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Blanca Peak  
Report
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Route  Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-07-21  Blanca and Ellingwood  Totally dry. Only concern is the nuisance bear reported previously. We saw no bear signs coming, going or in camp, however about half of the 10 or so groups we talked to had seen the bear at the edge of their camp or along the road, anywhere from 10000 to above lake como. However, none reported losing food in trees or having items disturbed while away. Looks like someone (NFS?) has cleaned up the previously reported trash everywhere and posted many warning signs reminding us what to do and not do. Thanks to TRs and CRs for giving us a heads up about this worry, and many thanks to those that cleaned it up before we made our trip. Maybe the bear will survive this lean year, and tempting people food, and become part of the already awesome mystique that is lake como and blanca group! ToddW42   2014-07-25  0     Edit Delete 
2014-07-11  Northwest Ridge  Dry to the summit. BillMiddlebrook   2014-07-11  0     Edit Delete 
2014-06-28  Northwest Ridge  Dry & summer conditions in full effect. Crater lake still semi-frozen, but the rest of them are melted and beautiful awilbur77   2014-06-29 4  4 2  Edit Delete 
2014-06-17  Lake Como Approach  Tough approach but all clear. Most of the snow was gone, only a couple of small snow crossing. Very windy and cold on this day. hiker-ed   2014-07-08  0     Edit Delete 
2014-06-13  Northwest Ridge  Led a group of 6 today from Lake Como up to Blanca Peak. All of us summited. No ice axes, microspikes, crampons, or poles were used. All snow remaining in the basin can easily be walked around if desired, though some of the snowfields are quite easy to cross also. Camping conditions are quite appalling at Lake Como though. There are fire rings about every 10 feet, all full of trash. We also camp across a grocery shopping bag of trash and a full 13 gallon trash bag full of trash just sitting on the ground. It is a beautiful lake but the whole place looks like a total dump because we the users aren‘t taking care of it. bbass11   2014-06-13 2  3 2  Edit Delete 
2014-05-24  Northwest Ridge  Got none of the forecast 4-6 inches of snow today. Almost no snow at all until you get to Lake Como, and there is still a need for snowshoes past Lake Como, although you may posthole anyway. Much of the snow in the trees is rotten. I kept snowshoes on until Blue Lakes. There‘s a LOT of water from melting snow right now. Water all over the road, Lake Como is essentially overflowing, etc. Be careful where you step, you may be stepping on snow covering standing or running water (like I did). I turned around at Crater Lake due to threatening clouds (pic 3) and of course as soon as I am back on Lake Como Rd. it was a bluebird day again. awilbur77   2014-05-24 3     Edit Delete 
2014-05-10  Northwest Ridge  For those of you who had asked, here‘s the only decent shot I have of Blanca from Ellingwood. Hard not to at least try and oblige a guy with Alex Lifeson as his pic when my ID includes 2112. druid2112   2014-05-14 1  2    Edit Delete 
2014-04-20  Northwest Ridge  Still winter like conditions. Continuous snow from about 9,800 ft up. We bailed @ 13,000 ft due to poor visibility and bad weather. LoveThisSite   2014-04-21  0     Edit Delete 
2013-10-25  Blanca and Ellingwood  10/14 peak conditions report was about the same that we experienced today 10/25, 5" or so of solid snow above 12k, which turned to soft powder above 13k, at which point I found microspikes helpful; some waste deep post-holing above 13k when descending Ellingwood via a gully, quite unpleasant. It snowed on us most of the day. Road was snow covered and icy in spots above 11k as you enter the forest/shade. We had camped at 10k just before the steepest part of the road switchbacks up to the right. If we had gone another 0.25 miles or so and few hundred feet in elevation, then we would have found some more suitable space to park and camp. BrentRichter   2013-11-02  0     Edit Delete 
2013-10-13  Blanca and Ellingwood  Persistent snow from just below Lake Como. Average snow above 12k ft is probably 5 inches. A lot of the snow is avoidable by rock hopping. I don‘t use them, but microspikes might be helpful. thefirststraw   2013-10-14  0     Edit Delete 
2013-10-05  Northwest Ridge  Some small hard packs of old snow. No new accumulation, most of the snowpacks are small and avoidable. Some ice and mud on the ledges section of the route, but largely avoidable. stoopdude   2013-10-06  0     Edit Delete 
