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 Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
 Post Date:  10/17/2011
 Date Climbed:   10/15/2011
 Posted By:  emohr

 Blanca, Ellingwood, Lake Como   

Here's my first 14er trip report! Any words of advice will be greatly appreciated

So for the readers who just want the meat and potatoes of the trip here they are:
-Attempted Blanca/Ellingwood
-Got to about 8,800' in my stock Nissan X-Terra on the dreaded Lake Como road
-No snow up until Lake Como
-Snow was no deeper than a foot, but was pretty hard to progress through
-Blanca Summit was pretty snowy, and with the snow, crampons are definitely recommended
-Coldest temperature that I recorded was 48 degrees, but it was an unusually warm weekend
-No signs of bears


And now for a more detailed report!

I'm a sophomore at the Colorado School of Mines and had fall break from October 15-18 and decided I'd been studying too much and needed some 14er in me. So my roommate and I made the decision to head down to Lake Como on a Friday afternoon, hike that night, hike the next day, and play at the Sand Dunes on Sunday.

We left Golden at about 3 and got to the Lake Como road at about 11, and drove to about 8,800' before my X-terra couldn't go any further. There's one pretty eroded dip before the "Jeepers Creepers" sign that is pretty rough, but if you can get by that, the road is pretty tame for the next mile or so. We started hiking at about midnight, and had headlamps and the moon was just about full, so it was providing some great light.
Image
What Lake Como Road looked like at night

Image
Start of our journey


The next day we woke up a bit later than we planned. We wanted to wake up at about 7, but slept in till noon. The tree we were under kept us from seeing much of the sunrise, so we slept in a little late.
Image
Aspen Trees from our Campsite


The hiking up Lake Como was a lot more rough than I expected. Very rocky, very muddy, very wet. It was pretty grueling to get up to the lake.
Image
First sight of Lake Como with Little Bear in the background


Up above Lake Como, the snow became deeper and the weather got colder.
Image
One of the lakes above Lake Como


We got to a large exposed rock face when we ran into a couple that told us that we have about another 2 hours to go before we get close to the Blanca summit. It was about 3 at this time, and the sun was setting fast. I may be young and new to 14ers, but not young enough to make a dumb decision and let summit fever get the best of me. "No summit? No shame. Forced summit? No Brain."
Image
Little Bear

Image
Ellingwood and Blanca


The hike back down was pretty easy and had an amazing view of Little Bear from the Lake and one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.
Image
Sunset coming down from Como

Image
Gorgeous Lake Como reflection

Overall, I would give the trip an 8. It was really good weather, great scenery, and an all around great hike. However, not reaching a summit is pretty disappointing. But overall a great 14er experience

On the difficulty scale, I would say that this was about an 8. It was tough hiking on the road, and it's just so far! Keep in mind however that I've only done 11 14ers, so what I call an 8 might be quite a bit different from what someone else with more or less experience calls an 8

Thanks for reading and hopefully I'll be able to get some more reports up in the future!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (9)
zdero1


Awesome!     2011-10-17 01:53:40
Amazing photos. Smart decision making. Sounds like a successful trip.


painless4u2


Great Report and Pictures!     2011-10-17 06:56:53
Good move avoiding ”summit fever”. The Blanca group are some of my favorites-such a beautiful place. If you want to try Ellingwood and Blanca without the Como road, take a look at one of my posts: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=8955&parmpeak=Ellingwood+Point&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include
It's a nice backpack in and you get the Zapata Falls as a bonus.


The Snowowl

Love the Pics     2011-10-17 15:50:26
Unfortunate that you didn't summit, but the experiance alone is worth the trip. I haven't had a chance to hike Blanca, but your photo's have inspired me to make the trip quicker.


mike_kadow


Disappointment, but a great experience!     2011-10-17 16:54:58
Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing. Am looking forward to attempting it some day.
Talk about disappointment, I'd read how people climb/hike the wrong mountain. Never thought it'd happen to me. Well, it happened last week. I was disappointed at first, but overall just glad to be out there.
These mountains won't be going anywhere soon; am always looking forward to the next one!
Happy hiking!


davidsteger

Awesome pics!!     2011-10-17 17:40:42
Way to get out of town and go for an adventure. I suffer at Mines right now too and I'm pretty sure hiking is the only thing keeping me sane. Awesome sunset picture


RJansen77


Little Bear Sunset     2011-10-17 20:21:48
All of those photos are great, but the one looking across Como to LB at sunset is spectacular. I didn't get Blanca my first time either, but it just means you and I have to go back to that spectacular area!


huffy13


Good decision!     2011-10-18 21:04:10
There is no shame erring on the side of safety. Nice photos with a good report. You can always go back...no problem there, huh?

School of Mines has a great looking campus, wish I had been more serious about looking at them back when I was getting letters from them on occasion. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.


JROSKA



Good decision     2011-10-19 00:18:08
It sounds like you made the right decision. The days are so short by now; no sense getting stuck in a bad place after dark, when it gets cold so quickly. While it's disappointing to not summit, you got some very nice pictures. And, you are now familiar with the Como road, and the trail. That familiarity will help you if you should decide to try it again next year.


colokeith


nice pics     2013-08-19 13:11:16
looking through old trip reports planning a trip up here myself.

love the pictures!!!



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