“One of the most prolonged class 3 scrambles on any Colorado 14er.”
— Tyler Prince
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Dogs will not be able to climb the class 3-4 terrain on the North Ridge.
From the rocky fields below the ridge to the ridge itself, this route is hard to navigate and requires many technical moves. It is not runnable.
From the top of the Willow Lake Trail
above Willow Lake's stunning cliffs, look southeast for a set of cliff bands. Your goal is to run just past these to the bottom of the North Ridge. For easier terrain, stay low in the basin and run along a stream to this point. Alternatively, talus-hop about 0.7 miles past the lake to reach the bands.
Pass the cliff bands on your right and start to make your way up a short, grassy slope. Outward Bound Couloir, a steep snow route, is up and to your left. Stay right of this and continue up the grass to reach to ridge in 100-200 vertical feet. Toward the end of this, the scrambling starts. Make your way up a steep face and continue to the right to find the true spine of the North Ridge. While there may be some class 4 moves before this point and after, most of the route can be kept to class 3.
Once on the spine, you've got 1000 ft of fun, exposed scrambling on solid rock ahead of you. It's a ton of fun, and there's no reason to spoil it suggesting specific routes. Simply scramble up to around 13,700 ft, where the ridge flattens briefly before ramping up again just below the summit.
As this is a prolonged, exposed, technical route, it is not a good intro to alpine scrambling. That said, it's nothing crazy and is a ton of fun. A definite improvement over Kit Carson's standard route via Challenger Point Trail
and Kit Carson Trail
Due to the grade, descending this trail isn't really an option, so beware that a) it's committing and b) you'll probably have to come back down via Kit Carson Trail
and Challenger Point Trail
Flora & Fauna
Once on the ridge itself, there's not much other than pika and marmots.