Kit Carson Peak Route Guide – A Challenging, Captivating 14er
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.
Kit Carson Peak Route Fast Facts
Kit Carson Peak Route Guide
Start out by following my Challenger Point Route Guide to summit the peak successfully. Check the weather conditions from the top before continuing on to the Kit Carson Peak route. From the summit of Challenger Point, you can see much of the route to come ahead.
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.
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.
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.”
Standing at the notch, continue along the avenue, aiming for another notch further along. This section of the Kit Carson Peak route doesn’t surpass Class 2 scrambling.
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.
As you near the large rock rib, turn left and begin to climb the gully up towards the summit ridge section of the Kit Carson Peak route.
Stick to the center of the broad gully and follow carins for the easiest path up through this area. It shouldn’t exceed Class 3 difficulty if you stay on route.
Turn to the left to climb through several rout outcrops as you near the top of the gully.
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.
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 Route Guide.
It’s important to have access to a good topographical map of the Kit Carson Peak route during your climb. I recommend downloading this on your phone or other digital device, and printing out another paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics.
You should check the wether multiple times, from multiple sources in the days leading up to your hike or climb. Here are several dependable mountain weather sources for the Kit Carson Peak route.
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.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.