Blanca Peak

Condition Updates  
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2023-04-15, By: Will_E
Info: Got up Blanca and Ellingwood yesterday. Lake Como Road is dry about halfway to the lake, then snow is intermittent until just before the lake, there's a pretty good trench in the snow covered sections. Snow was pretty good yesterday, on the way up I followed Josh's trench, didn't need snowshoes until around 12,200, had them on for maybe a mile on ascent. On the way down I used them from 12,800 to just past the lake. Pretty cold above treeline and not much sun out, I showed 18 degrees at summit. I used ice axe for security on a few slopes, crampons wouldn't have been a bad idea, but I'm kinda lazy. 
12 2
Route: Lake Como Approach
Posted On: 2023-04-13, By: joshgrundy
Info: Lake Como road is totally dry until around 10,300 when the road takes a dip into the trees. Shortly after that, there are a couple flooded sections due to snowmelt, but there is dry ground to walk around. The stream crossing is going pretty strong and the snow is no longer strong enough to hold weight, so expect to get wet feet. From 10.5k-11.5k, there are a decent amount of dry areas depending on sun exposure, but there will still be slushy snow at times. Above 11.5k as you approach the lake, the snow gets consistently deeper and post-holing starts to be an issue. As of this writing, the snow is so slushy it cant hold any weight in this area. Snowshoes dont really help. Past the lake, I seemed to be the only one to attempt this peak for a while. The snow was horrible. Deep postholing in many areas with large areas is snow collapsing when you step on it. Really tough and slow-going, again snow shoes didnt make much difference most of the time, the snow is just too soft and slushy. I turned around at 12.4k due to this, but my guess is conditions would have improved above 13.5k. The ridges looked to be drying out. 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2023-02-01, By: highheeledhiker
Info: We wore snowshoes past Crater Lake and up to the base of the climb for the Ellingwood/ Blanca saddle. Then we switched into crampons and used our ice axes for both Blanca and Ellingwood. Ellingwood involved more routefinding but Blanca was essentially a snowy boulder hop along the ridgeline to the summit. 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-12-24, By: Chipmunk
Info: There were tire tracks all the way to Jaws 1. I'm not in possession of that sort of bravery, so we parked at a dry switchback at ~9800 ft. The road was snowy after this point. We booted to Lake Como where we switched to snowshoes, which were helpful through the basin. The slope up to the Blanca-Ellingwood saddle is quite bare for this time of year. Carried but did not use microspikes, crampons, and ice axe but spikes could be useful in a few spots. Nice trench all the way through the valley now, reinforced by a third solo hiker we saw out there. We did not get a sun hit until 11:11 when we topped out on the ridge. In the upper valley the sun is gone by 2:30, so expect to be cold with no direct sunlight for the majority of your hike! Beautiful bluebird day - we were sheltered from the wind the entire day in the valley and by sticking to the west side of Blanca's ridge. 
5 1
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-12-12, By: yared0319
Info: Started approach to Lake Como on the road at 8300 ft, though a standard AWD vehicle / truck with a little more clearance (for rocks - there was very little snow/ice on the road) could have made it to 9000-9500ft. Hiking conditions above 9500ft were a mix of rock, ice, shallow snow, and hip-deep snow. SNOWSHOES REQUIRED - especially for the last 1000ft to the ridge. High winds were a problem near the ridge. Made it a little ways across the ridge 400ft below summit before having to turn around due to those winds. The ridge was otherwise doable, though there was no obvious trail to follow at that point. 
