Blanca Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2021-02-21, By: averagejoe12
Info: Parked the truck at about 8,800. Booted to about 10,400 (or so) where the conditions got ugly. Deep, loose and unsupportive powder had us post holing to the knee even with snow shoes. Our progress became painfully slow at this point. As the road traverses the north facing slopes before crossing the creek it passes under a few heavily loaded smaller slopes. We identified at least one recent small slab slide. Once the road crosses the creek and traverses the south facing slopes, as you near lake como continuous sheets of steep snow come right across the road. We didn't feel comfortable crossing these and with general conditions. That in addition to the fact that we were making terrible time putting in the trench led to our decision to turn around at 11,700. 
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2021-02-07, By: RobLowe
Info: Flotation helpful 10,500 to 13,200. Booted the remainder. Traverse from Blanca to Ellingwood is significantly more tedious with multiple avy-possible and loaded slopes on Ellingwood. Very windy day on both peaks - my tracks were basically gone by the time I started back down. 10h 15m RT. 
15 5
 
Route: Lake Como Approach
Posted On: 2021-02-05, By: malawi
Info: Used snowshoes above 9500 ft on Lake Como Rd. Used microspikes the last 500 feet below the Blanca-Ellingwood saddle. Ice ax might have been helpful, but I managed with just ski poles. Breaking trail most of the way, sometimes deep snow, and sometimes whiteout conditions, thus I didn't climb Ellingwood. 
4 2
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2021-01-18, By: angry
Info: From Ellingwood point, followed the traverse variation staying ridge proper. Boots/spikes to summit. Only dropping down into the large notch into the gully then immediately regaining ridge. Route does not exceed Class 3. Descended Blanca's standard and then beelined to our earlier tracks. Snow was supportive enough on way out that we booted all the way back to car. Of note, someone defaced a boulder at the summit (last pic), and I didn't have anything to remove it. If someone goes up soon, consider bringing graffiti remover. 
6 5
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2021-01-13, By: supranihilest
Info: We did Ellingwood first and traversed to Blanca. The traverse is easier than it looks but still requires focus and good route finding. We tried to stay as close to the crest as possible; the scrambling here was harder and more exposed but the snow alternatives a bit below the ridge crest were awful, waist deep, and exhausting. I dropped down and did a little traversing on the snow and it sucked, took me forever, and was atop cliffs, so don't bother trying to cross the snow right now. The only real deviation from the ridge crest we made was at the large prominent notch about half way to the saddle with Blanca, where instead of climbing up the Blanca side of it we dropped down the gully and then reascended to the crest once past the difficulties. Spikes were very useful for traction but poles and an ice axe were of little to no use. Be prepared for loose rock, garbage snow, exposure, and Class 3 to Class 4 scrambling along the ridge. Blanca's north ridge is snowy and rocky but not difficult in any way. We ascended it and descended it to the large cairn near the saddle, then attempted to follow the standard trail down. It's snow covered so it was hard to follow at times. There are a couple of avalanche slopes below Blanca as well, but once in the relative flats of the basin the danger is generally a lot lower. We booted to treeline, where the snow deteriorated, then put on snowshoes until it made sense to take them off on the road. 
13 5
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-12-23, By: Grimpeur
Info: We were able to drive to the to dip in the road just before it gets really steep at the first switchback. Thin patchy snow on the road through switchbacsk, we were started skinning where the road heads into the canyon. With some modest creativity we were able to skin to within a couple hundred feet of the Ellingwood-Blanca Saddle, where we also stashed our skis and boot from there up, the last 1000' or so. The snow is pretty patchy and wind blasted above treeline. We were able to ski from our stash back to Lake Como. The road below the lake is way treacherous and too thin to ski for my taste. 
5 1
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-12-22, By: weswood
Info: Cold two days from 12/19-12/20. Lows around -5F at 11,000 w/ windchill and highs up to 20F. Parked around 8,300'. About 6" - 1' of snow at that point. Walked up Lake Como Road to a little above 9,800 and put on snowshoes. Could go about a half mile further without if you wanted to avoid having to snowshoe around the rocks. Once solidly on the trail to Lake Como snow is fairly well packed, but would definitely suggest snow shoes. Lake Como is almost solidly frozen over, but would not quite yet trust crossing it through the middle. At Lake Como good amount of snow. Had to dig a platform for our tent. Winds Saturday night gusts around 30 mph. Woke up a little after 2AM to melt water. Got very cold just standing there in probably low single digit temps. Left camp around 4AM. Hiked .5 mile around lake and up trail into almost a perfect wind tunnel with 30-40 mph winds blowing right in face. Snow definitely deeper after lake. Postholed up to waste a few times with snowshoes and group we met coming up said they did the same thing the day before. Could be possible to find better packed snow, but unknown. Decided to turn around and just enjoy a night of winter camping. Will post photos. 
