Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  04/11/2020
Modified:  04/14/2020
Date Climbed:   01/18/2020
Author:  Will_E
 Blanca/Ellingwood January 2020   

Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point

January 18, 2020

Whenever we have a great weather forecast in winter, I try to hit the long approach peaks. Blanca was on my radar well before winter started, just needed a great forecast, as I knew it'd be a hella long day. On Friday January 17, 2020 I headed down to Alamosa to stay the night so I could be well rested for a long day in the Sangre's.

As far as I was willing to drive my toaster.

I started around 8,000 ft just after 6:30, plan was to be hiking around sunrise. I knew I'd likely be using a headlamp for the day's adventure, but I'd just as soon use my headlamp at the end of the day than at the beginning. Pretty cold to start the day, but not much wind.

6° measured when I left my toaster (I can't really call it a car).

Initially Lake Como road was mostly dry or had light snow, I didn't need any traction or flotation. Seeing the sunrise over the valley was cool.

San Luis valley


Made good time the first 3 miles, around 29 minutes per mile. I see lots of complaints about the long walk up Lake Como Rd, I don't mind it so much, its great cardio.

Broken down Cherokee #1.

Snow was nice and stiff.


I made it 3.5 miles up the road before the snow finally deepened and I put my snowshoes on.

Snowshoe time!

Initially after putting on snowshoes I was breaking trail, but shortly thereafter...

A trench appears!

I was surprised to see a trench, I was expecting a long day breaking trail. It was generally consistent up until maybe a mile from Lake Como. This day just kept getting better.

Broken down Cherokee #2.

I had to see what it looked like inside. Ouch. (it wasn't locked;)

The trench.



Sun coming up over the ridge.

I like to think of myself as a photographer first and mountain climber second, this day would be great from both aspects. Many of my favorite shots this winter would be taken on this trek.


Sidehilling near Lake Como. Ugh.

I don't know what kind of tree this is, I’ll just call it awesome.

Love these frost covered trees.

Made pretty good time to Lake Como, a little over 3 hours from start. I was pretty excited to walk across it, the kid in me gets a little over eager to walk across a frozen lake.

Lake Como, with Little Bear.

I usually keep a nice straight line across lakes. Not today.


One of my favorites from the day.

Past Lake Como I followed the Jeep road, the nastiest snow of the day was in the steep section immediately after Lake Como. Fortunately its not terribly long.

Near the Little Bear turnoff.

Finally above treeline.

Continued in snowshoes until I got past the upper lakes. It had been over a year since my first summit of Blanca, I didn't remember it being so far beyond Lake Como.

Ellingwood point as I make my way up Blanca.


Mt. Lindsey on the right.

The climb up Blanca's face was pretty uneventful, there was a mix of dry rocks and not terribly deeps snow. I didn't use crampons or microspikes.I reached Blanca's summit around 1:30.

From Blanca's summit.

Little Bear

When I started down Blanca I had been contemplating Ellingwood. First I talked myself out of it, thinking it was getting too late, I don't mind hiking in the dark, but didn't want to be coming down Ellingwood's face in the dark. Decided I would go down the ridge and just have a look. Subconsciously, I think I knew if I got to that point I'd go for it. Ugh, playing mind games with myself.

Summit temp. It was pretty windy, I didn't need goggles very often this winter, but had them on from probably 13k ft. today.

Connecting ridge to Ellingwood. Surely it can't take very long...

Once I reached the low point on the ridge, I looked at the sun. It was deceptively high. I purposely did not look at my watch, I didn't want a different data point to talk me out of going for it. I convinced myself that I could surely summit Ellingwood, then get down to Lake Como before dark, and I'd just have an easy road walk by headlamp.

The ridge up to Ellingwood.

There were a few tough maneuvers required across the middle of the connecting ridge, mostly to stay on dry rocks. I wasn't expecting that.

Reached the summit of Ellingwood around 3:30. It was great timing for photos, the best picture I've taken this winter was from the summit of Ellingwood point.

Looking back at Blanca.


The money shot. Blanca, Little Bear, San Luis Valley, the sun. This should be on a wall in my house.

Left the summit of Ellingwood a little before 4pm. I knew I wasn't going to get to Como before dark, but had no issue getting down the steep part of Ellingwood. The sunset as I descended was awesome. I was glad I pushed on to Ellingwood. Long days like this are what I live for.


We have the best sunsets anywhere.

Sunset plus snowshoe tracks? These are a few of my favorite things.

I was able to get to my snowshoes before dark, my tracks were intact pretty much the whole way down, so getting back was uneventful.

Final stats.

GPS track.

Thanks for reading.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Picturesque Trip Report
04/12/2020 07:41
I'm glad you held off from posting this trip report. In these stay at home days there are not many reports to view. I appreciate yours enchanting report. Your photos are great. I'd love to hang a few in my home with your permission. I really like that you included a shot of your trip time, HBR, and calorie burn. That's some great fitness beta. Again, thank you for posting, staying safe, and giving some respit from this lull.


Very, very nice.
04/12/2020 09:25
You certainly are a fine photog - and you surely had a wonderful day. Thanks for putting this one up!

KSU Wildcat

Great pictures!
04/12/2020 12:02
Your pictures are fantastic. The âœmoney shot❠!

Thanks for posting to give us a few minutes of âœoutside timeâ.


Will for president
04/12/2020 15:42
Another vote for this report and your amazing photos, Will. Keep 'em comin'.


Very nice
04/12/2020 20:39
Nice trip and good work!
I love that area up by Lake Como. Bad day for Cherokees huh.
Great photos, made me feel I were there.
Did you bring a tripod up there with you, what kind of gear do you have?


Sunset pics
04/13/2020 09:36
Look amazing! This was a nice view on this cold, snowy, stuck at home morning!


04/13/2020 10:53
@Redorgreen Help yourself to any pics. Send me your email and I can get you full resolution images, I had to resize them for here.

@Jay Thanks, it was fantastic up there.

@KSU Thanks, I'm enjoying going back through my winter's adventures.

@Supra Couldn't be president, no real mountains near DC!

@Nyker Yeah, won't be considering a Cherokee anytime soon. I'm a bit curious as to what stranded them. All of my shots on this trip were from iPhone (11 pro). I'm too lazy to drag my SLR up a mountain, but I do drag a small lightweight tripod sometimes, usually just use it for a summit selfie.

@Tornado I'm almost always behind on going through pictures, as I'd rather spend my free time hiking, but have a bit more free time than usual given current world events.

05/07/2020 11:34
Great post! What app were you using to track your health data and get the map line?


App tracking
05/07/2020 15:32
Itâs the default app that Apple Watch uses.

07/07/2020 12:48
Great post and AWESOME photos!

Thanks for sharing

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