Peak(s):  Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  08/06/2018
Date Climbed:   08/05/2018
Author:  HikerBox
 Blanca and Ellingwood via C2 and Zapata Falls   

A friend and I camped a quarter mile above Zapata lake Saturday night after an enjoyable evening hike in from the Zapata Falls trail head. The hike in had great views of the sand dunes and an encounter with a dozen big horns and several babies. Our campsite was exposed and the wind was keeping us up but I was glad to have gotten that first ~3k of elevation done ahead of time.

The next morning we took a direct line from camp up the climbers right side of the C2 couloir - really not as bad as a lot of trip reports make it out to be. If you've done any Indian peaks couloirs (airplane gully for instance) it won't seem so bad. We stayed climbers right once the gully narrowed and were mostly able to stay on solid rock or somewhat solid talus. The stuff that did kick down wasn't very big and by staying on one side no one is in the fall line. The worst talus is actually the 200 or so feet below where the couloir narrows with many large blocks that are perched on what feels like ball bearings. We left camp near the base of the talus at about 5:45 and were topping out by 7 am.

Once above C2 the climb up the ridge was enjoying when it narrowed some 300 feet or so below Ellingwoods summit. Lots of great exposure and solid scrambling. We were on the summit shortly after 8 am and took our time enjoying the view. The ridge towards Blanca was enjoyable up until the class 5 wall, where we downclimbed and crossed the gully to a climbers trail that descend another hundred or so vertical feet. At a certain point we simply scrambled up stable talus to the large cairn at the top of the saddle and joined the main route to Blanca.

At the summit of Blanca after some more fun exposed ridge scrambling we saw three groups that had made the traverse from Little Bear! One had even started at their cars that morning below 9k! I had no idea the traverse had become so popular. After a long break, we made our way back to Ellingwood under darkening skys with some distant thunder.

The extended time on talus was wearing us both down and the descent down C2 seemed to take longer than the ascent. Wobbly talus is always worse on the way down and this was no exception. Once back at camp it was a relief to be on solid ground for the hike out. We even swung by the falls which were a real treat. Double cheeseburgers at Dels Diner sealed the trip and we were back in Denver by 10 pm.

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