1
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-14, By: Piotr
Info: The whole route is dry, there are few minor snow patches under the summit that can easily be avoided. Road to Lake Como as advertised - ugly. Avoid driving beyond 5 car parking at 10.2K - it is really slow going for 0.5 miles to Jaws 1 (about 20m in Rubicon). 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-13, By: j_petty
Info: Entirely snow free. Sun was out and trail in great condition. Areas north of Blanca definitely got snow on 10/11/2020 so Blanca trail may have received some snow the day after our climb. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-05, By: mjsherman
Info: Route was snow free to the summit staying on the ridge the whole was. Some snow on the face. 
4
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-26, By: gripped_lemur
Info: Conditions on Blanca as of Friday 9/25 are similar to the previous report with a few caveats. The trail leading up to the saddle is 100% clear of snow and, looking up from there, the snow looks spotty and avoidable. But snow is still on the trail and retained in crevices that are not getting much sun. I found the summit area to be "mentally taxing", not necessarily technically difficult. For instance, I post-holed once, unexpectedly, about 8 inches, but the snow held fine at 11am. There were specifically two areas where I encountered snow that forced me to stop and make decisions, mainly because a slip would have been somewhat exposed. But I did not use traction and, generally speaking, broke trail toward hiker's right of the ridge when necessary (remains Class 2/3 with relatively low exposure). Then I made the Class 3 traverse from Blanca to Ellingwood -- I found no snow whatsoever and the traverse is well-cairned. Both summits to myself yesterday -- I saw one other group. Ellingwood side of the valley is dry / getting plenty of sun while the Northwest face of the Blanca-Little Bear ridge appears to be holding some significant snow. The traverse looked dry to me and I heard from some folks back at Lake Como that at least one group did the traverse successfully on Thursday. Will post photos. 
6
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-28, By: sailingstar22
Info: Just back at my computer after a few days. We did not go up Blanca, but traversed over from LB. Snow was 100% avoidable down the Northwest Ridge (especially if you stay closer to ridge - there are cairnes in nearly every direction), though still present. The traverse to Ellingwood via either the Class 2 or 3 route is completely clear. 
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: jcrom777
Info: For Blanca: Last report had significant snow and ice. Since then much has melted off. Snow and ice is not an issue at all on the switch backs though there is still some left. The final approach up the ridge still had some snow but there are good footprints that have packed it down so you can follow those with relative ease. Only a few tricky spots. I brought micro-spikes and didn't end up using them for the ascent or the descent. I took one trekking pole which was nice on the descent due to the snow. Overall trail is well marked with cairns, even on final approach. Ellingwood: no snow or ice at all. Only tricky part about this is finding the "trail," which I more or less gave up on halfway up and just started scaling the boulders, which felt more comfortable than the smaller rocks. In hindsight, I hesitated and should have just traversed the ridge to save myself the feet in ascent. It doesn't look class three but once you get on there it's less intimidating than it looks. 
 
Route: Lake Como Approach
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: smchasta
Info: Camped at Lake Como for the night and left beginning at 6am. Route is mostly clear with snow on the trail above 12,500 feet. Can be icy in the morning. My friend used microspikes but I didn't, with no issues either way. Final 500 yards are a nice scramble but nothing bad. 
