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Challenger Point
standard North Slope
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Difficulty:
 Difficult Class 2 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Willow Creek
Start:8,850 feet
Summit:14,081 feet
Total Gain:5,400 feet from TH
2,600 feet from Willow Lake
RT Length:13.5 miles from TH
4 miles from Willow Lake
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:8/2021
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:134 reports
Cell Signal:5 reports
Sheriff:Saguache: 719-655-2544
Forest:Rio Grande
Wilderness:Sangre De Cristo
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Take Colorado 17 to the town of Moffat. On the south side of town, look for the sign for Crestone and turn east on the "RD T" road. Drive approx. 11.5 miles to Crestone. Continue straight and turn left on Alder Street. Drive through town a bit and turn right onto Galena. Follow Galena out of town and it turns to dirt. Now on Forest Service road #949, it's approx. 2 miles to the trailhead.

Route

Taken from near the town of Crestone, 1 is a look at Challenger from the west. First, follow the Willow Creek Approach to Willow Lake. If you are camping, there are campsites below the lake. From the sites, follow the trail past a waterfall and onto a small hill next to the lake - 2. Turn left and hike up and out of the trees to reach a boulder field - 3. Continue through it as you approach the waterfall at the east end of the lake - 4, 5 and 6. Cross the stream above the waterfall and follow cairns and trail segments across the remainder of this flat area - 7.

Reach a trail junction and stay right for Challenger and Kit Carson - 8. Walk a bit farther before climbing right onto the base of Challenger's north slopes, at 11,900' - 9. Following the excellent trail, zig zag through ledges and a boulder field - 10. Near 12,300', the trail heads south out onto more gentle terrain - 11. Now, climb along the left side of a rock "rib" as the trail starts to become less maintained - 12. Stay near the rib and continue higher as the terrain steepens - 13, 14 and 15. Near 13,200' and near the upper portion of the rib, traverse left toward more difficult terrain. Weave up through rock slabs and leave the safety of the grass to reach the crux of the route - 600 feet of steep, talus-covered terrain - 16. The route can be confusing and dangerous so take your time. Look for cairns and you should be able to keep the difficulty under Class 3 - 17 and 18. Stay right of the snow-filled (into August) gully to your left and continue to a notch in the ridge - 19 and 20.

Pass through the notch ( 21 and 22), turn left and gain the summit ridge - 23. Follow the ridge southeast toward the summit - 24. Portions of the summit ridge are narrow so some people find it more comfortable to drop a few feet left to avoid the exposure. The last 0.1 mile becomes slightly steeper as you approach the summit - 26, 26 and 27.

Notes

IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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Topo #1:
Topo
Topo #2:
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