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Ellingwood Point

 South Face
Difficulty Difficult Class 2 
Ski/Board: Advanced, D9 / R3 / IV  
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
Start8,000 feet
Summit14,057 feet
Total Gain6,200 feet
2,450 feet (starting at Lake Como)
RT Length17 miles if you start at the bottom (8,000')
6 miles if you start near Lake Como
Last UpdatedJul 2023
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From Colorado 160, east of Alamosa, turn north onto Colorado 150 toward Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drive over 3 miles and turn right onto Lake Como road (aka Blanca Peak road). The type of vehicle you are driving will determine how high you can park. Most cars can drive about 1.5 miles up before it gets rough. 4WD SUVs and trucks can slowly make it 3.25 miles to several pull-offs at 8,800', before the road turns nasty. This is a popular parking spot and gets you within 4 miles of Lake Como. If you have a high-clearance, small, 4WD vehicle you might be able to drive to 10,000' but you'll find very few places to park. An ATV, UTV or modified jeep/crawler can get to Lake Como, depending on the driver.


1 is a distant view of the route. Hike up the nasty Lake Como/Blanca Peak road to reach Lake Como at 11,750'. Following the road, walk around the lake ( 2) and up through more forest to reach tree line, at 12,000' - 3. Continue on the road until it ends near Blue Lakes, at 12,200' - 4. A trail starts at the end of the road and your next task is to ascend a headwall with a waterfall, just beyond the lake - 5. Staying left of the waterfall, follow the trail as it switchbacks 300 feet up the headwall - 5. After reaching easier terrain, continue to 12,600' to reach a small lake and pass it on the right - 7. Pass another small lake at 12,650' ( 8) and then around a corner to reach Crater Lake , at 12,800' - 9. Above Crater Lake you'll see another headwall ahead, near 13,000' - 10.

Follow the trail through talus to reach the base of the headwall and swing right to begin climbing it - 11. The trail zig zags through ledges before traversing to the right side of the headwall beneath some cliffs - 12. Near 13,300', turn left as you approach the top of the headwall - 13. Just above 13,400' you'll reach a corner with a couple of cairns - 14. The Blanca trail continues up to the right and the less-defined trail for Ellingwood starts to the left, near one of the cairns. If you are only climbing Ellingwood, you'll want to return to this junction , so it's good to mark this spot on your GPS or smartphone mapping app. If you're having trouble finding the Ellingwood trail, here's a good landmark: In 15 locate a mining hole ahead, below the ridge. It's the one with light-colored rock below the entrance and slightly higher than your position at the junction. The route traverses left, below the mine hole.

Once you identify the route, continue toward Ellingwood's south face - 16. Look for trail segments and a cairned route that passes below the difficulties of the Ellingwood-Blanca connecting ridge - 17. Near 13,500', the terrain eases a bit after you've passed below steep terrain - 18. Continue a bit farther onto Ellingwood's south face before turning right to climb directly toward the ridge - 19. The easiest way up is to carefully follow cairns as you aim for a notch that will become more obvious as you climb higher. Once you reach the ridge at or near the notch , turn left and continue along the ridge crest - 20 and 21. Gain a false summit ( 22), drop into another notch and climb to the summit - 23 and 24. On your descent, return to the 13,800-foot notch - 25. If you are not traversing to Blanca via the Class 3 route, descend via your ascent route and return to the Blanca trail, near 13,400'.


Ski options, seen from Blanca: 27
South face: 28


Once you leave the Blanca trail, this route can be difficult to follow. Study photos and be sure to mark your location when you leave the Blanca trail to start up Ellingwood. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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