Ascent of Kit Carson Mountain on 2010-06-26

Climber: David Foster

Others in Party:Vaune
Jim & Beth
Date:Saturday, June 26, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Kit Carson Mountain
    Elevation:14165 ft / 4317 m

Ascent Trip Report

Challenger Point & Kit Carson Peak
From campsite near top of waterfall above Willow lake
Topo 3.59mi, 3560' Ascent/Descent
MapSource 3.5mi, 10:06 hours
Oregon GPS latest software v3.8: 2.91mile, 4590Ascent including ~ 300' autocalibrate beginning, 4539 Descent; 1:51 move, 8:15 stop, obviously move threshould too high
Vaune, Jim & Beth Davis
Drove separately as J&B intended to do Mt. Adams on Sunday. Met at Morrisn Fort and caravaned to Town of Crestone, then 2 miles of direct road Met at 725, arrived about 1115am. The last 2 miles weren't too bad, although last mile marked for 4x4 only, but apparently due to the sandy conditions, not so much the grade or clearance.
Lunch at trailhead, mosquitos were bad. They only got worse with the hike, which started about 1215. Vaune and I ahead trying to stay fast enought for bugs not to land. Citronella seemed to keepf rom landing, but the swarming was almost to the point of inhaling. Didn't seem to vary much with location, but a light breeze occasionally reduced them considerably, momentarily. The trail started very sandy, and hot. Switchbacks most of the way until near Willow Lake. Trail was good surface except for some deadfall. TH ~8800ft to campsite about lake 11800', meant 3000' 5 mile backpack. Vaune and I packed quite light, J&B had lots of luxury items, very heavily burdened. For these primarily peakbagging backpack, the fast and light approach seems right.

At the campsite, only other party was 3 from Tulsa. This was their first 14er and seemed pretty apprehensive. As far as we know, they never tried to climb, or at least left after us and turned around quickly. They, like us had talked to 2 solo climbers leaving Friday who dscribed the route as requiring axes, and crampons. We did not find this, but this probably scared the Tulsans. Climbers tend to over state their accomplishments!!!

From Willow Lake to campsite we were hit with fairly heavy rain from a mostly blue sky, it did knock the bugs down considerably. Tents up quickly, had dinner. Breezes kept the bugs away. Talked too late and didn't take the planned walk up to the Outward Bound Couloir, the planned route. From the campsite, it appeared the snow was discontinuous on the apron. We decided to take the standard, North Slope approach to Challenger, then to Kit Carson (Kat Carson for J&B) . Leaving at 6am

It rained and blew most of the night, despite forecasts of slight chance of aternoon showers Woke up Sat at 5am to heavy overcast. Slowly prepared for departure, but 630 starting to look like skies were clearing, so we headed up 650am. Up a descent climbers trail mosly on grass, there were several, another on eroded out scree. Came to the Gully Snowfield and decided to snowclimb rather than take the standard rock route. With Crampons and Ice axes, the climbing was very good, noticed a very fit climber on the rock trail parallel moving very slowly...we had the better route. Snow from about 12800 to just short of the saddle at 13800'. 20' vertical scramble out of the saddle to ridgeline, hiked the ridgeline on almost trail to Challenger Point Summit. Not much rockhopping at all.

Down the ridgeline East towards the Challenger/Kit Carson saddle, similar trail quality. From this saddle, ran right into the amazing Kit Carson Avenue Ledge, which conveniently came down to the saddle. It was fairly steep but 8' wide in most places. Only small rock debris on it, and a rare snowpile that required a couple steps near the edge.

We left J&B at the standard gully up Kit Carson. I didn't remember the route description well, but found ourselves biasing climbers left to stay on solid rock rather than the eroded scree main trail. GPS trackpoints confirmed we were generally a few 10's of feet to the left of Middlebrooks route. Started up Gully at 1118, and summited at 1201. Beautiful view from summit, skies now mostly blue. Vaune called her parents from cellphone.

Started down at 1215 following a very nice staircase that we found from the summit, appeared togo even slightly more climbers left of Middlebrook route. Bottom third staryed alittle to the West and got into very slightly steeper stuff but very solid rock. We met J&B at departure point. Hiked back the route we came, except contoured slighly below the summit of Challenger Point (this was dangerous hopping of somewhat loose rock, not worth the effort and probably cost time). Jim had watched landmarks well and kept us above an non-obvious cliff line slightly below our contour. Came into the snowgully about the time the thunder was cracking badly and rain had begun to fall. We walked near the snow, thinking it too steep to buttglissade, but not willing to take time to put on Crampons. Eventually got on a wing of the gully but had trouble glissading. Ended up fast downclimbing with snow soft enough to kick in steps w/o trying. Bottom half of gully we glissaded with great fun. Needed the axe occasionally to slow down.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6500 ft / 1981 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5365 ft / 1635 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Snowing, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Hot Friday, rain Fri night, Clearing Sat. Morning, clouding and raining and snowing Sat. afternoon
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6500 ft / 1981 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:WIllow Lake, thenNorth Slopes over Challenger
    Start Trailhead:Willow Lake Trailhead  7665 ft / 2336 m
    Time:5 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5365 ft / 1635 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:North Slopes
    End Trailhead:Willow Lake Trailhead  8800 ft / 2682 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Challenger & Kit Carson (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Kit Carson Mountain2010-06-266500 ft / 1981 m
Total Trip Gain: 6500 ft / 1981 m    Total Trip Loss: 5365 ft / 1635 m

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