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simple Blanca trip?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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simple Blanca trip?

Postby bryanc85 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:59 pm

hi, this is my first post here. I am planing a trip to mt. Blanca and having a hard time finding some info. i drive a honda cr-v 4wd stock and i was wondering how close to lake como i can get before having to hike the rest. is there and easier rout to take? what is the camping situation? i hear its free and you can camp anywhere between 7,800ft and 8,400ft. is this true?

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Re: simple Blanca trip?

Postby RJansen77 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:08 pm

I drive a stock Honda CRV also, and unless you are really willing to trash it I wouldn't expect to get much higher than 8800' or so. That road means business. I've ridden in a Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Tundra and both times we've stopped at 8800'.

There are camping spots all around the lake, and while I've heard (can someone else chime in here?) that some of it is private property I've never seen any signs or warnings up there. Just be sure you are careful with your food as there have been many bear encounters up there the past couple of years.

I've seen people camping along the lower reaches of the road, presumably before starting to hike or drive up it, but I've never done this myself. It would be really, really hot in the afternoons down there and there are no water sources low on the road. It's free along the road and at the lake.

This is what I've learned in three trips up the road, I'm sure others will chime in.
"But it doesn't matter if your in Valdez skiing out of a helicopter, or putzing around on a flat hill somewhere in Iowa. That adrenaline rush comes when you satisfy your most basic instinct, your own search for freedom."

-Warren Miller


I almost always wear a bathing suit when I climb. If you see me say hey!

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Re: simple Blanca trip?

Postby peter303 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:21 pm

Drive as far as you are comfortable along the road, then hike to a camping spot. I myself had stopped on the trail before the lake because it got dark. I did a light backpack, otherwise called a bivouac: sleeping bag, tarp and four cold meals. Hide the gear while summitting.
Hikers often do Ellington the same day because there is a connecting trail. Little Bear is one of the more difficult and in a different direction.

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Re: simple Blanca trip?

Postby geojed » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:36 pm

There is an easier way if you would like to start at the Zapata Falls TH and camp near Zapata Lake or just below tree line in the basin. This would be an awesome place to camp. Or if you just want to camp at the TH there is a Forest Service Campground at the TH.

The Zapata Falls TH which is at 9500' elev is easily reached by any 2WD and is a great alternative to parking at 8800' on the Como Rd. If you are planning on doing both Blanca and Ellingwood in a day (which would be easy to do from a high camp at the lake), even though you have to resummit Ellingwood, this route still saves you 100' elev gain, and about 4 – 4.5mi(depending on whether you take the C2 Couloir or the couloir I took) compared to parking at 8800' on the Como Rd.

Check out my TR here: http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=12100&parmpeak=Ellingwood+Point&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

One of the commenters on my TR also gave this advice regarding this route:
--bb-- wrote:Quick tip: recommend groups starting/returning at Zapata Falls TH leave a car at Lake Como TH in case of rain/hail storm in between Blanca & Ellingwood. This way, you can descend safely via Lake Como rather than ascend Ellingwood the second time on exposed north ridge and slippery-when-wet rocks. If not, recommend hiking in and starting from Zapata Lake.
Last edited by geojed on Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
• It's by getting away from life that we can see it most clearly... It's by depriving ourselves of the myriad of everyday experiences that we renew our appreciation for them...I've learned from my experiences in the mountains that I love life. — Dave Johnston
• Mountains are not climbed merely to reach a geographical location — but as personal and spiritual challenges to the participants. — David Stein
• The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.— Alex Lowe
• Why do I climb the mountain? Because I'm in love! — The Captain

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Re: simple Blanca trip?

Postby Jay521 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:52 pm

geojed wrote:Or if you just want to camp at the TH there is a Forest Service Campground at the TH that is totally FREE.

Actually, it's not free. It's not very well marked, but it is $11/night.
I take the mountain climber's approach to housekeeping - don't look down

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Re: simple Blanca trip?

Postby geojed » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:03 pm

Oh really? Well it was free for a while once they reopened after the renovations.
• It's by getting away from life that we can see it most clearly... It's by depriving ourselves of the myriad of everyday experiences that we renew our appreciation for them...I've learned from my experiences in the mountains that I love life. — Dave Johnston
• Mountains are not climbed merely to reach a geographical location — but as personal and spiritual challenges to the participants. — David Stein
• The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.— Alex Lowe
• Why do I climb the mountain? Because I'm in love! — The Captain

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Re: simple Blanca trip?

Postby bryanc85 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:30 pm

Wow, thank you all so much for your quick response! the Zapata TH sounds very interesting. I will look into it a bit more but it sounds perfect for us. you guys were a great help. i am so looking forward to this trip! thanks again.

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