Monday, August 17, 2015

Humboldt - Kit Carson - Challenger Traverse

August 16, 2015

Humboldt Peak - 14,064 ft.
Point 13,290 - 13,290 ft.
Kitty Kat Carson Peak - 13,980 ft.
Kit Carson Peak - 14,165 ft.
Challenger Point - 14,081 ft.

14.8 miles rountrip
5 peaks - three 14er's, two13er's
7,916 ft elevation gain

With the intention of doing the entire Crestone Group in one day, Saturday didn't feel like a huge accomplishment - even though it was a long and fairly successful day. We started at the South Colony Lakes trailhead (9,900 ft.) around 3:40 am and finished 13 hours later, having only climbed 3 of our goal of five 14er's for the day.

We started with Humboldt Peak, which we reached around 6:30 am, and had terrific view of the range during sunrise. We made our way down and across the ridge towards 'Bears Playground' and the Kit Carson summits, but we both slowed down considerably - we straight bonked. We both hit a wall and we moved slowly the rest of the day. We climbed up and over Point 13,290, hiked across the high plateau of 'Bear's Playground' and traversed up and over towards Kitty Kat Carson following cairns the entire way. After summiting Kitty Kat Carson and descending a nasty 3rd class gully, we slowly traversed across the walkway that leads to Challenger Point (intentionally left Kit Carson Peak for the return) and climbed up the short class 2 terrain to the summit. It was already 11 am and we knew we had no shot at getting Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.

We took a much more direct route up Kit Carson Peak via low 5th class terrain on the south wall. We climbed up directly from 'the avenue' that traverses around the south face and onto the east ridge. 4th class terrain at the bottom transitioned to low 5th class and some mid-5th class climbing, all very exposed. It definitely woke us up and made the trip a bit more exciting.

From the summit of Kit Carson we made our way back to the "Bear's Playground' and picked our way down a loose and steep gully into the Colony Lakes basin and back to the trail. We reached the trailhead around 4:30 pm - exactly 13 hours later.

14.8 miles rountrip
7,916 ft elevation gain

Pre-game meal
Sunrise on Crestone Needle - taken from the flanks of Humboldt Peak 
This is what sleep-deprivation at altitude looks like
Panorama - Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak
Sunrise to the east from Humboldt
Chilly and windy ascent of Humboldt
Off route on the north side of Humboldt
Where my pants at?
Still off route
Sunrise summit shot 
Sunrise shadow shot 
Making our way across and over Point 13,290 
'Bear's Playground' - The only flat and non-rocky ground we found all day 
Looking down the ridge on our way up Kitty Kat Carson
Walking across the Avenue on Kit Carson - Kitty Kat Carson summit in the background, Challenger Point ahead
After summiting Challenger Point, we made our way back towards Kit Carson and decided to take a more direct route up 
We didn't anticipate that it would be this direct  
Re-tracing our path towards 'Bears Playground'
Afternoon storms moving in; us moving out
Giving our feet a rest despite the imminent storms 
Our emergency escape exit 
Down climb steep, loose gully or potentially get struck by lightning? 

Back to the valley before the rain started
Good stride by Schlife
Upper South Colony Lake, Humboldt Peak, drizzles
Lower South Colony Lake, helmet, drizzles 
Lightning, flowers, drizzle