2013-06-01  Northwest Ridge  Blanca is in pretty good shape. Lake Como road is dry. Some snowfields to cross on the way to the base of the NW ridge near Crater lake, but no snowshoes should be required. We managed to not post-hole the entire way back, but they stayed pretty firm for us. As they heat up more, they will probably get softer. For the ridge approach, the trail is mostly clear, but hard to find at points. Microspikes or crampons may be desired for crossing a few lingering snowfields, but they are melting quickly. We did it without, but for comfort, they may have been desired. Bottom line: Blanca is on the verge of being open for summer hiking, but if you are comfortable with some snowfields and/or route-finding to avoid them, you‘ll be fine. If you are looking to get Ellingwood too, more equipment may be required. It was looking very snowy still, so we didn‘t even bother trying (Pic 1). lukeneedsnewsocks   2013-06-02 1  3    Edit Delete 
2013-05-03  Northwest Ridge  Blanca was in great shape Friday, with plenty of solid snow (at least in the morning). Just above Lake Como, I had to put on the snow shoes for a while. Above 12,500 feet, it was solid enough that I didn‘t need snow shoes or crampons. Once on the ridge, there were no problems, but there were some cornices directly on the ridge crest. On the way down, the snow was considerably softer. Around 12,500 feet down to Lake Como, there was LOTS of postholing, even with the snow shoes. A high camp and an early start would probably avoid the worst of the soft snow. skerryjones   2013-05-04 3     Edit Delete 
2013-04-27  Northwest Ridge  Hauled ski gear up the Lake Como road on Friday and skinned to 13k‘ on Saturday only to find Blanca devoid of snow. Snow conditions were firm with a fresh 1-2" of powder from the previous night making for a nice ski back to Lake Como and down the road another 1/4 mile. The road has partial snow-coverage above 10,000‘. Images 1-3 were taken near Crater Lake and show the lack of snow on the face. #4 was taken from much lower (later in the day) and shows the lack of snow on the summit and drop-in to the face. Comparing these photos to the snow conditions in http://www.14ers.com/images/trips/elli/42_2010050321421828_l.jpg from Carl‘s 2010 trip report, it‘s clear the current conditions are very thin. BillMiddlebrook   2013-04-28 4  6    Edit Delete 
2013-04-07  (any)  This is a limited report, but here goes. This was before the snow on the 9th-10th. Image 1 shows the Blanca group from north of the Sand Dunes. See also https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13336177/2013-04-07%2016.48.53.jpg jdorje   2013-04-11 1       
2013-02-01  Lake Como Approach  Massive storm came through this region earlier this week and dumped 40+ inches of snow in some areas (based on Wolf Creek conditions). Did not try my hand at the road to the trailhead, but I was passing through the area during daylight hours and snapped a pic of the western aspects. You can bet the north-facing aspects of the Lake Como route in the shaded areas will be deep. Use caution, as the snow did not seem overly cohesive at the ski area. shearmodulus   2013-02-02 1     Edit Delete 
2013-01-05  Northwest Ridge  There are tire tracks to about 10,400‘ and a deep trench all the way to treeline. By now, the wind has probably blown away any trench past that. We had to break trail between 4" and 18" in the upper basin. No whumpfs, cracks, or recent avalanche debris to report, but we still practiced caution and avy gear is recommended. Careful routefinding is necessary to avoid sketch terrain. The last 50 feet on Blanca is the crux and requires a short Class 3/4 section. Photo 1 - Lake Como/Little Bear Photo 2 - Blanca crux Photo 3 - Upper Basin Photo 4 - Ellingwood Point SurfNTurf   2013-01-06 4  1    Edit Delete 
2012-12-29  Northwest Ridge  Approach to Lake Como is boot packed. Wore snowshoes from ~9‘500k as there is decent amount of snow on the road. Snow gets much deeper from Lake Como through the trees. We found the trench from last weekend non-existent, so made our own. Slopes of Blanca above 13k are windblown, mix of rock/snow, no avy concerns at this time. Took standard route up Blanca and scrambled up the ridge. Ellingwood appears to hold more snow. Weather was sunny with little wind, but very cold. Image 1: Blanca upper slopes Image 2: Ellingwood Point Image 3: Little Bear Image 4: Blue Lakes basin nkan02   2012-12-29 4  2    Edit Delete 
