Peak(s):  Challenger Point  -  14,086 feet
Date Posted:  05/24/2022
Date Climbed:   09/06/2020
Author:  Chagster1
 Challenger Pt with Perfect Weather   

Challenge Pt

6 September 2020

My second hike for 2020 would take me to Challenger Pt. The plan was to hike both Challenger Pt and Kit Carson the same day, but that would later prove very difficult. My buddy Ryan and I left Central Texas on Saturday morning. After 15 hours of driving, we arrived to the Town of Crestone and decided to have a bite to eat and drink at the Crestone Brewing Company. It was a very good place and satisfied us-definitely recommend. Afterwards, we headed to the trailhead. The plan was to park as close to the trailhead as possible and car camp, but the parking lot was jammed packed with hikers already had left to the lake. We ended up parking about a ½ mile from the Trailhead and found a nice spot to pitch a tent. At that point, Ryan began complaining of a severe headache that he simply couldn’t shake. I knew it was bad due to Ryan’s experience, and hoped for the best for the next day’s hike.

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Sangres in the Distance
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Challenger Pt from Crestone Brewery

After a short “nap” we both got up around 2:30 am and ultimately Ryan gave me some bad news. He was going to have to sit this one out due to his migraine headache that came out of nowhere. Although I’ve hiked solo before, this was going to be a first with this kind of mileage (13.5 miles) and the fact that Kit Carson was a Class 3. Nonetheless, I proceeded up the ½ mile trek back to the trailhead, signed into the ledger and noticed all the bear sighting signs everywhere which actually spooked me. After a deep breath, I ventured out into the pure darkness of the trail and began my hike around 3:00 am for Challenger. My hope was that I’d hit the lake around Sunrise.

After an initial push into the woods, a bright light caught my eye. There was a hiker standing alone in the trail motion less. His name was Austin and he was from Iowa (don’t know how I remember that). He claimed he had seen some bright looking eyes in the wood line and was cautious that it might be a bear. Together, we cautiously pushed our way further towards the lake with no issues, and indeed hit the campers and the lake around sunrise. Austin had informed me this was his first mountain with some exposure and was unsure of himself. I told him I’d stick with him and we would make it together. After passing the water fall and zig-zagging our way into the boulder field, we finally hit the main difficult part of the route. There was some trail maintenance going on, and I really appreciate what those guys do.

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Willow Lake
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Challenger in the Distance

As we approached more difficult terrain, I found myself beginning to separate from Austin a bit, and I tried waiting on him, but he fell more and more behind. Eventually, he disappeared altogether, and I found myself alone for the remainder part of the climb. I know the route description specifically states to stay to the right of the snowfield in the gully, but for some reason, my sense of direction was not clear, and I and a few others found ourselves in Steep Class 3 terrain parallel with the snowfield. Navigating was tough through this area and the Class 3 scrambling and route finding totally took a toll on both my body and mind. Eventually with some help, I reached the notch in the ridge and scrambled onto the Ridge.

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Class 3 Scrambling, Don't go this way!
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Looking back

After a brief scamper along the ridge, I had made it. Challenger Point 14,081 feet and felt accomplished. I looked over at Kit Carson and decided that I’d have to do this hike again someday because Kit was going to have to wait. I was just too worn out and I knew going for it was going to make for a miserable end of the day. Cell service is outstanding and I was face-timing on the summit. Additionally, I had a beer from Rentsch Brewery located in Georgetown, TX and drank to celebrate. After 30 min, I decided to head down and several hours later I finally made it back to the car. It was a tough hike, but well worth it. By that time, Ryan’s headache had finally gone away and he was bummed, but said it was better to be safe than sorry later, even with his experience.

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The Notch
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Ridgeline
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Summit
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Representing Rentsch Brewery!
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Kit Carson waiting

My recommendation is to either camp at the lake and it make a weekend event or start very early at the trailhead. It was long day, but I would still do either/or. On another note, sometimes, it’s just better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not feeling up to it one day (even experienced) save for another day. This is not the type of mountain that you’d want to chance it on. Weather was perfect!




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