Challenger Point  
Condition Updates  
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-15, By: jordanthebuff
Info: The hike to the lake is wonderful, but once you start going up towards the ridge, it gets rough. It's all mostly loose rock/gravel basically the entire way. It's classified as a difficult class 2, but if you don't take the best line, you can end up doing some class 3 moves. In addition, some remaining snow melt along the rock rib made some of the rocks wet and extra slippery, so be careful. I definitely felt better doing this with a helmet. The notch to summit portion is wonderful, really great ridge hiking! 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-11, By: madmattd
Info: RMFI's excellent trail runs from the lake to ~12,550' as of this report. I inquired and from what I understood, it sounds like long-term it is planned to run until ~13,000', near where the (currently wet from snow melt) slabs take over. Above that the current routes will still be the only options. In the meantime the 12,550'-13,000' section is eroded, loose herd paths on somewhat steep slopes. Up higher is an exercise in patience; either you deal with loose stuff on very steep slopes, or you stay more towards climber's right and scramble on varied-difficulty rocks). I ended up ascending a few tricky chimneys, on the descent I did my best on the looser sections as I didn't want to downclimb those chimneys. Wear a helmet above the traverse at 13,200', rocks will fall on you if others are above you, almost guaranteed (mostly small rocks at least). 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-05, By: miniarmstrong
Info: The new trail in progress from RMFI makes the lower section of Challenger Point (above the lake) straightforward. Consider donating to RMFI, as I lamented when their new trail ended. (Challenger is a slog). I had to cross one snowfield that was well-traveled and safe, not needing special equipment. Portions of the ascent had running water and made the looser sections challenging to descend and avoid causing rockfall to parties below. Helmet recommended. Summer conditions. 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-07-04, By: cougar
Info: Remaining snow can mostly be avoided, but melt from it ices up part of the route in the morning, and stays wet through the day. Trail crew was out, but said the new trail won't go to the ridge, just a few hundred more feet. Not much help, still nasty. Trail crew has a big camp, so camping spots were limited, even on a Wednesday night. Bear bag ropes are already set up. Expect your tent to be pretty close to a neighbor if you get there late or on a weekend. 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-06-20, By: CaptCO
Info: Step 1: switchback that booty Step 2: filter water above lake Step 3: deal with loose wet rock to saddle and class 3/4 moves to avoid snow Step 4: gain saddle and stay on ridge crest for bomber rock Step 5: summit challenger and look at all the people ascending from the avenue Good-ish conditions. Didn't need traction but used ice axe for epic glissade to avoid terrible rock (even on the “new” route” Be prepared for class 3 moves and tedious footwork 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-06-19, By: ClarkNunnelly
Info: Summited via North Slopes -- Some snow in the basin and makes route finding difficult. Had about 4 snow crossings in the gully area but easily navigated. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: Aphelion
Info: Descended the North Slope around 1130AM, the upper few inches were getting sloppy but overall appeared firm and consolidated. Snow still covers the majority of the route above the basin floor. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2020-05-10, By: stickmann
Info: The Willow Lake approach is almost entirely clear of snow and there are only a few short sections of snow to navigate. I planned on doing Kirk Couloir but there appeared to be slide activity near the bottom, big blocks of snow detached from the bottom layer, so I decided to try the North Slope. There is snow covering the North Slope route and I needed crampons + ice axe. I started late and made the decision to turn around due to snow quality concerns. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-10-21, By: Sidius303
Info: Snow was blowing very hard and the chill before daylight was punishing. A lot of the loose rock was covered by a good 6 inches and 2 feet while others were just icy. Had I not had my dog and better gear I might have made it the whole way. The wind was also quite relentless with dry snow pelting me in the face. This is my first report so I hope it helps someone. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-09-10, By: tcphoto87
Info: Hiked KC and Challenger on Monday for my 34th and 35th 14ers. We did it all in one go. Started just before 3am. The Willow Lake approach felt like it went by real fast but we got there around 6:30 right as the sun was creeping up. The absolute worst part of the hike is the loose section heading up to the ridge around 13400+ (Photo 16 in the route description) I felt like I screwed my knee up there and was a lot more slow going to the summit but made it around 10:20. Didn't encounter any snow or ice along the trail even tho NOAA called for snow the night before. Perfect clear day! 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-08-21, By: supranihilest
Info: Aside from the numerous creek crossings, all of which can be done without getting wet, the entire route is dry. There's a trail crew working on the lower third of the route above the lake and the new trail is fantastic compared to the old one. Once you're past the trail the route becomes braided and extremely loose. Use caution not to kick rocks down, especially if there are people below you. 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-22, By: Hershel
Info: The route is in good condition. There are several snowfields that still must be crossed, but no gear was necessary. That being said, don't miss the 'easiest' route across them. There is a final snow field crossing before you gain the last ~400 feet of gain below the ridge. There are many lines, either from trailblazers or the way the route has perhaps changed as the snow has melted. The way we took was the shortest line and it currently has good steps kicked in. I'd call the moves from rock to snowfield and snowfield to rock perhaps dicey depending on your comfort level and leg length. If you're not familiar with the route, just take your time. 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-14, By: davisrice4
Info: Mosquitos!!! Buy a bug net. You will be much happier with it. Bug spray doesn't faze em. Trail up challenger is in good shape (thanks to all the workers up there, tell them thanks!), still a few snowfields to cross, but good steps are in place and traction/floatation is unnecessary. Nearly full summer conditions. 
Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-14, By: Dose
Info: Still two snow fields to cross. Makes route finding a little challenging but just stay just right of the gully and we had no issues. 
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Route: Various
Posted On: 2019-06-28, By: pfiore1
Info: I can't title the peaks described as a group so I just picked one, plus Challenger has the most snow coverage on the north side, after the fact I realized I probably should've labeled it as Crestone Peak since I provided more info on that than Challenger, oh well. Here are four photos and brief conditions for northern aspects of Kit Carson, Challenger, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and immediate surrounding peaks. The northern aspects of these peaks obviously have more snow than the southern aspects which I showed in a previous report for Challenger and Kit Carson, but to be very clear the southern aspects are also far from dry. Expect average April Sangre conditions for awhile longer. We had a technical rescue on Crestone Needle's Ellingwood Arete on Sunday June 23 because much more snow was encountered than expected. And I'm sure most of you are aware of the tragic accident that occurred in between and on the south aspect of Challenger and Kit Carson. Even sections where it looks dry, there are pockets of snow in crevices that may not be seen until you're on them. Take caution and prepare for snowier conditions than typical. Plan accordingly and be prepared to stay the night if needed. Ultra-light climbers need not apply. Pat Photo #1 North aspect of Crestone Needle to the left, Peak right of that followed by Columbia, Kit Carson and Challenger, #2 closer up north aspect of Kit Carson and Challenger (sorry the windshield frame is in the way of the OB Couloir but if you're wondering it's still in), #3 Crestone Peak's NW Couloir which is mostly, almost all, still in with a few thin sections, but note the approach to it is mixed, #4 a partially obscured by-the-window-frame view of both Needle and Peak but it should still give you a good idea of the snow from high, note the snow field on the Arete just below the Headwall and also the last couple hundred yards in the 3rd Class gulley to the summit is also mostly in snow. 
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Route: Willow Creek Approach
Posted On: 2019-06-24, By: mtosgood
Info: Only a few small spots of snow left on the Willow Creek approach. North Slope route up Challenger packed with snow starting at 12,225 feet. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-06-13, By: dweiss2
Info: Trail along the approach is pretty dry until after the river crossing, then it is very brief intermittent snow fields. Once in the basin, the trail is flowing with water and a muddy mess in places. Many campsites dry and available, and some fresh rope for hanging food. Forest Service told me there was a nosey bear in the area, so take full advantage of that. Snow from ~12,600 up. Some snowfield crossings above Willow Lake. Crampons are very helpful and recommended, but not necessary depending on your level of comfort. Don't bother with snowshoes, just show up early! Unfortunately the Avenue to Kit Carson is still unstable. I got to the large snowfield and found a 1-finger hard (saturated in places) slab about 4 inches thick that was only partially supportive over a 4-finger hard layer and it appeared to get softer as I dug down. I'll upload a picture with the troublesome area highlighted. Other than that, the avenue is climbable as far as I could see. Give the Avenue another week or 2 and it should be ready. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-06-10, By: wintersage
Info: Went up the North Slope and came down the Kirk Couloir. Snow starts in patches from 11,000ft and then you have continuous coverage all the way from the camp sites to the summit. In the morning the snow is good, kickstepping is good, and the crampons bite but within a few hours, the sunlight and general heat of the day turns the snow into a slushy postholing nightmare. Stream crossings are all flooded, I brought sandals and a towel to safely cross them. The crossing right before the camp site is especially deep and rapid. Right before the start of the standard route, at the willows around the lake, the crossing is submerged (picture 1), so you'd have to take a small detour around it. On the north slope, running water could be heard under the snow until about 12,700ft. Snow was quite slick even with crampons, but climbing was doable. The Kirk Couloir had much better snow. The summit ridge cornices were still holding up but they are starting to get mushy. None of them looked dangerous or ready to fall off, however. Start of the Avenue still looked snow covered. Edit: sorry for the horrible picture quality, I compressed them to reduce the size but can re-upload higher res versions if needed. 
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Route: Kirk Couloir
Posted On: 2019-06-03, By: Wildernessjane
Info: Summited Challenger Point via Kirk Couloir on 6/2. The last conditions report includes a lot of detailed info on the approach so I won't include that here. Snow was continuous to the summit. We measured a max angle of around 55 degrees with a pretty sustained section of 45-50 degrees though you could find an easier line. The snow was pretty variable, some firm snow but mostly kicking steps. With an early start, the snow was plenty supportive though. Maybe a little better for skiing than climbing still. 
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Route: North Slope
Posted On: 2019-06-03, By: bludwig
Info: Willow Creek approach is very dry below 10,500 then the snow is about ankle to knee deep most of the way to the lake. The lake is frozen-over but melting. Didn't put on traction until near the camping spots before the lake. Snow was hard packed, but snowshoes are recommended; especially passed the lake. Cornices along the final approach are all blown in and solid, the route is very steep and slick but very doable with good traction. I lost both of my snowshoes glissading down the route so finders keepers. Picture 1 is the lake. Picture 2 is part of the approach with Kit Carson in the background. Picture 3 is the approach up to Challenger summit. Picture 4 is the final summit approach with a group of goats. You can see the Avenue in the background, it is still holding a lot of snow. 
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