7 6
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-12-06, By: Jacob11235
Info: Deep snow, ice, and wind seemed to be the theme of the day. There was someone who made it to Crater Lake on Thursday before my buddy and I were up there so we were able to follow tracks there...snowshoes were definitely necessary as there was waist deep post holing going on and if you get off the trail at all or new snow has covered up the old tracks then you'll be breaking trail which was not a lot of fun; the ridge was a bit windy put also covered in some ice and snow which made things doable but a little more interesting. All in all it was a great day in the mountains and full on winter conditions; I used micro spikes as well as snowshoes, oftentimes alternating every few miles. 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-12-01, By: joshgrundy
Info: Attempted Blanca/Ellingwood today and made it to 12,700' before turning around due to high winds. As of 12/01, the Lake Como road is mostly snow covered above 9,000 feet, generally ankle deep. After Lake Como, the snow gets a bit deeper, with areas of shin/knee deep snow common. There was some occasional post-holing generally around Blue Lake, which was the area of deepest snow I experienced. Overall, decent conditions for this time of year. There weren't any other tracks out there for essentially the entire route, so the only tracks are mine. Hopefully they can be utilized. Though I wasn't able to do the last mile, nothing looked harder than what I had already done. The ridges to the summit were fairly wind-blown. 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-10-03, By: dsr80304
Info: Probably not a surprise to anyone, but things got pretty wintery yesterday in the Sangres (like everywhere else). Summited Blanca around 1030. Was a bit icy and maybe an inch of snow at that point. But snow was picking up on the descent, and was accumulating on the ground all the way down to about 11k on the road. Maybe we stuck too close to the ridge on the last few hundred feet or maybe it was just the wintery conditions, but felt like solid class 3 in 2-3 spots. 
Route: lb to blanca
Posted On: 2022-09-06, By: zootloopz
Info: only note here is I felt like at the end of the catwalk, when it starts to steeply ascend, the large boulder at the base felt loose. test your rock. 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2022-07-11, By: CharGalli
Info: Approach from Como Rd was easy, well marked trail going up to blanca, sad to discover graffiti on the summit, traverse to Ellingwood was cake with lots of cairns and no need to find route… descending Ellingwood I suggest make it back on the traverse , the gully down is poorly marked and everything is loose from it's scree to big boulders … I didn't see a clear path on that standard route and climbed up to the traverse to get back on the blanca trail and made my way down back to como … got hit by a bad storm and hail on the way back , lots of jeeps/ off-roading vehicles changed some rocks of place , como Rd become a river yesterday 
5 5
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-06-29, By: Istoodupthere
Info: Surprise graupel storm (something I had never witnessed) yesterday caught a handful of people off guard, on or near the summit yesterday. Everyone safe. Forced me to set up camp .8 miles below Lake Como. Today was beautiful with zero chance of storms. Going up the face to gain the summit ridge entailed working your way around multiple iced areas. A couple inches of snow/graupel remained in the afternoon between the boulders. Crest of summit ridge was completely dry by 10:30am. Really enjoyed summit day. Beautiful area. I didn't think the Como road was quite as bad as expected. Group of 40 high school kids starting way too late. Another similar group of about 20 heading up to Como today. 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-06-19, By: Jacob11235
Info: I'll make a more proper trip report with pictures and everything in a few days but the conditions Saturday were pretty terrible; it appeared the weather that was expected on Sunday rolled in early...camped at 8,000(ish) ft., and started off up the notorious jeep "road" around 4 am; fog quickly became the issue and theme of the day...light drizzle, 5-10 ft. avg. visibility, 10-30 mph winds with occasional 40(ish) mph gusts (when you live in Dalhart, TX where they don't consider it windy until at least 25 mph you learn to get a feel for varying windspeeds lol) were the typical conditions all the way up to and through the summit; I went directly from base camp, around 8,000(ish) ft, making the route about 9 miles and with approximately 6,600 ft of vertical gain. The single push took about 5 hours to the summit; there were never times were I felt beyond my ability but there were definitely a few times where I was out of my comfort zone; I opted to skip the traverse to Ellingwood given the weather and come back another day...I could see no more than about 10 feet in front of me until I was just above Crater Lake on the way down so given this; I'd like to come back on a better day and go up Ellingwood then traverse over to Blanca for the views. If the weather starts to turn bad I would advise proceeding with extreme caution and bring a helmet; the rocks and scree become slippery and are more prone to become dislodged and falling; I forgot mine and definitely kicked myself for it. This peak is no joke, the final summit push can find you in some difficult class 3, borderline class 4 stuff if you get too far off trail on the ridgeline so be careful, if you stay on the trail, which is very well marked, and IF you know what you are looking for then the cairns are easy to spot and it isn't excessively hard to follow the correct trail. Everything tends to look the same above Crater Lake so it is easy to miss the cairns, once you find them it's not too tricky to discern the correct route to the next one, foggy conditions make this much more difficult so I would definitely suggest having a buddy with you if you decide to go up in inclement weather... All-in-all, weather on Blanca is a factor; especially in the summer with the afternoon thunderstorms which seem to be rolling in between 2-4 or so; it was a blast, I met some great people, and I definitely grew from this experience . 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2022-06-14, By: drotleff
Info: Summer conditions for these two peaks. Minor quibble with the cairns right under the summit of Blanca, they may guide you towards weird class 4 terrain. Keep right and walk to the summit once you're 30 feet or so below the peak. The route up and down Ellingwood needs new cairns, on the return from Ellingwood summit you need to follow the cairns down, not across to the Blanca connection. 
