Blanca Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-14, By: Piotr
Info: The whole route is dry, there are few minor snow patches under the summit that can easily be avoided. Road to Lake Como as advertised - ugly. Avoid driving beyond 5 car parking at 10.2K - it is really slow going for 0.5 miles to Jaws 1 (about 20m in Rubicon). 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-13, By: j_petty
Info: Entirely snow free. Sun was out and trail in great condition. Areas north of Blanca definitely got snow on 10/11/2020 so Blanca trail may have received some snow the day after our climb. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-05, By: mjsherman
Info: Route was snow free to the summit staying on the ridge the whole was. Some snow on the face. 
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Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-26, By: gripped_lemur
Info: Conditions on Blanca as of Friday 9/25 are similar to the previous report with a few caveats. The trail leading up to the saddle is 100% clear of snow and, looking up from there, the snow looks spotty and avoidable. But snow is still on the trail and retained in crevices that are not getting much sun. I found the summit area to be "mentally taxing", not necessarily technically difficult. For instance, I post-holed once, unexpectedly, about 8 inches, but the snow held fine at 11am. There were specifically two areas where I encountered snow that forced me to stop and make decisions, mainly because a slip would have been somewhat exposed. But I did not use traction and, generally speaking, broke trail toward hiker's right of the ridge when necessary (remains Class 2/3 with relatively low exposure). Then I made the Class 3 traverse from Blanca to Ellingwood -- I found no snow whatsoever and the traverse is well-cairned. Both summits to myself yesterday -- I saw one other group. Ellingwood side of the valley is dry / getting plenty of sun while the Northwest face of the Blanca-Little Bear ridge appears to be holding some significant snow. The traverse looked dry to me and I heard from some folks back at Lake Como that at least one group did the traverse successfully on Thursday. Will post photos. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-28, By: sailingstar22
Info: Just back at my computer after a few days. We did not go up Blanca, but traversed over from LB. Snow was 100% avoidable down the Northwest Ridge (especially if you stay closer to ridge - there are cairnes in nearly every direction), though still present. The traverse to Ellingwood via either the Class 2 or 3 route is completely clear. 
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: jcrom777
Info: For Blanca: Last report had significant snow and ice. Since then much has melted off. Snow and ice is not an issue at all on the switch backs though there is still some left. The final approach up the ridge still had some snow but there are good footprints that have packed it down so you can follow those with relative ease. Only a few tricky spots. I brought micro-spikes and didn't end up using them for the ascent or the descent. I took one trekking pole which was nice on the descent due to the snow. Overall trail is well marked with cairns, even on final approach. Ellingwood: no snow or ice at all. Only tricky part about this is finding the "trail," which I more or less gave up on halfway up and just started scaling the boulders, which felt more comfortable than the smaller rocks. In hindsight, I hesitated and should have just traversed the ridge to save myself the feet in ascent. It doesn't look class three but once you get on there it's less intimidating than it looks. 
 
