Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  04/11/2011
Modified:  08/24/2011
Date Climbed:   04/10/2011
Author:  dmccool
Additional Members:   ChrisFol, Brian Thomas, SurfNTurf
 Blanca/Elingwood Attempt  

Blanca and Ellingwood Attempt

April 9-10
Route: Standard Lake Como Approach
Group: dmccool, SurfNTurf, B-Thom, ChrisFol

Trip Log

We drove from Colorado Springs to the Lake Como Rd. turnoff Saturday morning 4/9. We took my stock Toyota Tundra up the road to about 8,700ft which was 3.1 miles from the start of the road according to the odometer. We probably could've made it a little further, but being my first trip up that infamous road, I wanted to take it easy.
Parking Spot on Como Road

Starting up the road with our heavy packs, the weather was starting to turn. The wind picked up and we even took on a little snow. The road was very dry and was free of snow until well into the forest. There's no need for snow shoes.
Up the Road in wind/snow

We wanted to camp well below the lake because the weather called for high winds overnight. We opted for a couple cabins along the road. It turned out to be a great call. We set up our tent inside the cabin, had a small fire, and spent the rest of the evening dodging graupel.
dmccool at camp

SurfNTurf thinking about Elk

SurfNTurf and B-Thom

Due to the poor weather forecast for Sunday morning, we set the alarms for 4:30am. After boiling some water and grabbing some breakfast, we started up the road toward Lake Como around 5:45am. We made the lake as the sun was hitting the San Luis Valley.

SurfNTurf and B-Thom

We put on our snowshoes somewhere around 11,500 although you could probably hold out until the road stops at the high end of the lake.
Lake Como w/ Little Bear shrouded

The temperatures were very cold, but up to this point, there was very little wind. Looking back at the valley, it was a bluebird morning. Heading up toward Blue Lakes, it was a different story.
B-Thom and SufNTurf pressing on

As we got to Blue Lakes, we had to make a tough call. Due to the low temps and whiteout conditions up ahead, we decided to call it a day. It was disheartening knowing all of the planning and effort that went into this trip and the slog up the Como Road, but I'm confident we made the right call.
Ellingwood Point

Turning back

Here are a couple photos that will hopefully help those heading to Como in the near future.
Little Bear

SurfNTurf getting in some bouldering on the way out

Blanca Massif from HWY 160

Thanks to Jeff, Chris, and Brian for a fun weekend.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

04/11/2011 23:19
...I heard them.

I'd also like to add that the highball bouldering problem I'm dominating, which I've named Big Bear V14+, was a first ascent. I suggest bringing a rope to rappel after topping out.

Great weekend even though we didn't make it past 13k. Looking forward to seeing you at the Spring Gathering, and of course our super-secret upcoming alpine expedition.


04/11/2011 20:40
The weather has been a real bitch down there over the past couple of months -- even though the snowpack is down. Anna, robco, and I were turned around on February 26 due to the winds, but when Bill and I summited Ellingwood on March 26, it was a near-bluebird day. Great effort, guys!


Sweet move SurfNTurf
04/11/2011 23:21
What is that boulder, like 5.20?
Way to dominate it


Bouldering up at como?
04/12/2011 14:19
I think it classifies as a highball.

Didn't summit, but at least you got some fresh air in the lungs. Wish I was there.


Nice effort
04/13/2011 02:23
Glad to see you getting out this winter, Dan. Now when you return the place will seem like an old friend. ...the road you love to hate.


Thanks Gary
04/13/2011 14:04
Glad to see you posting again! At least we got in some class 2+ scrambling on the road.


04/13/2011 22:00
Dan, Like Gary says, when you come back it will be like an old friend.

After several snow-season trips in, I've come to the conclusion that I don't dislike the road so much - at least in snow. The lower section does get fatiguing on a long slog though.

Like Terry said, weather has been tough this year for all of us. Good effort.


Thanks, Jim
04/14/2011 14:35
I can see my initiation on the road turning into a beautiful friendship! Are you going to the Spring Gathering? Hope to see you there.


nice attempt
04/14/2011 20:18
But you need to get a navajo blessing before climbing Blanca.


Good Effort!
04/15/2011 21:50
Tks for the beta. Doing a CMC Centennial Climb with some folks 4/22-23. Your story and pictures gives us a good idea of what we are getting into. I hate that ROAD!!!


Thanks for the info...
04/16/2011 04:32
Hi, I was the one asking about Little Bear conditions today at the Incline. Thanks for sharing the TR - and good luck on your next attempt! We were on Little Italy, on Pikes that day, and the winds (at least over here) alone were crazy - can't imagine adding snow to the mix!


Good meeting you
04/16/2011 14:00
Hikingteacher - the Little Italy route looks awesome. Good luck on LB in the near future.

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