2
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-14, By: emily_m
Info: Melted out until around 12,800, but then consistent significant snow. Extremely icy in the early morning, very wet in the later afternoon. Microspikes were very helpful in the AM. Above 13,100ish, we were walking through snow that went above my ankles, if not deeper, the rest of the way. There is not a significant boot pack from the weekend; there are steps to put your feet in to avoid stepping blindly into the snow, but once you hit the ridge the tracks become harder to follow and provide no guarantee you won't posthole where the previous person didn't. There final scramble to the summit would be extremely icy in the morning, though it was just wet by the time I got there. I do not expect this side of the mountain to completely melt out for a while, if it does at all. I do expect ice to become a greater issue if more people create a well defined boot pack. Significantly more snow than on Ellingwood, see Ellingwood report for traverse info/photos. The snow made the ridge quite challenging in my opinion- when I was up there in the afternoon the snow was very soft so you sank with every step, but there is well over a foot of snow, probably more like 2 in places, so the rocks are obscured and pose a danger to shins and ankles as you fall through the snow. We were able to slide down much the middle of the face, dodging, and bumping many small rocks poking out on the way down. The snow was so soft we never gained a ton of speed and did not need an axe (not a true glissade), but was much more enjoyable than hesitantly stepping down the large rocks on the ridge. Photo is 2/3 up the ridge, and Blanca as seen from Ellingwood. 
2 4
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-15, By: Peaks4Days
Info: Drove up to just before the first "Jaws" obstacle in a slightly modified 1995 Landcruiser (2.5 in. lift, 33 in. tires) and hiked the rest of the way. This was a few days after an early September snowstorm. First started encountering snow just above Lake Como, and it got progressively deeper. By the time we got the "wall" (the cirque below the Ellingwood-Blanca saddle) the snow was very deep and there was no more trail to follow. We ended up just climbing up the snow to the summit, then glissading down. The summit pitch was a bit sketchy since the normally-class 2+ rocks were covered in snow and very slippery. Photo 1: Traversing across a bit on the lower half of the "wall" Photo 2: Summit of Blanca looking. Ellingwood and the saddle are visible. Photo 3: Just above Lake Como Photo 4: Climbing straight up the snow on the upper half of the "wall" Photo 5: Looking at the "wall" from around Crater Lake 
5
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-06, By: tcphoto87
Info: Hiked Blanca and Ellingwood today. Went up to Lake Como the night before and camped a bit above the lake near treeline. Started around 3:40am and summited Blanca at 7am. Route finding was very difficult in the dark even with our headlamps, we were seeing trails and cairns in every direction after Crater Lake so we had to keep stopping to try to find the right looking path. Noticed some tiny patches of snow on Blanca but nothing on the trail or summit 
8 2
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-06, By: Marshall
Info: Little Bear to Blanca traverse then to Ellingwood. See Little Bear peak conditions report too. Backpacked to the lake from pretty low because that road is tough! Lots of people going up Sat and backing up traffic on the 4x4 challenges. Started the traverse from LB around 7:30. It was pretty intense because of all the exposure but a lot of fun. I stayed on the top of the ridge the entire way (over Bivwacko) and did not drop below the gendarme 2/3 of the way across. This works if you are comfortable climbing it directly along the ridge line and directly up the gendarme, but I haven't seen others report it this way. There may be a reason for that. Traverse took 2.5 hrs. Blanca to Ellingwood traverse was fine and pretty obvious the whole way; it took less than an hour. The hike back to Como was in great shape. 
3
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-02, By: Msbaker
Info: First off, the road is absolutely brutal. I drove up Saturday night and made it to 8,300 feet in my Mazda CX-5. I definitely pushed my car to get up to this altitude and bottomed out several times along the way. I saw only Jeep Wranglers, Crawlers, and Toyota Tacomas further up the road. Slept in my car and started at 6:00 AM Sunday morning. Conditions were absolutely perfect the entire day. Relatively no wind, even on the summits. I summited Blanca first and then tackled the traverse to Ellingwood. The traverse is incredibly solid and well marked. It was a lot of fun. I returned via the traverse as the route down Ellingwood looked really bad and we heard from a few people on the summit that it was in rough shape. Views on both summits are absolutely incredible. It made for a long day as I logged over 17 miles and almost 7K elevation feet, but it was totally worth it. Two of my favorite 14ers and I will definitely return! 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-22, By: Mt_Beetch
Info: Hiked Ellingwood and Blanca Peak Friday. Excellent weather, little to no wind, hazy sky but didn't smell smoky. Definitely some route finding going up Ellingwood but manageable. The peaks had people hiking but not super busy. Como Lake road was in decent shape, should have gone another 1-1.5 miles up the road before it got really rough. Total trip 15.25 miles, 5800ft gain, 10 hour hike. 
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