3 3
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: Jirwindisc
Info: Blanca is GTG for the summer. Not a single snowfield that we needed to cross and the cairns and route were quite easily found. Of course, the drive to 3.25 in my buddies Subie was an adventure, but doable, and then after that, the hike up the road did suck, but it's part of the game. We set camp at Lake Como and hiked from Como to Blanca and Ellingwood without issue. It's a long hike, but fairly easy to find the route and push on. We did cross 6 people who had done the Little Bear to Blanca traverse and they still had some pucker factor going on. They brought ropes but didn't use them, but one said he wished he would have. I did Little Bear the next day and might have found 1/2 of one of their trekking pole and would like to get it back to him. Word of note, after doing Ellingwood, don't try to shortcut anything. Go back the way you came to the saddle. We tried the shortcut and almost had a really bad rock slide story. 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2022-06-12, By: andrewpatterson33
Info: Summer conditions all the way through. Highly recommend the "traverse" route going between the two as it is easy to follow and saves you a bit of elevation loss. Lakes are gorgeous, road is brutal. 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2022-06-07, By: jeffh7
Info: Didn't attempt Blanca as we approached Ellingwood from S Zapata Creek, however I have provided pictures for people who are interested in the conditions of Blanca + Ellingwood Traverse. See my Ellingwood conditions update for info on Ellingwood S Zapata Approach/C2 couloir 
2 5
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2022-05-30, By: Guyer25
Info: Still very deep snow above Crater Lake. A bit of exposure and easy climbing at the top. A lot of post-holing and trudging up deep snow, steep in parts. Not much trail to follow. Ice axe and spikes were nice to have. 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-05-15, By: butcher213
Info: The route is dry to Lake Como, then a couple snowfields up to the basin below Blanca/Ellingwood. The ridge itself has some snow on the Lindsey side, but it's otherwise clear. The class 2 Ellingwood route is still snowed in below its ridge. The gulley gaining LB's west ridge still holds snow, I don't know about the Hourglass. The Blanca-LB traverse was almost entirely dry. Attached are photos of the traverse, and the northern Sangre 14ers. 
2 1
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2022-01-16, By: jscully205
Info: Not much snow on the road and parked at 9300 in stock Tacoma. A vehicle if similar capability could have driven to 9600 or so. Hiking the rest of road I did not put snowshoes on until after the lake and changed to spikes when I arrived to the upper basin. I climbed a variation of Blanca's face on the 3rd class terrain intermixed with snow directly below the summit. From Blanca's summit I traversed over to Ellingwood, taking a high line across the ridge avoiding the possible wind slab across the saddle. Brought but didn't need axe as I found poles were adequate. From Ellingwood, I worked my way back a little to the south and picked a lower angle rib to follow back to level ground. 
7 1
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2022-01-14, By: -wren-
Info: Just relaying secondhand information here - a friend let me know that there was a CAIC forecaster up in the area recently, and the slope below the Ellingwood/Blanca saddle is reportedly loaded with snow much deeper than the surrounding area, which has facets in it. Changed our plans of checking it out this weekend. May be best to give it some time. 

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