Peak(s):  Columbia Point - 13,980 feet
Date Posted:  09/10/2013
Date Climbed:   09/07/2013
Author:  Yikes
 Columbia Pt from Colony Lakes   

A few free weekend days and feeling the urge for a couple more Centennials. I was contemplating the French Group in the Sawatch and possibly Columbia Pt in the Sangres, both only an hour or so from Salida where I was holed up. A quick check on NOAA provided the itinerary for Saturday (50% chance of rain for Leadville, only 30% chance for Westcliffe) so I settled on starting the weekend with Columbia Pt.

I had hiked up to Cottonwood Lake the prior weekend with some friends, scoping out a winter approach to the Crestones. This weekend would see the opposite side of the range, via the famed Colony Lakes TH. Since I was only about an hour and a half from the trailhead, I decided to sleep in Salida and wake up at 4:30am for the early morning drive. Not much traffic that hour of day, so the drive went quickly and the deer were pleasantly absent. The drive up to the TH seemed a bit rougher than it was a few years ago when I climbed Crestone Pk. I'm assuming the road isn't seeing much periodic maintenance. The TH was pretty crowded with vehicles and I had to fit into the last available spot at 6:15am.
On prior trips up to the "upper TH", I have been a passenger (learned the importance of taking off the seat belt on nasty roads), driver (destroyed the transmission on my Trooper) and bicyclist (had to push more than I could ride). This time would be on foot with my trusty sidekick, Annabelle Ferocious. The hike up the road (~2.5m) went by pretty quickly and we headed up the right fork to the upper lake. That section of trail is in much better condition than when I used it last a few years back. Easy hike through the woods, great views of the Needle and a fairly short ascent up to the pass (I remember it being much longer).

Needle from trail to upper lake

The ridge traverse over to the Bears Playground was probably the crux of the day. There wasn't anything exposed or dangerous, but lots of weaving around various pillars and rock walls. I was expecting a quick 15min walk and it ended up taking a bit more time than that (about an hour).

climb up to the connecting ridge

Annie enjoying the views

Connecting ridge (easier section)

The hike across the Playground was a nice reprieve from the rock hopping, but short lived. The ascending talus traverse was pretty straightforward, fairly stable and lots of cairns showing the way. As advertised, the cairns lead directly to the saddle ("Kitty Kat Carson", Obstruction Pk), where the rest of the route presented itself, looking improbable.

Kitty Kat Carson face looks difficult from afar

But as with most routes (i.e. Pyramid), paths that look impossible from a distance typically are much tamer as you make your way upwards. The steep face was actually many wide ledges, much easier than Eolus.

but up close is pretty easy

The summit of "Kitty Kat Carson" was fairly large and it was a quick stroll over to Columbia Pt.

I took a peek down the route used to traverse over to Kit Carson and it seemed fairly straightforward; not as steep and dastardly as some pictures had led me to believe. Since it was already going to be a long day, I didn't give any thought to Kit Carson.

Kitty Kat Carson (from Columbia Pt)

The downclimb to the saddle went quickly and I made the decision to hike up to Obstruction Point, which was only 300 feet higher. The ridge was a nice sidewalk in the sky and the peak had some nice drop offs on the northern side.

Sidewalk in the sky (up to Obstruction)

Leaving the summit, it was an easy grassy descent down to the Playground (if you make sure to avoid the large talus slopes).

crux connecting ridge

grassy slopes down to the Playground

The traverse back across the ridge to the Humboldt saddle took a chunk of time, but the route seemed more obvious in this direction.


The hike back to the TH went fairly slowly. We weren't in a big hurry and Ferocious was acting a bit tired. Lots of traffic on the 4wd road, mostly people coming in to camp out Sat night.

Back to Salida by 7pm, ordered another killer pizza from Moonlight and hit the couch. Since Annie was beat (and I didn't want another 4:30am wakeup call), we decided that one Centennial was enough for the weekend. Ended up going for a short mtn bike ride on Sunday, experiencing the trail damage caused by the heavy Sept 1 rainstorm, went endo and earned some nice abrasions. Fun stuff.

Summary - nice long hike, fairly straightforward Class 2, great scenery

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
09/11/2013 03:17
makes me smile...cute dog

When I went and did KC and Challenger earlier in the summer I really wanted to traverse over to Columbia Point. Some advised against it, some said it was difficult but worth it but ultimately the weather said no. That seems like a nice way to climb those. Thanks for the report!

09/11/2013 14:52
I've been looking at this approach. Thankful to see some beta. Curious, why did you not continue to the other peaks?

”Looking improbable”
09/11/2013 15:58
Darn right. That concave face looks highly unlikely until you're traipsing through it. Nice job.

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