Climbing Kit Carson Peak – Route Guide, Maps and Advice
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 climbing Kit Carson Peak with my Route Guide below.
Climbing Kit Carson Peak: Fast Facts
Climbing Kit Carson Peak Via Challenger Point
Start climbing Kit Carson Peak by following my Challenger Point Route Guide to summit the peak successfully. Check the weather conditions from the top before continuing to the Kit Carson Peak route. From the summit of Challenger Point, you can see much of the route to come ahead-looking east.
From the summit, turn towards Kit Carson to the east. You will take the ridge before dropping down to the left to the beginning of the Avenue – a 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. This is the most exposed part of climbing Kit Carson Peak.
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 with 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 climbing Kit Carson Peak 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 cairns 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 route 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 and finish climbing Kit Carson Peak.
Once on the summit, enjoy your accomplishment! Check the weather to make sure you get back to the tree line before noon thunderstorms arrive. I hope you enjoyed my Kit Carson Peak Route Guide. Safe travels on the trail, and good luck climbing Kit Carson Peak!
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.
The right gear makes climbing Kit Carson Peak much easier, and will also help you stay safe. Here’s a rundown on what you should bring with you for this difficult route.
Start with a good pair of hiking boots (I recommend them over shoes due to their ankle support). Here are six of my favorite hiking boots for 14ers.
You should also have the ten essentials with you during your hike and climb. These are the key pieces of gear needed to stay safe and respond to emergencies in the mountains. As Kit Carson Peak is a difficult mountain, it is best to be prepared. Here is a refresher on the topic.
A backpack will help you store your ten essentials as you go on your hike. For day trips, aim for a bag between 15 and 30 liters in capacity. If you’re climbing Kit Carson Peak over several days, you will want a bag with 45-65 liters. Here are some of my favorite options.
Learn more about packing for a 14er here.
Camping near Kit Carson Peak:
There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along the road up to the upper trailhead ideal for those climbing Kit Carson Peak. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.
Lodging near Kit Carson Peak:
There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Crestone and Alamosa, perfect for those climbing Kit Carson Peak.
The area around Kit Carson Peak is still largely pristine, but more and more people are visiting it every year. Help us preserve this spectacular ecosystem by following these important Leave No Trace practices while climbing Kit Carson Peak.
- Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
- Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
- Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
- Urinate off trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
- Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
- Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.
Safe travels, and good luck climbing Kit Carson Peak!
More info coming soon.
Climbing Kit Carson Peak 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.
Climbing Kit Carson Peak is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.