| Mornin' Scramble - Southwest Ridge
Ellingwood Point (14,042')
Partner(s): Susan Paul
Trailhead: 10,600 feet along Lake Como Road (near Jaws 1)
Route: Southwest Ridge
Distance: Approx. 4.0 miles (from Lake Como)
Elevation Gain: Approx. 2,200' (from Lake Como)
With the great weather forecast we decided to tackle Ellingwood Point and hopefully make it the last time we have to drive/hike up that rough Lake Como Road. Not that I don't love the place, but Susan's been up there 4 times now and I've been up there 5, so it would be good to get this behind us.
We were planning on meeting our 14ers.com friends, globreal and lostsheep5, up at Lake Como Saturday afternoon as they were going to be up there Friday to climb Little Bear. We left Colorado Springs and stopped at Subway in Walsenburg for lunch where we ran into a bunch of other friends from Colorado Springs that were also planning on heading down to do Ellingwood and Blanca on Sunday – small world!!
To make life a little easier we took the Jeep again for this trip to get up to 10,600 feet and help lessen the hike up the road in the hot afternoon. Just as we arrived at Jaws 1 and parked we met paulperea and his dad, Andrew, who were also going to be camping with us at Lake Como. I was so glad to get up to Jaws 1 since just backpacking the final 1 ¾ miles to Lake Como was a bear in the afternoon heat. We located globreal and lostsheep5 (actually, we ran right into Eric running around in flip-flops) and pitched camp near them on the southwest side of the lake, and after pumping some water did a short hike up toward the waterfall to get an idea of where to head up to start Ellingwood's southwest ridge for the next morning. After some visiting and dinner it was off to sleep.
Early the next morning it was nice and clear out. Great! After some breakfast of hot oatmeal and fig newtons, we all left right on time and headed up to the end of the 4 wheel drive road where we picked up the narrow dirt single track trail that leads to the waterfall, where you climb steeply along its west side to get up to Blue Lakes. Here we left the group, as they were heading up Ellingwood Point via the south face route while Susan and I were looking forward to the southwest ridge route. I'd done this route a number of years ago and really enjoyed it and it's the only way I will climb Ellingwood. From the western most Blue Lake we crossed the creek, hiked to the base of a steep talus/boulder slope, and stopped briefly to put on helmets. Then we hiked up the loose slope, to the first small cliff face above us, where we wrapped around its west side and hiked up a bit more to gain a ramp that ascends to the right and ultimately gains the southwest ridge. On the ramp the steepness relents although the loose rock and dirt remain.
Gaining the ridge is the worst part of doing this route (not counting the descent), and it's still not bad. Once on the ridge you just start hiking northeast on wonderfully solid rock. Stay up high on the ridge crest for the most part and you'll be fine. There are a few airy narrow spots and short knife edges along the way, and several cool towers to climb up and over, but the route can easily be kept at class 3 the whole way. It is very exposed in some places, so if you're not comfortable with that this may not be the route for you. But, it is solid and there are plenty of hand and footholds - Susan's only 5'5" and she had no problems at all finding stuff to hang onto.
The ramp narrows dramatically as it approaches the ridge.
However it also gets more solid and easy to follow for the most part.
Gaining the southwest ridge on Ellingwood. Photo by Darin.
Ready for your 5am scramble? There's a summit at the end.
Let the fun begin!
Getting – and staying - high is the rule of thumb on this route.
Because you don't want to end up down there.
But if you do choose to skirt a sketchy section be sure to find something solid to hang onto.
And get back up onto the ridge as soon as you can.
What lies ahead.
It just keeps getting steeper – just the way I like it!
Not to mention more exposed....
Why is she always following me?
If you look closely you can see Earl gaining on us!
The biggest step of the route, but plenty of handholds.
The southeast side of the ridge gets extremely exposed as you near the summit.
No, we can't take a break here.
Reservation not required. Standing room only.
You may have to put it in 4WD at this point.
Looking back at Darin and Earl in the shadow of the summit.
I love doing this ridge as there is lots of scrambling and it's a great way to kick off the scrambling season. Shortly after arriving on the summit d_baker and Earl, two of our friends from Colorado Springs, joined us. They had also done the ridge, and Darin was nice enough to send us some photos he took of us up there, the next day. We relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful weather. We thought about heading over to Blanca Peak, but we both had done it before at least once with the most recent ascent just a few months ago so we really weren't that crazy about doing it again so soon.
Can you think of a better way to start the day?
"You guys are #1." Thanks Darin!
Instead, we headed down Ellingwood on the standard route, and waited for our friends in the basin below since they had already done Ellingwood and were headed over to do Blanca Peak. The route down Ellingwood stunk with all the loose rock and now I know why I don't like this peak so much. The funniest part was coming down we met another 14ers.com member who hollered "Hey you're that gal in the sports bra… Susan and - and - DHatfield!" That just made us laugh. Too funny. We ran into some other people we know from the Springs but hadn't talked to in a while, Suzey and Sam, so we took a break to catch up with them, and after lostsheep5 and globreal caught up with us we all continued on down together.
Here's a shot of the ramp you need to take to gain the ridge, that I took in the daylight, on the way out.
Paul and his dad showed up at camp shortly after that.
It was great hiking with you Susan and look forward to the next trip. Oh congrats on #51!! (or #52? which list are you using this week anyway?)
It was great hiking and visiting with you globreal, lostsheep5, paulperea and Andrew. Hopefully we will be able to do another hike together sometime.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):