Peak:  Challenger Point (Unranked 14er)
 Route:  North Slope
 Range:  Sangre de Cristo
 Posted By:  supranihilest
 Date of Info:  12/21/2021
 Date Posted:  12/21/2021

Perfect conditions on Challenger today. You have two days before more snow arrives, get it while it's hot.

Trail to Willow Lake is broken now. Make sure to take the left branch at the split in the upper flats near the campsites, we went the wrong way in the morning. Rounding the lake is dry. We then took the standard route up, following the trail until about 12,700 feet before it ended in solid snow. At this point we just went straight up alongside the large wall along climber's right, most of which was on snow. The snow felt bomber and safe. Crampons were very useful, axes somewhat. Once we reached the upper cliffs we began scrambling up and left through whatever weaknesses looked easiest. Most of this was Class 2+ with maybe a little bit of Class 3, and all of it snowy. Eventually we were funneled next to the Pencil couloir and back on a climber's trail to the notch, where a short scramble took us to the summit ridge. I took my crampons off here since I could stick mostly to rock. We descended the standard route as well. The winter variation on the left side of the Pencil couloir is significantly more difficult, so get this one while it's easy if you can.

Flotation not needed. Traction very helpful (I preferred crampons since there was plenty of pure snow climbing). Ice axe somewhat useful, depends on comfort on steep, sometimes hard snow.

Photos (click for slideshow):
#1) From above the lake.#2) Initial climb off the talus field above the lake.#3) Scree field to gain middle part of route.#4) We stuck more or less to the right on the margin of exposed rock with snow.#5) Looking down from approximately half way.#6) Snow traverse below start of upper cliffs.#7) Looking down from above the start of the cliffs.#8) Some of the scrambling with upper notch visible.#9) More scrambling.#10) Summit ridge (actual summit a bit farther).#11) Kit Carson (with Avenue visible - not a ton of snow) and the Crestones.#12) Heading down.#13) Heading down - not as steep or difficult as it looks.#14) Long snow ramp most of the way down to the flats.

Comments or Questions
12/21/2021 23:51
was sweet! Great pics and a fantastic day!

Excellent report
12/23/2021 14:12
Excellent report with wonderful photographs of a beautiful place.

Got it while it was hot
12/24/2021 06:41
Thanks for posting this, I took advantage of your report and wandered up Challenger yesterday.

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