| Ellingwood Point -- Doggie Style
Baz Agastus- (Me, Yes I am a dog)
Mountainmicah83- My Daddy
Bruton- My pseudo uncle
South Face (Couloir) Direct
Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Baz the dog, and I am just over 2 years old. I have climbed several 14ers in all seasons of the year and really consider myself to be a tough guy and a crazy good mountaineer. As you can see, I even carry my own pack with my own food and supplies. I was nice enough to carry some beer for my dad as well.
My dad and I loaded up in the car on Saturday morning at about 6:30 AM and headed to Uncle Matt's house. We picked up Uncle Matt and were on the road from our hometown of Colorado Springs by 7 AM. A couple of hours later we arrived in Walsenburg only for me to find that I am left in the car while the humans went for some breakfast at the Alpine Rose Café. They sought it fitting to eat there with a name including "alpine."
A good while later we were off towards Lake Como road. Because my dad is cheap, he only has a 2wd Jeep and it rained the day before, we were able to drive to 8,800'. I prefer to walk anyhow so this was ok. Daddy and Uncle Matt readied their 70+ lb packs with their Skis, Boots, Boards, and Camping gear.
The rough few miles of Como road went by quickly. The road is passable to Jaws 1 and perhaps a bit farther but definitely not to Jaws 2. I imagine that by Memorial weekend, most vehicles should be able to make it to within ¼ mile of Como lake. Eventually, we got our first view of Little Bear.
With the arduous hike, Uncle Matt got kinda tired. I tried to get daddy to just leave him because we were within ½ mile of our goal for the day of Como Lake. I like to whine whenever the humans try to take a break because I don't need breaks. I can just go and go forever.
Upon arriving at the lake, we found the cabin to be unoccupied. There were 2 other gentlemen present and they had their own set up. They came in together but one was planning for Blanca the following day and the other Little Bear solo. Daddy and Uncle Matt setup their gear in the cabin and cooked some lunch while I went out exploring and also trying to get the other people present to play fetch with me. I like to go find sticks and drop them in front of people and bark repeatedly as annoying as possible until someone throws the stick for me. Eventuallly, two guys from Nebraska arrived at the lake. They were going for a higher camp. Daddy and Uncle Matt invited them to stay in the cabin and hang out for the night. We hung out for a while on the north side of the lake with them before coming back to the cabin. I didn't realize that the frozen white field was actually a lake and went sprinting across. Almost to the other side one of my feet punched through the ice. I was so scared. After that I was much more careful walking around the area.
We gathered a ton of dead wood around the area for a fire. We had 6 humans and I was the only dog. Awweeeesommmme. After gathering the wood, we snapped a cool photo of Little Bear.
While Daddy was snapping the photo, Uncle Matt tried to steal his beer. Daddy got mad and took Uncle Matt down.
We dug a hole in the snow and got the fire going. We all sat around telling stories and cooking dinner. I mostly just bugged everyone and explored more with the remainder of the time. Don't tell my daddy but I was actually hunting for bears. I really want to kill one with my own teeth someday.
Eventually, everyone went to bed down. There were 2 extra sleeping pads that stay in the cabin and I got to sleep on one.
Originally, we wanted to wake up at 0500 and step off at 0600. We got off about 45 minutes late. Now it was a race against the sun melting our route to the summit. Our planned route was basically a standard route to the summit of Ellingwood, a ski descent with a traverse and then if there was time to go to Blanca and ski there. Daddy wanted the south face direct route that others went south of 2 weeks prior due to the large nasty cornice at the top. He had decided against it due to the last 200' before we even saw it because he was worried that I couldn't do it. We stepped off with daddy skinning and uncle Matt booting and carrying his snowshoes in case he needed them for the return. Anyhow, 20 minutes later, we got our first views of Ellingwood with a beautiful cloud passing by.
The next photo is a zoomed in shot of pretty much exactly the conditions we were expecting.
Next is a photo of our route that we ended up taking for the day. Red is Ascent, Blue is descent. Notice we went for the south face direct after all. More to come on that.
Arriving at 12,600' daddy saw the South Face Direct Route up closer and wanted it bad. With little effort, he talked uncle Matt into it. Here is a pic of me leading the way. I knew I could do it but I was a little worried about them. They aren't nearly as fast as me and I have built in crampons on my feet. Notice how the shade is still in the upper couloir. Daddy removed his skis and Uncle Matt dropped his snowshoes.
Arriving at the bottom of the upper Couloir, I snapped this picture of my Dad.