2012-12-22  Lake Como Approach  Just an update for those interested in current information about Blanca / Ellingwood. Chuck, Sara and I went up Lake Como Rd. on Friday and Saturday, 12/21 - 12/22. We were able to drive to about 8,800 in a full size F-150 4x4. The snow at that point was about 4-6 inches and powdery and unconsolidated, so we decided not to take snow shoes. Because of work schedules, we got a really late start...like 6pm! The moon was a little over half full and with the snow, made for a perfectly bright hike with no need for headlamps at all. :-) The road was tough hiking with full, over-night winter packs (about 40 lbs.). There was just enough snow to cover the rocks and make you unsure of your step. Goggle told us we had parked 3.6 miles from the lake. We only made it 2.7 miles in about 3 hours and 45 minutes! I‘m sure there were several factors (including lack of feeding and hydrating myself properly), but I have never hiked that slowly (at least when I am in very reasonable shape) and been that exhausted in that short of a distance! We decided to set up camp in a nice flat area that I‘m guessing is a pull-out before one of the more difficult sections of the road. With the late start, and setting up camp and taking the time to melt/boil snow for making dinner as well as the next day‘s drinking water, we did not get to sleep until around midnight. In the morning, Sara felt ill and decided to just rest. Chuck and I got going around 7. The snow further up the road was deeper and still unconsolidated, so even with the lighter day packs, it was still tough going. It took about 50 minutes to cover the remaining 0.9 miles to the lake. The day was beautiful and at that pace, it seemed like we would be able to make at least 1 summit. We made a couple mini-excursions into deeper snow a little too early before finding the route going up from the lake. I don‘t know if the signs are new or not, but there were signs indicating no motorized vehicles were allowed after that point. From that point, the snow got much deeper. That area is on the south side of the valley and gets little to no direct sun. Chuck did most of the trail breaking and was frequently knee to mid-thigh deep. When I did some of the trail breaking, I was usually thigh deep or deeper! The snow was a bit more consolidated, but it seemed like even with snow shoes, the post holing would have been pretty significant. We were pretty beat by the time we got to the large clearing just below Blue Lakes around 10am. Looking across the opening, the conditions did not look any better for at least another 1,000 feet of elevation, so we decided to call it a day. We hung out for about 45 minutes, thoroughly enjoying the great view of Ellingwood and Little Bear! The return to camp was quite a bit easier, following our own tracks back, but the deep steps still took a toll. We met Ed (ETA) heading up just as we getting back to camp. He thanked us for the broken trail :-) At camp, we found Sara just waking up after an extra 5 hours of sleep! We decided a nap was a great idea and snoozed for about 45 minutes before breaking camp and heading back down the road. The snow was much softer in the afternoon, of course, and it took us about 2 hours to make it back to the truck. If any of this sounds negative or like complaining, it really isn‘t! It was a tough, winter slog, but I don‘t regret a minute of it! It was truly a winter wonderland!! Temps were right about as projected...probably mid-20‘s for highs and single digits for lows. For me, as my first real winter over-night outing, I learned a lot about myself and how I perform and what I need to do to manage my energy levels, in winter conditions. I took a few pictures on the driving approach, in the morning on the approach to Lake Como, and at the highest point we reached, but was too tired to bust out the camera much during the hike after the lake and before out stopping point. Sorry, I was going to add a couple more pictures, but did not realize there was only room for 4 pictures in a conditions report. I guess I should have written it as a trip report instead, but I did not intend to get so wordy! Please feel free to pm me if you have any additional questions or want more pictures. For those planning a day-trip next weekend, if the snow consolidates decently between now and then, it might be manageable, but it will be a very, very long day. The day pack weight will certainly help! Best of luck and not matter the outcome, enjoy the beautiful area! The last picture I attached is of the gulley heading up to the west ridge of Little Bear. SHmids   2012-12-24  0  3 1  Edit Delete 
2012-12-01  Northwest Ridge  Attempted Blanca peak on Saturday, December 1. The Lake Como road has just a couple inches of snow shortly after entering the thick forest, and most of the way up until the end of the road. After that, the same couple inches of snow covers the trail, with dry conditions pretty much everywhere else that isn‘t the trail. Microspikes would provide comfort on the more ledge-y areas, nothing else needed. Tony1   2012-12-02  0     Edit Delete 

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