| The Devils Armpit...aka Lake Como Road!
So it is the weekend and had the itch to get some altitude! The previous weekend I met up with Matt (Matt Lemke) for the first time as we attempted to hike up Mt. Adams and successfully made it up Silverheels. After learning many lessons that weekend I was ready for my next adventure in the mountains. Matt and I discussed hitting up Blanca/Ellingwood Point the previous weekend so we decided now was the time.
Friday night I met Matt in Ft. Garland at around 6 PM and we had some pizza at All Gon's. We then headed out for the road to lead to Lake Como. After reaching the parking area at 8K we got our packs ready and started heading up the road at 7:30 PM. Now I knew from all the reading the road would gain 4K in elevation in 5.25 miles, which seems like a lot, and is! Of course it seems like an eternity when you are carrying 40+ lbs on your back and hiking a lot of it in the dark.
Here is a cool pic of the sunset as we are going up the road on 6/3.
After hiking for 4 hours we found a spot to pitch the tents and went to bed around 12 AM. We set the alarm for 5 so we could eat breakfast and be going by 6. The 5 hours just flew by and the alarm went off, Matt made oatmeal and I had a protein bar and we were going by 6:10. So just as we were getting started Matt and I were betting how much futher away we were from the lake, he said about 10-15 minutes, I guessed 5-10 minutes...2 minutes later we were there. We both got a good laugh out of it when we hit the lake so quickly. I was happy with where we pitched the tents anyway it was surrounded by trees which was nice since that evening it was pretty windy out.
After hiking for about 20 minutes we caught our first glimpse of Ellingwood Point.
As Matt and I were talking I had metioned to him I knew of 2 other people that were doing the same 2 peaks as us, Sylwia and Jay. After about 40 minutes of hiking we ran into them. I had a nice chat with Jay, sorry Sylwia we didn't get much chance to talk, and Matt kept going. After Jay and Sylwia stopped for a break I could see Matt nearing the ridge going towards Blanca. I parted ways with Jay and Sylwia when they met up with a couple they knew and began my attempt to catch up to Matt. Here is a picture of the summit of Blanca.
After working my way up a large snowfield I got over to the talus as quickly as I could, this was my first mistake. If I would have stayed on that snowfield I would have ran right into the trail, but because I bailed I never found the trail again. So instead I hiked/crawled up all the lose talus and scree for almost 1.2K ft and by the time I hit the ridge I was only 300 ft from the summit. This is where I ran into Matt as he was working his way down and going over to Ellingwood with 2 other hikers. I was spent at this point and told him that Blanca was going to be it for me today...a decision that I am not regretting. We agreed we would meet up back at the tents and parted ways. So about 10 minutes later I was at the summit enjoying the views, this was around 10:30 AM.
Here is my summit shot!
After resting up, taking pictures, and talking to fellow hikers from Colorado Springs for about 30 minutes I decided it was time to head back down. Looking down the trail I can see where I made my mistakes and followed the actual trail back down to the tents. I was able to shave off some time by glissading down a couple of the snow fields and because I lugged my snowshoes up all that road and to the summit I pulled them out to cross 1 snow field. Here is a pic of a waterfall I saw on the way down.
Eventually Matt caught up to me and said he needed to get his shoes off and dry off his feet so he kept on moving and I arrived back at the tents around 1:15 PM. We sat around and chatted about the day and then packed up camp. We headed back down the road around 2 PM and were back at the cars around 5:10 PM. Here is a pic of an old cabin we saw on our way down the road.
In closing I learned a lesson on how to pack better and lighter for these quick overnight trips. It makes for a long day(s) when you are carrying extra weight that really wasn't necessary.
So as for my title for the road...The Devils Armpit. I got that because the road is long, hairy in some spots, and it is a stinker to climb! Next time I will take a helicopter to the lake...I wish.
Ellingwood...I'll be back!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):