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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2013-05-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2013-04-27||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 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.
Info: 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
|2013-02-01||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: 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.
|2013-01-05||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 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
|2012-12-29||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 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
|2012-12-22||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: 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.
|2012-12-01||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2012-09-28||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: From Crestone, significant snow is visible on the north-facing slopes of Blanca and Ellingwood. Lindsey appears to have much less.
|2012-09-17||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: The Blanca group got snow on the 12th, which last at least through the 13th (picture 1). As of morning on the 17th, no snow was visible from Alamosa. However in the afternoon a fairly dense storm blew through and dropped a hefty dusting across the whole Blanca group.
|2012-06-17||Route: Gash Ridge
Info: Gash Ridge conditions, taken from summit of Lindsey.
|2012-06-13||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: Road is completly clear to above Lake Como. Tree‘s previously mentioned have been removed. Summer conditions exist the whole way and the one snowfield to the saddle can be easily avoided. Tennis shoes got me to the top of Blanca and Ellingwood.
|2012-06-06||Route: Gash Ridge
Info: The Ridge itself was dry. Found a little snow hiking up from Huerfano Valley, and snow was useful in getting us back via Winchell Lakes.
|2012-05-26||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: Climbed in one day from bottom of road. Winter gear no longer necessary, no need for microspikes or ice axe on Blanca. Few small snow fields can easily be walked across or avoided above 13,000‘. Anyone attempting to drive Lake Como Road - 18+" spruce down across Jaws 3, will need chainsaw and wench to remove. Tree down across road (fell on Sat 5/26) just above Lake Como, probably can be moved by 4-5 guys. Very windy, smoky, and dusty, no views.
|2012-04-28||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: I hiked in trail runners up to Lake Como, but switched to snowshoes above. Some new snow had recently fallen, slightly crusty and every step we broke through and sunk a few inches - not terribly difficult but pretty annoying. Summit was in the clouds and getting iced. Still winter conditions up there, be prepared for snow travel and winter camping. Broke trail up until 13k +/-, then some weather moved in, snow and wind picked up, and we were pretty mashed from the slog up (parked at nearly the bottom of the road), so we bailed. Gorgeous area though.
|2012-03-22||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: Climbed Ellingwood on Thursday (my partner did Ellingwood and Blanca). The Lake Como approach is free of snow until about 11000 feet. I drove my jeep to 10,300 (.7 miles short of Jaws I and 2.25 miles short of Lake Como) and never saw snow. The snow got deep after Lake Como and I felt snowshoes were necessary until 13,300. The snow was at it‘s deepest in the trees after Lake Como where there is now a pretty well defined trench. It‘s getting warmer but there‘s still plenty of snow up there. Photo 1: @12000 feet just above lake como Photo 2 : The south face of Ellingwood taken at 13500 Photo 3: Just below the ledges where you split for either Blanca or Ellingwood Photo 4: Just above the ledges looking back taken at 13300.
|2012-03-05||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Conditions are very iffy and unstable right now. If you go anytime soon be ready to turn around. I made it to 13k and had to turn around because I was having traction issues and things were too avalanchey to continue safely. I picked a line that skirted the cliffs/ledges to the north. At one point I was crossing a 15-20 degree slope and it whoomfed 25-30ft to my left. I immediately hit the rock rib and stayed there as much as I could. Up higher it looked like more of the same except steeper. Since it was so warm I was also having trouble getting my crampons and axe to bite. I was rattled and very uncomfortable because of the way the things had turned out and after debating for about an hour (I was only ~1 mile from the summit) I decided to turn around. Things were dicey on the way down as well. It‘s easy going to Lake Come. Definitely take snowshoes. Lots of post holing around Lake Como. Pics to come later.
|2012-01-29||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: Approach to Lake Como does not require snowshoes (2-4 inches of snow on the road). Snowshoes needed after Lake Como. There is a faint snowshoe track through the trees to the gully that leads up to Little Bear. The Blue Lakes basin is wind scoured, and with clever route finding, only occasional trail breaking and postholing was necessary. Ellingwood Point seems to hold more snow than Blanca.
|2011-10-23||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: The upper parts of Lake Como Rd and up to Blue Lakes had small patches of snow here and there, but nothing of issue. After Blue Lakes and up to Crater Lake, there was mix of hard snow, no snow, and posthole to your knees snow. After Crater Lake, the tracks largely diverge and the cairns seem to point in various directions, so you can pick your poison, but I was able to do some talus hopping and stay largely on solid rocks for most of the day. An ice axe was handy for a steep, hard snow section (and the subsequent glissade!)
|2011-10-10||Route: Lake Como Approach
Info: Lots of powder in the Como area. Monday morning I had to park my car below 8,500 due to snow. By 10,000 feet the snow on Como road was a about 6 - 9 inches. By the lake I was post-holing up to my knees in spots (about 2 feet). I hadn‘t brought the snow shoes so it took much longer than expected and I called it a day at Lake Como. Not sure how much will melt with warmer and drier days this week, but should be significant. By the time I got back to my car, snow below 9k was nearly gone.