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Kit Carson Peak

At: Colorado, United States
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About: Kit Carson Mountain, or Kit Carson Peak, is one of the 51 fourteeners in the state of Colorado and lies in the Sangre de Cristo Range near Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle. The peak is named after the frontiersman Kit Carson. Most of the mountain was privately owned and part of the Baca Ranch, but was purchased along with the rest of the Baca Ranch to expand the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2004. Climbing One popular route on Kit Carson Mountain climbs from the west side of the range, starting at Willow Creek Trailhead (elevation 8,900 feet/2,713 m). This route first climbs Challenger Point, just to the west of Kit Carson. Climbing from the saddle between Challenger Point to Kit Carson peak involves crossing a path commonly called 'Kit Carson Avenue'. Total elevation gain for this route is 6250 feet, in a 14 mile (19 km) round-trip. Kit Carson can also be reached from the east side of the Sangre de Cristos via the South Colony Lakes access. (A four-wheel drive road currently provides relatively a high elevation trailhead; however this road may be closed permanently in the near future.) This route starts by using part of the trail for Humboldt Peak, and then traverses a ridge and plateau toward Kit Carson. A subpeak named Columbia Point (informally known as Kat Carson) is climbed on the way to the main summit. Kit Carson does not have any glaciers but it does have a semi-permanent ice patch on its rugged north face, which rarely melts even in the driest years (such as 2002 and 2006). During the summer Kit Carson and the neighboring peaks are hit with a diurnal cycle of thunder storms, which often form within a short time period; lightning occurs almost daily and has killed climbers as recently as 2003. The peak features complex terrain, which has misled climbers in the past, contributing to a death in the summer of 2006.


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