| Blanca and Ellingwood- 6/13/10
Members of this hike include myself and Kevin8020. We met at my house at 9:15 in the morning, did all of our double checks for gear, and were off. Last minute, I remembered i almost forgot my Helmet. As i went to grab it, I found an old cowboy hat. I put it on, and Kevin made fun of me for the first time of the trip, it wouldn't be the last! We started the drive down and made a stop in Pueblo for a quick grocery store run. We grabbed several things that i will continue to take on climbs for the rest of my life; pre-hike gum, propel energy drink mixes, and a shockingly good late night camp snack, canned tuna with crackers!
Last week Kevin and I hiked Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre, and stopped in Gunnison for Subway. We aptly named it XL Subway, and anyone who has eaten there knows what I'm talking about. This week, we stopped at the Subway in Pueblo, which we found to be the opposite, small but very cozy, we liked it. It was added to our list of pre-hike rituals, which i think we have about 22 points on our "hiking code." The hiking code was developed by Kevin and myself after I hit the milestone of being Kevin's "most dedicated hiking partner," for hiking with him again and again even after a few scary incidents on Yale. Every hike since it was developed, it was common for us to add at least a couple of points to the list. All kidding aside, that list taught me a majority of what I now know about leading climbing trips.
First view of "Blanca Massif"
Medina for Sheriff!
Drive/Hike In - Lake Como "Rockpath"
As we drove into Lake Como, we were greeted by an odd group of cows literally right ON the road. The following picture was taken without zooming in, while Kevin nervously encouraged the cows to be "nice."
"Nice cow.. Nice cow.."
The cows were very cooperative and after being asked nicely to step aside, they did just that. Nice cows.
After making it past the cows Kevin was quickly cursing Lou Dawson. Apparently, in his book Dawson says portions of Lake Como Road is like driving across thousands of baby heads. It seems Kevin didn't appreciate his vivid style of descriptive writing. If my memory is correct, we made it about 1.8 miles into the road and decided we would just hike the rest. We parked in the shade, and Kevin had decided to try a new way of documenting our trips. Because so many family and friends are tired of hearing all these funny and entertaining stories, Kevin was asked to bring a video camera and record the "fun" stuff. So he did just that, starting with taping me, shirtless in my cowboy hat, putting a 40 pound backpack on. I was happy to entertain him. We soon decided whoever named this "thing" Lake Como road was crazy. So we did everyone a favor and officialy (meaning we decided to put it in the code,) named it Lake Como Rockpath.
After a long hike past 2 Jaws sections, we came to Jaws 2.5. Kevin asked if he could borrow my camera to take a picture of the plaque from the man that died driving it years ago. He said he wanted to show it to people and let them know that he wanted something like that if he ever died. We both agreed we wanted that and made the promise that we would do something like that for each other should anything ever happen.
RIP Leonard M Davis
The hike from the car to our camp took us 5 1/2 hours. We figured that for once, it might not be that much faster of a descent given the terrain on "Lake Como Rockpath." We reached our camp right off the shores of Lake Como, where we had a weird experience of fire making. There was ample tinder around, however good fire wood was hard to find.
The whole day the weather was very ugly. Thunder clouds threatened all day but it was just too cold to produce anything. We made quick work to the valley below the Blanca - Ellingwood traverse. Stopping several times looking at the gorgeous views of the San Luis Valley.
The trail was almost all snowfree until you get passed the highest lake, which i believe is Crater Lake, but there are so many small ones up there I am not really sure. We had decided to leave snowshoes at home, crampons at camp, and other than a few sections neither were needed. If your the kind of person who prefers crampons (or steep snow routes to scree,) then crampons are probably a good idea. For a short time we found ourselves slightly off route, and basically just decided to go up, knowing we would eventually intersect the route, and we did just that. This route was surprisingly exposed, but none the less fun. The weather still seemed ominous so we made a quick push to the summit, took summit pictures (cowboy hat and all), meet the fastest climber i've ever seen (seano,) and hiked back down to the connecting route of Blanca and Ellingwood.
My apologies, all the summit photos were taken on Kevin's Camera, which is shattered and probably still with SAR.
We hit the ridge after summiting Blanca and kept a really quick pace. Both because i was having good conversation with Seano and was trying to match his insane pace to keep the conversation going. It probably only took us about 45 minutes to do the connecting saddle and we were on top of Ellingwood Point.
We took pictures and got off because of incoming storms that were moving fast. On the way down we were greeted by combinations of groppel, hail, heavy winds, and beautiful sunshine.
At camp, we tried to get fire going with wet tinder to no avail. I gave up after about 15 minutes and Kevin stayed out for an extra 30 minutes doing everything he could to get a fire going for us. He never got it, but his perseverance was shown here.
The next day we set off for little bear. For obvious reasons i'm not calling it a trip report. I have pictures i will put up and i'll leave recommendations for gear and thats it. Sorry.
The rest is entirely optional, take my word for it and don't even try the hourglass this time of year, it's iced over and dangerous. Try the north face, several hikers had success there.
Blanca Peak from Ellingwood
Little Bear from Ellingwood
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):