Peak(s):  Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Post Date:  03/13/2011
Modified:  03/15/2011
Date Climbed:   03/12/2011
Posted By:  Manky

 Shark Attack   

A late after work start on Friday finds us at about 9200' on a decent switchback on the famed Lake Como road. A couple of beers and a final trim on Andy's new skins lead to a midnight bed call.

A clear warm night with a low of only 38 degrees prompted one of the easier starts to donning boots and gear in the dark. We finally rallied and left camp at 4:30 am. After an hour hike up the road, we came to the spot we can finally put our skis on and start touring.
Skin em up

Skins on, we moved smoothly up the valley and were greeted with some of the best views in the state. Skiing through the darkness my mind wonders how many mountain lions are in this valley? As the sun brightens up the morning, we were reminded why we do this.
Da bear

Road to somewhere

Moving higher in the basin, we were dwarfed by the awesome massif of Blanca and Little Bear.

Once in the upper basin, the ridge line seemed miles away due to the fickle nature of the snow on the ascent. Ski crampons would have been nice because the snow was too frozen to skin up the steep parts, but bottomless as a boot pack. After switching between skis and low crawling on hands and knees, we finally reach the ridge line. Here, we are greeted with the only constant in these mountains, the wind. We moved quickly up the ridge line since we could do some rock hopping.
Andy near summit.

Watch your step...

The views from the top of this range never cease to amaze me. Hoping to ski two peaks today, but Blanca looked a little thin and the wind slab looked worse on the north side where the sun could do little to help settling. The photo actually looks better than what I thought it looked in person. We watched a solo climber descending Blanca as we prepared for our descent. Evidence of only one natural avalanche is visible from the summit on a northeast face to our west that looks to have been loaded by recent wind event.
Blanca from Ellingwood

Took skis back over to sub summit just to the east of Ellingwood and clicked in. A few hop turns on the ridge led to some rocks and down stepping, followed by a fun run down and skiers left. Turns took a lot of energy and were not consistent. Stayed skiers left to avoid large gully runnels and terrain traps. Due to interesting trap door crust on the descent, the camera stayed in my pocket. I guess I need a helmet cam or something….
Break time

After a break below Little Bear, we pointed our skis downhill and let them run for the truck. This is the best part of skiing, a rapid exit towards the cooler. Heading down the final switchbacks to the truck, the desert landscape below can cause a skier to feel like a shark out of water. Got back to the truck around 2:30 pm and enjoyed a beer and some sunshine in shorts and flip flops.
Sharks out of water.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Thanks!     03/15/2011 17:39
Nice informative TR; good job on the outing. Spring has sprung in some parts, not so much in others!


Riding home....     03/14/2011 23:19
”After a break below Little Bear, we pointed our skis downhill and let them run for the truck. This is the best part of skiing, a rapid exit towards the cooler.”

Amen, bro. Ain't that sweet!

I finally broke mine out last Thursday for Bierstadt, what with the long road approach to Guanella now. Those mileage signs went by pretty quick in the moonlight... : )


Dry?     03/14/2011 13:26
did you guys get to ski anything?

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