Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  05/29/2011
Modified:  05/30/2011
Date Climbed:   05/28/2011
Author:  SnowAlien
 Introduction to the Sangres (Blanca-Ellingwood Point via traverse)  

Since this was my first time in the Sangres, I decided to go with Blanca/Ellingwood, while my regular hiking group went for Little Bear via Hourglass. I felt I needed a bit more preparation before attempting LB. The description below is for the route from the Lake Como campground, where we arrived a night before.

Roundtrip length - 5.4 miles, Elevation gain ~ 3,000.
Time: 5.15 am start, back at the camp at 1.24pm. Blanca summit was with the group, traverse and Ellingwood summit - solo.

The route ahead - Ellingwood is on the left, Blanca on the right (hidden)

The route was a mixture of rock/snow



Looking back at the route

This is Class 2? Seriously? Near the top of Blanca


Ellingwood Point and the ridge

Little Bear from the summit of Blanca

People on Little Bear!

Since it was still pretty early in the morning (shortly after 9am), I decided to go for Ellingwood Point next. The ridge looked pretty gnarly, but I wanted to see what it looks like when I get close. I descended closer to the ridge on the barely discernible trail.
the traverse

Looking back at the descent route from Blanca

the traverse up close


yours truly

The views of the Little Bear and the LB-Blanca traverse were spectacular

At some point on the ridge, I got sort of cliffed out, so I had to descend a bit lower, traverse a snow field, and then regain the ridge.

regaining the ridge

remaining route to Ellingwood Point

I arrived at Ellingwood at about 11am. The views in all directions were spectacular.
View of Blanca from the summit of Ellingwood

Little Bear

The glissade part!

I climbed below the rock field on Ellingwood, and then glissaded all the way down to the gulley. Ice ax certainly helped.

The problem became pretty obvious very quickly - a lot of postholing awaits. I did not have snowshoes, so this complicated the issue a bit. My strategy was to stick with "old" postholing tracks, rocks or patches of dirt. In this manner it took me about 2 hours to get back to the camp. When I got there, my boots were soaked.
postholing awaits

The Blue Lakes were indeed blue. Overall a great day in the Sangres, and I would love to be back.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Michael York

05/30/2011 08:11
awesome post, congrats on the double summit. looks like it was a perfect day. great pix of the


05/30/2011 13:21
VERY nice!


05/30/2011 15:20
Great post. My hope is to do Blanca/Ellingwood this coming weekend. Were crampons/ice axe necessary?


05/30/2011 17:53
Solid report and nice photos to capture your experience and provide beta for others. Really nice! Congrats!


Thank you!
04/02/2015 19:45
@achte18 & big red pride - ice axe is definitely necessary, particularly if you have any plans of glissading down Ellingwood or Blanca.
But even without glissading, ice ax helped on the ascent and on the ridge, as again, the slope angle is a bit more than I would be comfortable with just hiking poles.
Crampons - as I mentioned in the report, I did not have them (the rest of the group did) and was ok with microspikes, but there were a few spots on the ridge where I thought crampons would be helpful. On the flip side, I was glad I had my regular hiking boots vs. stiff mountaneering boots when I was negotiating the rocks.
Snowshoes - they were very helpful on the approach route even early in the morning, and most certainly, in the afternoon when the snow softened.


What a difference...
05/31/2011 04:42
...a month makes. The conditions have changed so much since my attempt on the same two peaks in April. Your photos make them look enticing; if I can mentally force myself into another slog up the Lake Como Road I might try again soon. Congrats Natalie!


I would not mind going back
04/02/2015 19:45
Thinking of doing the Southwest Ridge route of Ellingwood (it is Class 3) at some point. There is also the Little Bear, unfinished business Not sure about Hourglass, but the SW ridge might be worth a try.
Have you done Lindsey yet? The views are comparable, and the TH is much easier to get to. We almost did Lindsey the following day (camped at the TH), but the high winds sent us back to Denver...


Badass strikes again!
05/31/2011 16:28
Nice job Natalie and good TR! I ended up doin Blanca and Elingwood on Sunday and Yale on Monday. It was wayy more windy than on Saturday but Ryan and I made both. Sorry to hear about Lindsey.


This is Class 2? Seriously?
06/05/2011 00:14
I laughed at this comment, because I had the same reaction near the top of Blanca. Thought maybe I'd lost the trail, because visibility was about 20 ft. in a thick cloud.

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