Columbia and Obstruction from the East
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Difficulty:
 Difficult Class 2 
Trailhead:South Colony Lakes
Start:9,950 feet
Summit:13,980 feet
Total Gain:4,900 feet
RT Length:13.5 miles
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:11/2017
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:18 reports
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? (WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. All 14er routes are more difficult and more dangerous in winter.

Trailhead

Take Colorado 69 south from Westcliffe. Drive 4.5 miles and turn right on Colfax Lane. Drive 5.5 miles to the end of Colfax. Turn right and drive 1 mile on a dirt road to a junction. Continue straight up the 120 Road for 0.3 mile to the Lower 2WD Trailhead at 8,800'. To reach the Upper 4WD Trailhead, continue 2.7 miles to parking/camp spots before the first river crossing, near 9,950'. In 2009, the South Colony Lakes road was permanently closed here (gate) and this is the current trailhead. The trail starts next to the trailhead kiosk, in the parking area.

Route

From the gate closure at 9,950', pass the trailhead sign, cross the foot bridge ( 1) and walk 2.5 miles up the old South Colony Lakes road to reach a signed junction. Turn right to follow the standard Humboldt Peak trail through the forest - 2. After 0.6 mile on the trail, cross a rocky area - 3. After nearly a mile on this trail, exit the trees and continue through willows to the north of Lower South Colony Lake - 4. Continue toward Upper South Colony Lake (hidden) and locate a trail junction above the lake - 5. Turn right and continue on the Humboldt trail as it zigzags up a steep slope to reach 12,850', on a saddle just west of Humboldt Peak - 6.

Walk west along the ridge to reach the base of a 13,290-foot point and hike nearly 400' up the somewhat-loose ridge ( 7) to gain the top of the point where you'll have an excellent view of the route ahead - 8. Staying on or near the ridge crest, scramble 0.4 mile along this rugged ridge ( 9 and 10) to reach a large, flat area called "Bears Playground" - 11. Enter the playground near 13,100', turn right and hike northwest toward the top of unnamed point 13,799', also known as "Obstruction Peak" - 12 and 13. Avoid the temptation to hike directly up the rocks by hiking north for a few hundred feet before angling northwest toward the ridge. Once on the ridge crest, turn left and continue to Obstruction's summit - 14.

Your next goal is to gain Kit Carson Mountain's eastern summit which is actually made up of two points - Columbia Point (13,980') and a slightly lower one, often called "Kitty Kat Carson." Like Kit Carson's western summit, Challenger Point (14,081'), Columbia was named after a U.S. Space Shuttle accident. Leave Obstruction's summit and continue west down the Class 2/2+ ridge to reach the saddle between Obstruction and Kitty Kat Carson/Columbia Point - 15. Staying near the right side of the large "bowl" on Kitty Kat's east face, ascend steep Class 2 terrain ( 16 and 17) for 600' to reach the top, where you'll see the summit of Columbia Point only 0.1 mile away - 18. Continuing west, drop 50' on the south side before ascending to the top of Columbia - 19.

Notes

None
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19
Topo

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