With only about 600' or so, we were off up to the couloir. We were kicking steps to about as deep as our shins and the layers of snow proved to be super consolidated. We weren't worried about the cornice at the top too much. Everything was giving us signs that the snow was very stable.
Dad and Uncle Matt were much slower than I would liked to have gone. I did quite a few circles around those feeble humans. Uncle Matt was close in Tow. He and daddy swapped leads every couple of hundred feet of elevation.
Before getting too high in the Couloir, we snapped this last shot of Blanca.
The last 100' or so of the couloir was very hard crampon type snow. Dad and Uncle Matt were too stubborn to don their crampons. They spend a good bit of time kicking steps and driving axes to gain the top of the couloir to a frozen solid hump (not cornice). I went ahead to the top of the couloir to peer into the valley to the east. Ohhhhh I am an exposure nymph. I love it! Finally, they caught up. From here we could taste the summit. We began our mixed scramble after proceeding up the "cornice."
Almost to the summit now, we peered over towards Blanca to see how our Husker Fan Friends were doing. We saw no tracks and figured they bailed. Suddenly, I saw them about 150' below the Ellingwood summit on the other side and began to bark. This caught Daddy's and Matt's Attention and they noticed them too.
At the very end, there was a snowbridge connecting the ridge to the summit proper. A fall to the right would probably be too steep for a successful self arrest and a fall to the left would not feel very good either. Daddy went first with me following and then Uncle Matt last. Daddy was slow to move across this crux of the route and I just pranced right across. Notice I was smart enough to walk on the side with the least consequences (East). Here is each of us crossing this bridge.
The weather was absolutely perfect on the summit. No wind and even the humans went shirtless for a while. While I continued to explore around the summit, my humans kicked back with cigars and enjoyed the beauty. Visibility was so great, we could see the crestones, Lindsey, Spanish peaks, and even the Back of Pikes Peak.
While they rested, I snapped this pic of Blanca
Eventually it was time for summit photos:
An hour or so later, the Corn Fed Nebraska boys arrived with terrified looks on their faces. It was both of their first "steep" snow climbs and one of them, it was his second peak. Nebraska to 14,042 is a long way. They asked for our advice on a descent route and any pointers on descent techniques. We all hung out for a while and they shared some subway with us. By this time, we figured the snow was going to be too soft and sticky on Blanca and an enjoyable ski so we decided against it.
We got a group photo sporting the Huskers colors:
Dad and Uncle Matt wanted to ski their ascent route as it didn't have that dust layer that was creating mashed potatoes on the surface but they decided to go the other way to provide some pointers to our new friends. Dad loves to ski these mountains but doesn't have that urge to ski off the true summit if there isn't snow. With about a 100' mixed downclimb, dad and Uncle Matt provided our friends with a few route pointers and told them if they feel scared to just face in. Now time for the ski descent and Dad's camera runs out of batteries. Bummer. Uncle Matt ended up snapping some of the photos.
Daddy took off first but he was kind of slow and apprehensive. He was not trusting his skis after his foolish experimentation on Culebra a few weeks prior with Mountaineering boots that don't hold ski edges.
Two turns later, he was gone with me and Uncle Matt in Hot Pursuit…
They think they are fast skiing, well let me tell you something. I had no problem keeping up. I just made a beeline for the bottom. I love to sprint at warp speeds. After looking up one last time to make sure our friends were fairing well, we continued on. Arriving back at Uncle Matt's snowshoe stash, the snow was very creamy and slushy on the top layer but was still holding solid a few inches below. Daddy was able to release his heels and push through the flatter sections and uncle Matt was able to boot it. A short time later, the three of us arrived back at our camp by Como Lake. I hadn't had enough exercise yet so while Dad and Matt were packing gear, I was trying my hardest to get them to throw some sticks for me. We waited for our friends to make it back before bidding our farewells and carrying our packs back to the car at 8,800'. On the exit, we snapped these final two landscape photos.
NOTE: IF YOU ARE A CANINE LIKE MYSELF, PLEASE DO NOT THINK YOU CAN DO WHAT I CAN DO. JUST LIKE HUMANS, I HAD TO START WITH EASIER PEAKS IN SUMMER CONDITIONS AND LEARN THE BASICS. YOU HAVE TO LEARN WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND COULD GET INTO REAL TROUBLE IF YOU DON'T LEARN FIRST.
Until Next Time, like daddy always says…
See you at the TOP.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):