ran to the summit), still a decent amount of snow. It looks like a nice mtn to ski, but I wasn't to thrilled about lugging everything up to the lake.

Kit Carson from Columbia Pt

Glen striking a contemplating life pose with the Northern Sangres in the background
Glen w/ the Northern Sangres

And the prominent Needle with what we thought might've been the actual summit of Columbia (fortunately, we were on the right summit)

We downclimbed the exact route we came up, making it back to the saddle of the OB Couloir and being able to breathe a little easier being on safer ground.

A look back at our route up Columbia from high up on Kit's SE Slopes. If you look closely, you'll see some faint tracks heading up the right side of the slope, this was certainly a steep, airy region.

our route and tracks on Columbia Pt.

We gained the sharp ridge and we on the summit of Kit Carson not later than 9:30am and clouds began to quickly roll in.

Glen along the ridge to the summit

A look at our route along the spine of the ridge with clouds rolling in

We both agreed that Columbia and Kit were enough excitement forone day. Having read previous reports of the snow filled avenue, a traverse to Challenger didn't sound too appealing. We eventually just headed back to the OB and glissaded from there. Glen, having dropped his glove and helplessly watch it tumble down the chute, was able to retrieve it on the way back. This was a good thing, since the next morning was cold and windy as hell.

Glen glissading down the OB Couloir
glissading the OB

The soft snow made for some of the best glissading snow i've ever experienced. The slope angle in the OB is not incredibly steep either, so we were able to remain in control the entire way down, with a very numb bum to boot.

We reached camp around noon and immediately took a long nap. After some mac and cheese and water filtering, I think we actually hit the sack around 4:30pm and neither of us awoke till the alarm at 2:15am.

Day 3 - Mt.Adam via West Ridge w/ some hopeful sunrise shots of the area

We agreed to wake up ass early to get some sunrise shots from the summit of Adams. Glen recently purchased a G-10 Canon with around 15 megapixels and a plethera of capabilities so he wanted to test it out with the best possible lighting.

We basically did the entire climb in the pitch black. Here's Glen heading up the West Ridge with Adams summit block high above....

hiking in the dark

From reading Roach's description, it sounded like an easy class 2 walk up. But the summit block would prove to be an ineresting, sporty climb ith some serious steep drop offs on the left side and a snow covered slope on the right. We reached the summit around 6am with the sun finally popping through the clouds...

sunrise over the Wet Mtn Valley

It wasn't the morning we hoped for in terms of ideal lighting, but it made for some interesting shots nonetheless. Being so windy, we did not linger for too long and made the downclimb, actually finding the standard, cairned route on the way down.

Glen downclimbing Adams

Looking East through a notch

And our final look at a weekends work

We packed up camp quickly and made our way back to the car. The skies cleared and it was a pleasant trek back to the TH with two-22oz beers waiting for us. We made it back to the car around 11am, cooled the beers in the stream, listened to some more Tool and made our way for what we thought was a Thai Restaurant in Poncha Springs, but ended up being abandoned, despite a big "open" sign still up. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to hit up K's in BV, no loss there.

A parting shot of the weekend

Solid weekend in the Sangres, decent weather and a few more Centenniels done with.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

06/09/2009 03:26
Nice job Brian, d_baker summed up my thoughts exactly.


Picture 3
06/02/2011 14:57
That picture of the lake with the reflection of the mountain is sweet! Thanks for the report and great job.


nice shot of the avenue ...
06/08/2009 16:28
wrapping around Kit Carson. It made me realize how close we were to the summit the week previous (damn). Nice pics.


nice dude,
06/08/2009 16:36
Ill give you the photos I took, one would cape this report up nicely, its of a especially tasty new castle.

Wish I lived in CO

06/08/2009 16:40
Nice to see the different perspective views of KC from both Columbia and Adams.


Interesting food choices...
06/08/2009 17:29
”brown rice, chili mix, refried instant beans, cheese and tabasco”

This makes me glad I wasnt on this trip! You dont see that perspective of these peaks in winter conditions too often...


06/08/2009 17:37
Great report. I‘m shocked to see that the snow still looks pretty fresh up there.


06/08/2009 18:09
bjohnson - Glen and I took the exact same lake reflection shots, when I get around to it, I‘ll post his, given he had the better angle and camera

sean - its close, but you gotta do what you gotta do. If turning back felt to be the better option, its never a bad thing. Something tells me these mountains will be here for a while. Thanks for sending me those pics by the way, there‘s a lot of the.

wish i lived in co - i thought that was an interesting perspective as well, specially with the snow.

Scott - lets just say we took turns taking leads based on the amount of butane coming out of our keesters.

baumgara - I was pretty surprised too. It was raining on and off the day before, I imagine a decent amount of that precipitation turned to snow above 13k. Would‘ve made for a great ski, sans the approach.

Steve Knapp

So those were your steps on Adams!
06/08/2009 20:53
Hey Brian, looks like we just missed you. Which day were you on Adams, Friday or Saturday? We camped Fri and Sat night just below Willow Lake and didn‘t see anyone up there until Sunday afternoon. On Saturday we climbed 13546, 13153, Adams, 13580, 13517, 13541. We didn‘t see anyone all day or in camp either, but were astonished to see footsteps heading down Adams towards 13580. Must have been yours. After a nice snow climb on Challenger Sunday morning we headed out. A great weekend of climbing, but cold and windy as hell. Congrats on your climb of Kit and Columbia on OB as well as Adams. Adams in the dark, now that‘s something different.


06/08/2009 21:15
I‘ve got a picture of 13,546 as we were climbing up towards Adams around 4:30am. The sight of it in the dark with the east ridge not entirely visible was frightening, enhanced even more so by the dark clouds over the San Luis Valley. We were there friday morning before we packed out. Thats pretty cool and pretty amazing you had that place all to yourself. We saw a dayhiker one of the days in the late afternoon, that was it. Definately cold and windy, we must‘ve just missed you at the TH, we left around 1130 or so.


Very nice
06/08/2009 22:41
Those pictures are sweet, but TOOL is also sweet!


06/09/2009 00:37
Tool rocks.
So do your pictures.
Nice work man.


weekend work
06/09/2009 03:59
What no ski‘s this time. Sure looks like great work if you can get it. Nice photos and write up.......


Well done.
06/09/2009 04:56
Still looking great down there. Very nice trip.


Holy crap
06/09/2009 11:36
Brian, those photos are incredible. What a neat weekend in the Sangres. Fantastic report and nice job to both of you.

PS- did you really mean you are hanging up your skis for the season?!


06/09/2009 14:48
Tool + 22oz + helluva weekend in Sangres = perfect weekend. Very nice shots, pics, and always! One of these days we will meet up for that beer/whiskey at the Rover!


Good stuff
06/09/2009 15:50
Man you‘re getting after ‘em this year. Parabola gets me going before tough climbs. What no Enya this time ?


06/09/2009 16:36
JA, DBaker and Sarah - good to see some tool fans, I‘ve often thought people at TH‘s think the blaring sounds of Maynard come as unwelcome, guess I‘m wrong, good to know.

bckntryskr/Roan - it is worth it to bring the planks. OB was soft, would‘ve been fun, just wasn‘t in the mood for the haul w/ extra gear.

Caroline - neat weekend indeed, and yes, they are hung up.

Mark - lets get that beer/whiskey soon

Prakash - All we had was Tool and RHCP. Sangres are surrounded by an unforgiving, desolate landscape, no time for Enya down there, you know?

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