Matt Mahoney's 2001 Colorado Vacation

Blanca, Ellingwood

Aug. 6-7, 2001. It took 2 days to climb Ellingwood Point and Blanca. On the first day, I started late in the morning at 8500 ft. on the Lake Como jeep road and climbed to Crater Lake at 13,000 ft, but was turned back by storms and camped at the bottom. This hike took 7 hours. The next day I started earlier, climbed Ellingwood Point (14,042 ft) by the class 3 southwest ridge, then Blanca (14,345 ft) by the standard northwest ridge.

Ellingwood's southwest ridge is a spectacular route of corner slabs at a sustained 45 degree (class 3) pitch, followed by narrow, exposed ridges and steep boulders. The crux move is dropping into a steep gully after traversing its southwest subpeak on a narrow shelf.

The Blanca group seen from Lake Como road in the San Luis Valley. Later, where the road starts to climb, it is known as Colorado's toughest road. An ordinary Jeep will not make it over the 3 ft. high rock ledges. With monster tires and/or a winch, the 5 mile trip takes 2.5 hours, as long as it takes to walk (which is what I did).

Lake Como (11,740 ft) with Little Bear (14,037 ft) behind it. I did not climb this dangerous class 4 peak.

Ellingwood Point (left, with notch to left of peak), Blanca (center), and the class 5.0-5.2 ridge to Little Bear (right), seen from above Lake Como.