Route: Lake Como Approach
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: smchasta
Info: Camped at Lake Como for the night and left beginning at 6am. Route is mostly clear with snow on the trail above 12,500 feet. Can be icy in the morning. My friend used microspikes but I didn't, with no issues either way. Final 500 yards are a nice scramble but nothing bad. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-14, By: emily_m
Info: Melted out until around 12,800, but then consistent significant snow. Extremely icy in the early morning, very wet in the later afternoon. Microspikes were very helpful in the AM. Above 13,100ish, we were walking through snow that went above my ankles, if not deeper, the rest of the way. There is not a significant boot pack from the weekend; there are steps to put your feet in to avoid stepping blindly into the snow, but once you hit the ridge the tracks become harder to follow and provide no guarantee you won't posthole where the previous person didn't. There final scramble to the summit would be extremely icy in the morning, though it was just wet by the time I got there. I do not expect this side of the mountain to completely melt out for a while, if it does at all. I do expect ice to become a greater issue if more people create a well defined boot pack. Significantly more snow than on Ellingwood, see Ellingwood report for traverse info/photos. The snow made the ridge quite challenging in my opinion- when I was up there in the afternoon the snow was very soft so you sank with every step, but there is well over a foot of snow, probably more like 2 in places, so the rocks are obscured and pose a danger to shins and ankles as you fall through the snow. We were able to slide down much the middle of the face, dodging, and bumping many small rocks poking out on the way down. The snow was so soft we never gained a ton of speed and did not need an axe (not a true glissade), but was much more enjoyable than hesitantly stepping down the large rocks on the ridge. Photo is 2/3 up the ridge, and Blanca as seen from Ellingwood. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-15, By: Peaks4Days
Info: Drove up to just before the first "Jaws" obstacle in a slightly modified 1995 Landcruiser (2.5 in. lift, 33 in. tires) and hiked the rest of the way. This was a few days after an early September snowstorm. First started encountering snow just above Lake Como, and it got progressively deeper. By the time we got the "wall" (the cirque below the Ellingwood-Blanca saddle) the snow was very deep and there was no more trail to follow. We ended up just climbing up the snow to the summit, then glissading down. The summit pitch was a bit sketchy since the normally-class 2+ rocks were covered in snow and very slippery. Photo 1: Traversing across a bit on the lower half of the "wall" Photo 2: Summit of Blanca looking. Ellingwood and the saddle are visible. Photo 3: Just above Lake Como Photo 4: Climbing straight up the snow on the upper half of the "wall" Photo 5: Looking at the "wall" from around Crater Lake 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-06, By: tcphoto87
Info: Hiked Blanca and Ellingwood today. Went up to Lake Como the night before and camped a bit above the lake near treeline. Started around 3:40am and summited Blanca at 7am. Route finding was very difficult in the dark even with our headlamps, we were seeing trails and cairns in every direction after Crater Lake so we had to keep stopping to try to find the right looking path. Noticed some tiny patches of snow on Blanca but nothing on the trail or summit 
8 2
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-06, By: Marshall
Info: Little Bear to Blanca traverse then to Ellingwood. See Little Bear peak conditions report too. Backpacked to the lake from pretty low because that road is tough! Lots of people going up Sat and backing up traffic on the 4x4 challenges. Started the traverse from LB around 7:30. It was pretty intense because of all the exposure but a lot of fun. I stayed on the top of the ridge the entire way (over Bivwacko) and did not drop below the gendarme 2/3 of the way across. This works if you are comfortable climbing it directly along the ridge line and directly up the gendarme, but I haven't seen others report it this way. There may be a reason for that. Traverse took 2.5 hrs. Blanca to Ellingwood traverse was fine and pretty obvious the whole way; it took less than an hour. The hike back to Como was in great shape. 
3
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-09-02, By: Msbaker
Info: First off, the road is absolutely brutal. I drove up Saturday night and made it to 8,300 feet in my Mazda CX-5. I definitely pushed my car to get up to this altitude and bottomed out several times along the way. I saw only Jeep Wranglers, Crawlers, and Toyota Tacomas further up the road. Slept in my car and started at 6:00 AM Sunday morning. Conditions were absolutely perfect the entire day. Relatively no wind, even on the summits. I summited Blanca first and then tackled the traverse to Ellingwood. The traverse is incredibly solid and well marked. It was a lot of fun. I returned via the traverse as the route down Ellingwood looked really bad and we heard from a few people on the summit that it was in rough shape. Views on both summits are absolutely incredible. It made for a long day as I logged over 17 miles and almost 7K elevation feet, but it was totally worth it. Two of my favorite 14ers and I will definitely return! 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-22, By: Mt_Beetch
Info: Hiked Ellingwood and Blanca Peak Friday. Excellent weather, little to no wind, hazy sky but didn't smell smoky. Definitely some route finding going up Ellingwood but manageable. The peaks had people hiking but not super busy. Como Lake road was in decent shape, should have gone another 1-1.5 miles up the road before it got really rough. Total trip 15.25 miles, 5800ft gain, 10 hour hike. 
1
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-08-17, By: sky_high
Info: Did the traverse starting at Ellingwood. For the climb to Ellingwood see my report on that peak. The traverse is very roughly cairned, so if you're not a fan of picking your own route you should pull a GPX before you set out. I did the higher class 3 section and it was all fairly solid. The routes are easily seen from each peak, but once you get on the trail watch your elevation. Even if you get off the route a little if you are at about the right altitude you'll be fine. Since you're already doing class 3 scrambling to get to the top of each peak there is nothing on this route that is any more intimidating than what you'll get on either side of the ridge once it turns upward. I was still glad to have poles to brace on the narrow sections but they aren't strictly necessary for either the up or down portions. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-21, By: PJ88
Info: A few recently downed trees covering the trail but easily bypassed. All streams can be crossed without getting wet. Two small patches of snow before you reach the ledges that are a bit slushy when the sun comes out but are only about 15 feet each. There are a few areas as you're scrambling up that have some ice on them from runoff but otherwise everything is clear. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-19, By: heathcliff
Info: Trail is 99% dry, there were two snowfields near Crater Lake about 100 feet across that could be avoided. No traction/flotation necessary on entire route. Routes to Ellingwood and Little Bear seemed snow free as well, any snow in the Little Bear approach chute can be avoided. Trail was very easy to navigate, only part that gets lost is near the ledges around 13,200, search for cairns. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-15, By: RicoLaremont13
Info: I encountered two small snow fields near Crater Lake that were easy to navigate through. No traction or flotation necessary. Rest of the trail is clear. 
 
Route: Blanca and Ellingwood
Posted On: 2020-06-11, By: SanJuanShaun
Info: Originally planned on climbing the 9th but about 6-8 inches of snow fell at Lake Como Tuesday morning. Waited it out for a day and then was able to climb Blanca and do the traverse to Ellingwood. There was a decent amount of snow but it should all be melted soon. Did not complicate climb much. Did not use traction. Beautiful bluebird day 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-04, By: Globetrotter_87
Info: Several small snow patches still remaining near Blue Lakes and Crater Lake, most of which are easily avoidable. No traction or flotation was needed, though I would expect a little bit of postholing on a warmer day. Photos: 1) one of the longest snow patches on the route (to the right of the lake), 2) looking back down on the remaining snow towards the upper lakes, 3) the gully above Lake Como leading to the west ridge of Little Bear. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-06, By: rsulliva
Info: Started at 5:30 from Como Lake. Unprepared for thin layer of shear ice most of the way up the ridge (otherwise would've used micro-cleats). Making climbing considerably more perilous and slower. The sun quickly melted it once it came out, would recommend starting later in the day. 

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