KC0HEV and I camped Friday night to the west of Lake Como in the woods. We did some serious cheating to get there. I took advantage of Bryan's (KC0HEV) driving skills and his ATV. Riding to the campsite along Lake Como "road" is easier than walking by a long shot, but it is still no easy feat. A good ATV with a good driver can make it, but there are many obstacles along the way.
On the way back we did see 5 modified Jeeps making the trip. It's amazing what those guys can do with a Jeep and money.
Word to the wise. If you plan to camp take bug spray. The mosquitoes are THICK … nearly flew away with all our stuff and our blood.
We got an early start, on the trail by 5AM. One team on the way to Little Bear passed our campsite around 4:45. We saw the female half of that team at noon on her way to climb the two remaining peaks after conquering Little Bear.
By 5:30 we were able to stow our headlamps. Even in the shade (that lasted until around 11AM) we could see just fine. We followed the standard route to Blanca according to 14ers.com. It was simply perfect. We took our time and made the summit at 8AM on the dot.
The real reason for this report is to let interested climbers know the traverse from Blanca to Ellingwood Point is much easier than you are expecting it will be. Here is a shot of the route we took. I have the GPS coordinates for the route. Shoot me a note if you want a few of them for reference.
From Blanca the face of Ellingwood appears to be daunting, steep and scary. But like all the 14ers, the closer you get, the easier it becomes. We downclimbed the Blanca saddle to a point a little further toward Ellingwood than the point where we hit the ridgeline on the ascent.
From there we could see a cairned trail heading toward Ellingwood that appeared to take us well above the mine (with the white detritus) mentioned on the route descriptions. There is a massive, scary notch on the ridgeline between Blanca and Ellingwood. This trail took vertically between the mine and that notch and then slowly ascended toward the Ellingwood Ridge.
It never really felt like we had to do much climbing until we were about 700 – 800 horizontal feet from the Ellingwood summit. Even that was straightforward. We never felt in danger -- except when we ventured to two of the smaller notches to look down on the impressive cliff face to the south.
From the summit
we attempted a downclimb a little more direct toward what would be a "Y" between the Blanca and Ellingwood trails. However, we never really found any good way at all. There was nothing but talus and scree with spotty evidence of trails here and there.
A Notch with a View
A Look At The Terrain to Ellingwood
If I had it to do over, I would do Blanca first (as we did), then take the lower traverse (as described), then I would return on that traverse back over the top of the mine and seek a way down the slope from the Blanca side of the mine.
GPS Track Log
Great day. We were back at camp by noon breaking down. Not a lot of wildlife to be seen: a couple of pika, a couple of marmot, a few mule deer, Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Brown-capped Rosy Finch, and one White Crowned Sparrow.