Kat Carson gets a new name: Columbia Point
Brief by Central Staff
Geography – July 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine
A peak in the Sangre de Cristo Range near Crestone has a new name: Columbia Point, to honor the space shuttle that crashed on Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
Columbia Point, 13,960 feet, is on the north side of 14,165-foot Kit Carson Peak. It had no formal name before, but was sometimes called “Kat Carson” or “East Summit.”
On the other side of the Kit Carson summit is 14,080-foot Challenger Point, named for the space shuttle which exploded shortly after take-off on Jan. 28, 1986.
Neither point qualifies as a separate mountain, which generally requires at least half a mile of separation and a dip of at least 500 feet between the high spots. Technically, Challenger and Columbia are spurs on the Kit Carson summit ridge.
The Columbia christening, which took only a few months as opposed to the usual two or three years, was instigated by Scott Parazynski, a physician and astronaut who had flown on four shuttle missions. He had climbed Challenger Point, and decided to petition the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for Columbia Point. He got support from the state government, as well as the Saguache County Commissioners. Other support came from the Colorado Mountain Club and the American Alpine Club.
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