Kit Carson Peak  
Condition Updates  
Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2022-07-10, By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: Similar to last report - snow field below Outward Bound Couloir. One in my group of 3 traversed across higher up (pic); myself and someone else went across the snow lower as it was warming up and steps were easy to make (5 steps max). You could avoid it if you wanted to go down and around. Fabulous route up - highly recommend if you are comfortable with route finding through the basin and are up for a class 4. The rock has amazing hand and footholds. We stayed closer to ridge proper or slightly to the right. When you hit the final notch and meet up with the standard route there is some snow still but all is avoidable. Photos attached of: Outward Bound Couloir (+ the snow climber we saw heading up it) and snow patch we went across (I went lower than the person in this pic). 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2022-07-10, By: Penhawk
Info: Second time out here aiming for Kit Carson. I was humbled by how challenging Challenger was. The Avenue over to Kit Carson has amazing views. The Class 3 section wasn't bad at all, but could be made tougher than it is with bad route finding. Going back over to Challenger was tough as I was wiped out and almost outta gas. Don't let the mileage fool you, it's a slow steep few miles. These were some beautiful mountains, but like all, pretty demanding. most of the way up Challenger is pick your adventure as the trail seems to come and go. once up, easy moving to K Carson. enjoy 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2022-07-04, By: swesleyc7
Info: Summer conditions, dependent upon current weather. No snow what-so-ever on the ascent or summit. Traverse between Challenger / Kit Carson is perfect. Weather this day is foggy in the morning and intermittent rain in the afternoon. Temperatures range from 40 to low 60's, often cold. 
Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2022-07-02, By: Alpenglo
Info: Echo the previous post for the standard route. Be prepared to climb some class 3 terrain on Challenger or do some significant route finding to keep it at class 2 around the remaining snow fields. For the North Ridge route, things are pretty much summer conditions except for the base of the OB couloir. The OB couloir is still holding some pretty good snow for climbing up or glissading/skiing down. There are a few snow "fingers" extending down from it, but they are avoidable on the climbers right side to get up onto the N ridge. Near the top of the N ridge, avoid the temptation of leaving the ridge proper and following a cairn along a cut on the right side as there is still significant snow there. Just stay on the ridge proper and it's all clear and solid climbing. Also climbed Columbia Point while descending the standard route from KC. Summer conditions there and some great class 3/4 climbing. Definitely worth it and highly recommend if you have the energy! Posted a pic of the plaque on the summit for those that are interested. Have fun & be safe! 
6 2
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2022-06-29, By: scott_s
Info: Route is almost entirely clear of snow, except one 5 foot wide section of the avenue, it's pretty easy to rock hop over it (first photo). Approach and north slope of Challenger is very wet up to around 13500'. North slope is also extremely loose, the descent on wet, loose rock was treacherous and by far the hardest part of the day. There are a couple extra small snow fields hanging around on the north slope, best is to make sure you get well left of them or you'll end with some class 3+ moves. Summit of Kit Carson is an incredible place on a calm, warm day. Only saw 2 other hikers today. Campsites were filling up for the next day though so maybe I just got lucky. 12 hours total from the parking lot = 5hrs to Challenger summit / 2 hrs round trip to Kit Carson / 4.5 hrs descent / 30 mins of breaks. Added a photo of Crestone at the end for those that are curious. 
4 1
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2022-06-19, By: Gpacardella
Info: Similar conditions as 6/14/22 post: Got boxed in by snow up Challenger ascent and we were in an un-forecasted whiteout for 4 hours, which may have led to our positioning, but in any event we had to climb a wet, cold, Class IV face for about 50'. There is definitely a 99% snow free route that we hit on the way down. I suggest once you pass upper Willow Lake (or can see in normal conditions), traverse across the valley towards the right hand edge of the "snow gully" (in 14ers description) and then make your ascent paralleling the snow gully to the ridge notch, then follow the spine to the summit. The Avenue for Kit is fine, with some snow banks you can avoid. We did not have spikes or an axe and it was fine. 
1 1
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2022-06-14, By: drotleff
Info: Not quite summer conditions yet. There is enough snow between the rib and the notch on the way to Challenger Point that you may miss where you need to turn towards the gully. I accidentally went off trail and found myself doing class 4 moves above a steep snow field. Burned valuable time trail-finding up Challenger. Meanwhile, there are still snow patches on Kit Carson avenue. I had spikes and an ice axe and I didn't feel adequately prepared. Give this loop another 14 days or so be completely clear of ice. 
8 7
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: Jirwindisc
Info: We were concerned about the ice fields on Kit Carson Avenue, however, we were able to make it without issue with an Ice Axe and Yak Trax. My buddy simply had microspikes and followed in my footsteps. Yes, there is still snow, but it looks more daunting than it actually is. Posting photos to show what it looks like, but when we first viewed the Avenue we thought "No Way we'll do that" but when we got up close it was much easier. 
