Kit Carson Pk. & Challenger Pt. from Willow Lake
(standard Class 2+/3 route)

29 Jul 2007 - by Patrick Lilly

This was just a simple ascent of Kit Carson via the standard peakbaggers' route over Challenger Point. We hiked up the Willow Creek trail to Willow Lake on Saturday (28 July) afternoon, getting rained on and drenched in the process. At 5 am on Saturday, heavy clouds still hung over the area, and we were still considering abandoning the climb. We decided to give it a shot, however, and headed out from camp at about 5:30 am.

By 8:30 or so, we had reached the summit of Challenger, still under pervasive overcast. This ascent was actually the hardest climbing on the entire route, and I rate it as a low Class 3, for a few big steps and some loose rock. We signed the register and started down to the Challenger/Kit Carson saddle. We negotiated Kit Carson Avenue to its end, climbed the Class 2+ gully, and reached the summit of Kit Carson at about 10:30. Still no real sunshine. Drifting mist and clouds hid most of the rest of the Crestones group most of the time, with just occasional peeks at nearby mountains.

We made it back over Challenger, and down to the lake, in about 3 hours and 15 minutes, by which time the sun had finally come mostly out, warming the day considerably. We spent about 45 minutes breaking camp, and made it back down the 4.5 miles of trail to the TH in another 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Less than superlative weather, but stunning mountains, and a satisfying climb, all the same.

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