Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  07/29/2019
Date Climbed:   07/26/2019
Author:  rideWP
 Solitude in the Sangres - Blanca and Ellingwood   

I've read multiple reports of this "Lake Como Road", but always thought it wouldn't be that bad, sure, it sucks to have to hike a road, but how bad could it really be? After a 4.5 hour drive, I finally neared the Great Sand Dunes National Park and looked at what had to be the section of the Sangre de Cristo mountains that I was about to climb. As I got closer, I noticed a white line heading up into the mountains, but thought surely that is not the road. It's straight up! Well, it was. I begin climbing the road in my stock F-150, thinking that every foot I make it up is one less I have to hike. My goal was the 3.25 mile mark, but after 2.5 miles I decided the truck had taken enough of a beating. There were plenty of spots to park along the road, and I chose one at random. Time to get going!

This was by far the hottest I've ever been hiking in Colorado. The temps were in the mid 80's, and I was immediately sweating hard. It didn't take long for me to realize, this was going to suck. Loose rocks, relentlessly steep, and hot! As I was going up, I passed multiple groups of teens that had camped up there the night before. Each time I passed one, they let me know just how far I had to go with a big smile. If you've ever been interested in seeing multiple mountain vegetation zones, this would be an interesting hike for you. I think you pass through at least 4. https://www.14ers.com/usercontent/trips/2019/19590/19590_01.jpg

3 hours later, I get to the lake. All I can say is mosquitoes. I've never quite seen as many, they were so thick you could swat and kill 20 at one time. Looking around, I realize there is no one else here. I'm at an area with 3 14ers, in July, and all alone. I don't mind the solitude, I have done almost every peak solo, but it was a bit un-settling to think I was alone in this whole basin, miles from my vehicle. After walking around the lake, I did find 2 other guys camping on the opposite side, so at least someone else was in the area. Trying to sleep was difficult, I heard many sounds, and opened the tent at one point to find 4 buck mule deer stamping around just outside my tent. https://www.14ers.com/usercontent/trips/2019/19590/19590_02.jpg

4:45, and time to climb. Strap on the headlamp and head out. I decided to go up Blanca first, which was good, because I never saw the Ellingwood split. Once I reached the saddle, Blanca was a straight shot up. I stayed to the right of the ridge, trying not to drop down to far. The trail was hit or miss, at times I'd see what I thought was the trail, then just as quick I'd lose it. 2.5 hours after leaving the lake, I summited Blanca. https://www.14ers.com/usercontent/trips/2019/19590/19590_04.jpg

Now down on the ridge, I decided to live a little and take the ridge line directly over to Ellingwood. It was somewhat easy to find, though hallway through I lost the path and again began to make my own way. Several class 3 moves and what I believe to be at least 1 4, and I was on the summit 1 hour later.https://www.14ers.com/usercontent/trips/2019/19590/19590_03.jpg

I expected to run across Ellingwood's main trail at some point, but never saw one. I begin working my way down, following cairns, but eventually ended up in loose rock. I tried multiple routes, even getting back on the ridge route over to Blanca, but decided I wanted to keep going down instead of back across. Rock hoping and looking for some solid footing got really old, and I found myself in sketchy territory. I eventually worked my way to a snow field and took the direct route down, making my way back to Blanca's main trail. https://www.14ers.com/usercontent/trips/2019/19590/19590_05.jpg https://www.14ers.com/usercontent/trips/2019/19590/19590_06.jpg

Back at the lake finally, and now facing the downward climb of Como. At the creek crossing, I missed a rock and stepped in up to my calf. Fun times. Once to the overlook, I can see exactly how far I still have to go. This is the time as 14er hikers we have to buckle down and just will our legs to get us there. 2.5 hours down, 9 hours total for the day. Worth every minute.




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