Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Kit Carson is a rugged mountain in the Sangre de Christo Range. It’s a long climb to the summit, requiring a trip over another 14er, Challenger Point, to reach it. Route-finding is the biggest single challenge. Many people have lost their way while descending down a gully only to enter dangerous, Class 4 and 5 terrain. Take your time, study the route well, and bring a map, compass and GPS. Plan your trip with my Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide.

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Kit Carson Peak Fast Facts

  • Standard Route: Via Challenger Pt.
  • Trailhead: Willow Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 6,250 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 14.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: Sangre de Christo

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Start out by following my Challenger Point Standard Route Guide to summit the peak successfully. Check the weather conditions from the top before continuing on to Kit Carson Peak. From the summit of Challenger Point, you can see much of the route to come ahead.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

From the summit, turn towards Kit Carson to the east. You can see much of the route ahead: You’ll take the ridge before dropping down to the left to the beginning of the Avenue – a long ledge that wraps around the side of Kit Carson. You’ll use this to find a gully on the other side that takes you up to the summit.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

As you near a low point, prepare to turn right to enter the avenue. There may be snow in this area, in which case traction is helpful.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Once on the avenue, follow the faint trail that runs along it. Aim for a notch at the top between Kit Carson’s massif and a small outcropping called “the prow.”

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Standing at the notch, continue along the avenue, aiming for another notch further along. This section doesn’t surpass Class 2 scrambling.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

About halfway down the avenue, look for a large rock rib just before the snow-filled gully. The gully just in front of it is your route to the top. Stop in this area to look around as it’s easy to get lost or disoriented on your descent through here.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

As you near the large rock rib, turn left and begin to climb the gully up towards the summit ridge of Kit Carson Peak.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

This shows the broad gully. Stick to the center and follow carins for the easiest path up through this area. It shouldn’t exceed Class 3 difficulty if you stay on route.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Turn to the left to climb through several rout outcrops as you near the top of the gully.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

As you near the summit continue towards the left and up. The terrain here softens a bit and climbing goes back to Class 2 difficulty. Pick a line up the final section to reach the summit.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Once on the summit, enjoy your accomplishment! Check the weather to make sure you get back to tree line before noon thunderstorms arrive. I hope you enjoyed my Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide.

Kit Carson Peak Standard Route Guide

Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

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