Challenger Point - 14080' - Class 2
I thought it would be fun to go after a Sangre de Cristo Peak during field camp since we were in the area and I had never summitted anything here yet. Challenger Point fit the bill so I drove to the tiny town of Crestone and up the road to the trailhead for Willow Lake. It was a Friday evening and I wanted to camp at Willow Lake so I packed up and hiked the trail all the way to the lake right as the sun decided to set. Shortly afterwards I made it to the lake and quickly went to sleep. I was pretty tired from a long week of field mapping. The next morning I saw the sky was cloudy so I decided to just sleep in not expecting to make the summit. After a couple more hours of sleep though I thought what the heck..might as well just hike up as far as I can. So I rolled out of the tent and started hiking around Willow Lake. At first I was thrashing through terrible willows but I found a marked path through and got to the top of the big waterfall at the head of the lake. From there the hike up the upper valley was very gentle. I was armed with a couple sentences of route description but I clearly saw the way up. The deep couloir on Challenger Point still had snow in it and I even saw a climber on the snow nearing the summit. I stayed to the climbers left of the couloir by crossing it towards the bottom and scrambled the class 2 and 3 rock up to the summit. Right as I reached the top I had a commanding view of Kit Carson Mountain and the NE couloir on Crestone Peak. There were lots of puffy clouds but since it was already afternoon I wasn't too concerned. I saw the memorial for the astronauts who lost their lives on the summit and signed the ridiculous register and started down. I really wanted to glissade the couloir but didn't bring my ice axe (why, I will never know!) However I did have two trekking poles and I went against everything I was ever taught and slid down the steep snow. The run-off wasn't really good either but I managed to slide all the way down and stop right before the rocks. The remaining hike back to my tent and then back to the car was uneventful.