Challenger Point

 North Slope
Difficulty Difficult Class 2 
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Moderate  
TrailheadWillow Creek
Start8,850 feet
Summit14,086 feet
Total Gain5,400 feet from TH
2,600 feet from Willow Lake
RT Length13.5 miles from TH
4 miles from Willow Lake
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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Take Colorado 17 to the town of Moffat. On the south side of town, look for the sign for Crestone and turn east on the "RD T" road. Drive approx. 11.5 miles to Crestone. Continue straight and turn left on Alder Street. Drive through town a bit and turn right onto Galena. Follow Galena out of town and it turns to dirt. Now on Forest Service road #949, it's approx. 2 miles to the trailhead.


Taken from near the town of Crestone, 1 is a look at Challenger from the west. First, follow the Willow Creek Approach to Willow Lake. If you are camping, there are campsites below the lake. From the sites, follow the trail past a waterfall and onto a small hill next to the lake - 2. Turn left and hike up and out of the trees to reach a boulder field - 3. Continue through it as you approach the waterfall at the east end of the lake - 4, 5 and 6. Cross the stream above the waterfall and follow cairns and trail segments across the remainder of this flat area - 7.

Reach a trail junction and stay right for Challenger and Kit Carson - 8. Walk a bit farther before climbing right onto the base of Challenger's north slopes, at 11,900' - 9. Following the excellent trail, zig zag through ledges and a boulder field - 10. Near 12,300', the trail heads south out onto more gentle terrain - 11. Now, climb along the left side of a rock "rib" as the trail starts to become less maintained - 12. Stay near the rib and continue higher as the terrain steepens - 13, 14 and 15. Near 13,200' and near the upper portion of the rib, traverse left toward more difficult terrain. Weave up through rock slabs and leave the safety of the grass to reach the crux of the route - 600 feet of steep, talus-covered terrain - 16. The route can be confusing and dangerous so take your time. Look for cairns and you should be able to keep the difficulty under Class 3 - 17 and 18. Stay right of the snow-filled (into August) gully to your left and continue to a notch in the ridge - 19 and 20.

Pass through the notch ( 21), turn left and gain the summit ridge - 22. Follow the ridge southeast toward the summit - 23. Portions of the summit ridge are narrow so some people find it more comfortable to drop a few feet left to avoid the exposure. The last 0.1 mile becomes slightly steeper as you approach the summit - 24, 25 and 26.


IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.
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