Peak(s):  Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  04/11/2009
Date Climbed:   04/11/2003
Author:  Easy Rider

 South Face   



This was the fourth straight trip to this area. I was shut down by surly weather a couple times, and still was not too sure about the coverage on Little Bear. I had nearly given up riding 14ers with the increasingly dry winters. Peaks like Shavano were out permanently. These shots are from my Little Bear attempts.

(click for slightly larger image)






Once again the twinkling lights of Alamosa dropped away as ol'blue climbed the road to Chokecherry Canyon, picking up radio stations out of Santa Fe. I parked at the bottom of a nasty bowling alley. By 2:00 am, the mud had already frozen at 10,ooo ft.
The ridge I was using to get to Little Bear was out of condition. I returned to the road, stashed the rope, and camera: my huge lead Minolta SLR weighing over two lbs (still wish I had not).

I entered the canyon instead. It was still dark as I skinned up past Lake Como. The moon set as I made my way through a long chain of small terraces. The last one cradled an enormous black cube below Blanca and Ellingwood. I was well dressed, so I curled up and dozed off there waiting for more light.

The climb to the ridge went well, and the climb up to the summit of Ellingwood was more exiting. Memorable views of the sunlit Ormes Buttress. Lots of new snow was plastered to that side. Blanca's north face looked sparse up on top. I spent time viewing the ridge to Little Bear too.

I made a traversing descent from the summit across a couple thinly covered gullies to the main face. I continued a traversing trend back to the left to avoid rollovers into more questionable terrain. The snow was still very frozen and fast, so I had no problem cruising out across the flat sections of the terraces. I had to walk a few yards to pick up the road again, but then cruised to the switchback above the creek, and hiked the muddy road down to my truck again.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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