Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Date Posted:  10/17/2011
Date Climbed:   10/15/2011
Author:  emohr

 Blanca, Ellingwood, Lake Como  

Here's my first 14er trip report! Any words of advice will be greatly appreciated

So for the readers who just want the meat and potatoes of the trip here they are:
-Attempted Blanca/Ellingwood
-Got to about 8,800' in my stock Nissan X-Terra on the dreaded Lake Como road
-No snow up until Lake Como
-Snow was no deeper than a foot, but was pretty hard to progress through
-Blanca Summit was pretty snowy, and with the snow, crampons are definitely recommended
-Coldest temperature that I recorded was 48 degrees, but it was an unusually warm weekend
-No signs of bears

And now for a more detailed report!

I'm a sophomore at the Colorado School of Mines and had fall break from October 15-18 and decided I'd been studying too much and needed some 14er in me. So my roommate and I made the decision to head down to Lake Como on a Friday afternoon, hike that night, hike the next day, and play at the Sand Dunes on Sunday.

We left Golden at about 3 and got to the Lake Como road at about 11, and drove to about 8,800' before my X-terra couldn't go any further. There's one pretty eroded dip before the "Jeepers Creepers" sign that is pretty rough, but if you can get by that, the road is pretty tame for the next mile or so. We started hiking at about midnight, and had headlamps and the moon was just about full, so it was providing some great light.
What Lake Como Road looked like at night

Start of our journey

The next day we woke up a bit later than we planned. We wanted to wake up at about 7, but slept in till noon. The tree we were under kept us from seeing much of the sunrise, so we slept in a little late.
Aspen Trees from our Campsite

The hiking up Lake Como was a lot more rough than I expected. Very rocky, very muddy, very wet. It was pretty grueling to get up to the lake.
First sight of Lake Como with Little Bear in the background

Up above Lake Como, the snow became deeper and the weather got colder.
One of the lakes above Lake Como

We got to a large exposed rock face when we ran into a couple that told us that we have about another 2 hours to go before we get close to the Blanca summit. It was about 3 at this time, and the sun was setting fast. I may be young and new to 14ers, but not young enough to make a dumb decision and let summit fever get the best of me. "No summit? No shame. Forced summit? No Brain."
Little Bear

Ellingwood and Blanca

The hike back down was pretty easy and had an amazing view of Little Bear from the Lake and one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.
Sunset coming down from Como

Gorgeous Lake Como reflection

Overall, I would give the trip an 8. It was really good weather, great scenery, and an all around great hike. However, not reaching a summit is pretty disappointing. But overall a great 14er experience

On the difficulty scale, I would say that this was about an 8. It was tough hiking on the road, and it's just so far! Keep in mind however that I've only done 11 14ers, so what I call an 8 might be quite a bit different from what someone else with more or less experience calls an 8

Thanks for reading and hopefully I'll be able to get some more reports up in the future!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

10/17/2011 07:53
Amazing photos. Smart decision making. Sounds like a successful trip.


Great Report and Pictures!
10/17/2011 12:56
Good move avoiding ”summit fever”. The Blanca group are some of my favorites-such a beautiful place. If you want to try Ellingwood and Blanca without the Como road, take a look at one of my posts:
It's a nice backpack in and you get the Zapata Falls as a bonus.

The Snowowl

Love the Pics
10/17/2011 21:50
Unfortunate that you didn't summit, but the experiance alone is worth the trip. I haven't had a chance to hike Blanca, but your photo's have inspired me to make the trip quicker.


Disappointment, but a great experience!
10/17/2011 22:54
Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing. Am looking forward to attempting it some day.
Talk about disappointment, I'd read how people climb/hike the wrong mountain. Never thought it'd happen to me. Well, it happened last week. I was disappointed at first, but overall just glad to be out there.
These mountains won't be going anywhere soon; am always looking forward to the next one!
Happy hiking!


Awesome pics!!
10/17/2011 23:40
Way to get out of town and go for an adventure. I suffer at Mines right now too and I'm pretty sure hiking is the only thing keeping me sane. Awesome sunset picture


Little Bear Sunset
10/18/2011 02:21
All of those photos are great, but the one looking across Como to LB at sunset is spectacular. I didn't get Blanca my first time either, but it just means you and I have to go back to that spectacular area!


Good decision!
10/19/2011 03:04
There is no shame erring on the side of safety. Nice photos with a good report. You can always go problem there, huh?

School of Mines has a great looking campus, wish I had been more serious about looking at them back when I was getting letters from them on occasion. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.


Good decision
10/19/2011 06:18
It sounds like you made the right decision. The days are so short by now; no sense getting stuck in a bad place after dark, when it gets cold so quickly. While it's disappointing to not summit, you got some very nice pictures. And, you are now familiar with the Como road, and the trail. That familiarity will help you if you should decide to try it again next year.


nice pics
08/19/2013 19:11
looking through old trip reports planning a trip up here myself.

love the pictures!!!

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