Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Date Posted:  09/05/2017
Date Climbed:   08/29/2017
Author:  glett74
 Blanca in late August  

The most difficult part of climbing Blanca is how far you hike the approach to Lake Como. All the reports on this treacherous and difficult road are just as severe as advertised. We backpacked into Lake Como and had to start hiking at about 8,500 feet. That put the approach at about 5.5 miles and 4,000 feet of gain. Hiking Blanca Peak Road (A.K.A Lake Como Road) is like hiking uphill on a riverbed full of loose rocks and boulders for hours. It sucked!

I was so spent by the time we got to Lake Como, I decided to take an extra day of recovery before attempting the Blanca summit. I am glad I did, because once at Lake Como, the camping was fantastic, the scenery beautiful and I caught a few trout for lunch the next day.


So, day 3, Aug. 31, I climbed to the top of Blanca and it was a very nice challenging hike. We are "lowland" hikers from Missouri that come out to do a 14er or two once a year. So take that into consideration before you locals chastise me for making a hike out to be more difficult or treacherous than you think it should be.

Blanca lived up to its "Class 2+" designation. Everything was fairly straightforward with easily traversed cairns to the saddle between Blanca and Ellingwood. A very large 3'-4' cairn identified the saddle. From this point forward up the ridge to Blanca Peak was filled with exciting ridge crawling and a few "almost Class 3" maneuvers near the top with exposure within several feet left or right. However, if you've hiked several 14ers and understand how to take your time in more exposed areas, most hikers will do just fine through the final pitch to Blanca Peak.


We enjoyed the peak for 15 minutes in bright sunshine and good weather. It was a very exciting summit with incredible views all the way around. We passed on attempting Ellingwood only because the traverse along the ridge definitely appeared Class 3 and too much for us to handle. We also found it difficult to locate the trail leading to Ellingwood further down. However, if I ever decide to do Blanca again, or wish to summit Ellingwood, I will do whatever I can to find a rock crawling 4x4 to get me as close to Lake Como as possible so I can conserve most of my energy for the actual summits.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

nice trout
09/05/2017 16:19
IMO the best way to approach these peaks is as a long day hike, with a light pack you can do those 5.5 miles and 4,000 feet of gain in about 3-4 hours without pushing yourself too much, so starting at 2am will put you at the lake at a good time. The road is super easy to follow in the dark, and it's nice and cool at that time of day. Adds about 6 hours to the day, so it makes for a long day, but overall many less total hours than backpacking in and out.


09/06/2017 06:30
Thanks for the input SchralpTheGnar. I agree that this should be a "very long" day hike or just get as close to the lake in a vehicle as possible.


Day or overnight
09/06/2017 09:37
See, having done Blanca as a day hike, I've come to the opposite conclusion. The Lake seems like a nice place to base camp and have a nice high start the next morning. Admittedly I might be a little biased right now, having just backpacked for a month including one stretch with 11 days worth of food, it's slightly funny to see people gripe about packing in for one night.


That Damn Road
09/06/2017 10:11
I hear ya pal, that road is awful, I didn't have the luxury of taking an extra day, but luckily I did recover well enough to get it done. Pack out is the harder part! It was my 1st backpack in 2 years, but it don't matter, I earned the right to gripe. I totally agree with the Gnar, one day, in-n-out.


Lake Como Road
09/06/2017 15:57
That approach sure does suck no matter what. We're still considering whether to pack in or day trip it for LB this weekend. I think we'll pack in just in case we need an extra day. Thanks for the trip report!

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