6 1
Route: South Couloir
Posted On: 2022-01-15, By: supranihilest
Info: Spanish Creek approach is also arduous, but nothing technical like Cottonwood to the south. There's a few Creek crossings in the first mile and a half or so and upwards of 100 downed trees from trailhead to treeline. We put in fresh tracks, so follow either the trail if it's melted or our boot prints. The area near treeline to the bottom of the couloir is taxing with more snow than we expected. Heavy drifting occurred yesterday. There's talus and boulders below treeline as well, and much of it is unstable. The couloir itself is very straightforward. Snow in the morning was a little spooky with a soft, new slab from the storm atop punchy ice and frozen slush. Stability was OK, but if you don't like the feel of the snow then back off of it! The bottom was both shallowest in angle and thinnest in snowpack. The middle third was deepest and steepest - potentially bad combo. We avoided a section we didn't like by scrambling the rocks to climber's left, then returned to the snow when angle relented a little. The top was middle of the road as far as both angle and snow depth. From the top of the couloir we crossed a short rib at about Class 2+, then climbed steep snow and scrambled more or less in an upward and left trending line. Snow depth was relatively low on the upper face and stability good despite the high angle. Once we reached the summit ridge it was all easy to the top. We reversed our route back down to our showshoes below the couloir. Snow was a little more moist on the descent and actually felt more stable. That said, this couloir is deeply inset and doesn't see much sun - do NOT climb it if you aren't 100% comfortable! Flotation was useful from about 10,500 to treeline. We wore spikes from 10,500 to the trailhead on the descent and crampons for the couloir to summit. Ice axe is mandatory. 
11 3
Route: Spanish creek
Posted On: 2022-01-11, By: moon stalker
Info: Climbed Kit Carson from Spanish creek. The new permit process is easy. One restriction to consider is you can't park on their property overnight. I parked at a pullout at intersection with Spanish creek trail road. It's right at the start of the trail itself. I packed in snow shoes but didn't need them. Snow was too variable to make them useful and too powdery. I packed in, but turns out could have done it in one day. The recent storms didn't seem to dump as much on the west side of the range compared to what the snotel station had for the east side. I climbed the small ridge immediately left of the couloir. It's hairy in spots from 13000 to 13200 but it goes. If it had been drier I might have been able to get off the top of the ridge and find easier terrain but there was 2 to 4 inches of fresh snow on sat night so I stayed ridge proper to avoid slab There were point releases into the couloir. There probably wasn't much volume in the couloir itself though. And the point releases were just of the fresh snow from the previous night. Did the ridge with spikes only. Used ax on the way down. Much of the snow from the previous night had melted by the afternoon lower on the peak. 
Route: Spanish Creek
Posted On: 2021-12-24, By: angry
Info: Did not use traction/flotation. Snowed most of day so might be useful in the future. 
3 2
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2021-12-22, By: jscully205
Info: Start point was Spanish Creek Trailhead for a more direct approach. A light amount of snow on the trail all up with more down trees than I remembered in the fall climbing the Prow. No floatation necessary on the way up. The peak itself was mostly dry with patches of snow that didn't warrant any traction (Some parties might want it though.) Seemed to be in late fall condition on a normal year. Avenue looked to be loading up with snow as it normally does. 
5 8
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2021-09-18, By: Sapper36
Info: Did C/KC via Willow Lake. The scree, deteriorated trail on the upper reaches of Challenger is not fun, but not horrible. The route up KC from the avenue is fairly obvious, but doesn't take advance nav skills either. We went up climbers right gully and came down the earlier gully marked with large cairn. The latter had less loose debris, rocks. 
Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 2021-09-13, By: pboldt94
Info: Did Kit Karson and Challenger via South Colony Lake (East Ridge). Low winds, sunny and hot! Prepare for a lot of ridgeline. Enjoyed this non-standard approach. Route finding was not too bad. Lots of cairns and varying routes. Much easier on the return hike. For those interested in distances/elevation for both summits, I ended with 15.5 miles and 6,600 feet of elevation gain, similar to that of the standard route. Parked at the upper trailhead at south colony. Tough seeing mountain rescue come in for Crestone tragedy as I was getting back into my car. Feel free to reach out with questions about the route. 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2021-08-29, By: durkan
Info: Beautiful conditions out! Surprised those peaks were still holding some snow (it should be stated it is all avoidable, full summer conditions). Great trail switchbacks up to Challenger to about 12.2~12.4k feet, so to me made it feel less miserable than advertised. But that misery catches you quick 600ft below the notch in the ridge. After Challenger, the Avenue was quick travel. Took the dotted route up to Kit Carson after because why mess with loosy goosy rock? 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2021-08-09, By: tsand
Info: Good weather, not super smoky. We went from the TH around 3:45am and finished around 4:15pm and that was hiking pretty quickly. Like many others have said, Challenger is a doozy. The trail is still a mess and not fun to descend. Once through the notch, there isn't a really a trail, just rock-hopping to the summit and over to the Avenue. 
Route: Willow Creek Approach
Posted On: 2021-07-31, By: geneseejen
Info: Note - there are water resupply points (small streams) starting around 10.3K, well before Crossing Willow Cr at around 10.9K. 
Route: Spanish Creek
Posted On: 2021-07-25, By: dlintz
Info: We descended the Spanish Creek approach on 7/24/21 after summiting Kit Carson via Columbia Peak. Strong thunderstorms created flash flooding shortly after we crossed the higher of the three log bridges. We watched as rising waters swept the second log bridge away. We were forced to ascend 500 feet up a muddy slope to the south and escape down the next drainage. Long story short, all of the log crossings in the lower portion of the Spanish Creek approach are gone and will need to be replaced. 
Route: North Ridge
Posted On: 2021-07-10, By: Bradenkerrco
Info: Summited Kit Carson first via north ridge. Ridge is dry, there are a few snowfields to cross when hiking below the cliff bands but can be avoided with the new trail. We didn't have to cross any snow. Hiked down Challenger Point route, the Avenue is dry, no gear needed. Lots of mosquitos right now. 
Route: Via Challenger Point
Posted On: 2021-07-10, By: JROSKA
Info: Small patches of snow remain on parts of the Avenue but it is all avoidable. Summer conditions. 

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