Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  08/02/2009
Date Climbed:   07/30/2009
Author:  gpeoples
 Sangre de Cristo - Twofer - Bruised on Blanca  

Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet from Lake Como:
Trip Length: 6 miles from Lake Como:
Start Time: 7:15AM
Return to Lake: @1:30PM
July 29th(Camp) and 30th(Climb)

We did leave our blood on the trail in our attempt to climb these peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Blood of Christ Mtns).
But, it was a successful adventure for one of my best friends, Jim and myself.

Lake Como Rd., for those that know it, there is nothing more to be said, and for those who don't know it yet,
you will never forget it. It is the worst approach I believe of any of the Colorado 14ers and the most dangerous
if you decide to 4X4 or ATV up to the lake. Even though it is possible on an ATV, you had better have
a winch and a lot of nerve, and lastly be willing to bang up your equipment in order to make it to the lake.
I have done both and prefer hiking to the lake, it is a lot less stressful on you and your hiking party.

As always, Lake Como is a nice spot and has a lot of nice camping beneath the pines. The lake is teaming
with rainbow trout. I tried my luck, but didn't have what they were looking for.

Morning Calm on lake

We were able to utilize the shelter cabin in which we camped over-night. The mosquitoes were hungry so
we setup our tent inside the cabin without a problem and plenty of room to spare for our gear. By the way,
someone had left a bag of food in the cabin, so we had some field mice that came to investigate during the night,
so the bag went flying out the window and all settled down.

Early morning at Lake Como was peaceful. The weather looked like it wasn't going to be a factor, although we
had seen reports of 40-50% chance of rain.

So after a nice breakfast of eggs, turkey bacon, and cowboy coffee, we were off. We gave ourselves a break
on Friday morning and started at 7:15am. We had been watching the weather since 5:30am, and were happy to
see the day dawn mostly with clear skies.

Our plan was to hit the highest Peak first, so we headed for Blanca. On the way you pass the old log cabin and
then Little Bear is an awesome site.

"Jim hasn't shown his new cabin home to his wife yet!!"

Little Bear

Rock fall below Little Bear gully approach

Reached the summit of Little Bear, July 06, so finishing Blanca and Ellingwood was apart of some unfinished
business for me.

Once you get out of tree line and past Little Bear, you finally head into the Blue Lakes at around 12,200ft
and see the waterfall that feeds them from the snow melt.

Jim heading around the Blue Lakes water fall

Greg above Blue Lakes

You pass several smaller lakes after the waterfall, and then at 12,800 Crater Lake was amazing. I wasn't prepared
for how large it actually was. What a beautiful high mountain lake.

High above Crater Lake

We didn't spend much time looking, because this is where the fun in the boulder fields begins. We basically made
our own trail after we got past the mine and around the ledges. We went a more direct approach and for the
most part stayed about 50 yards are so below the saddle, and then we finally met the main trail to the summit.
We both were feeling the altitude, but were extremely elated with our first summit.

Summit Shots "Lonely on the Mountian"
Jim in the clouds


Greg fired up!!

Jim had injured his foot a few weeks before and it was still not in good shape. So he decided to opt out on Ellingwood.
Although, I could see his decision was hurting him just as bad to be so close to Ellingwood, but his body wasn't
cooperating. Jim, now noticeably limping down the boulder field, headed for the snow fields and onto
Crater Lake.

Jim picking his way down toward the upper snow field

I decided to take the Class 3 direct route to Ellingwood Point, it was about 10:30am on Blanca. Was feeling
an adrenaline rush from the Blanca Summit, the weather was clear over Ellingwood, so I was in the zone.

Ellingwood looking steep!!

The view from Blanca to Ellingwood looks intimidating, but the rock is great to climb over. Didn't have any troubles
with the stable rock and gained the summit in no time. I forgot to look at my watch, but it seemed it only took
about an hour.

Final summit push to Ellingwood

I wanted to get a quick picture on the summit and a few of Blanca and Little Bear before I quickly headed down to join Jim.

Quick celebration on Ellingwood Summit

Look back at Blanca from Ellingwood

Little Bear in the Clouds from Ellingwood Summit

Well, trying to be quick was a big mistake, I bailed off the ridge and started heading for the cliffs and not the
center of the south face that from Blanca looks like a dark spot on the mountain, or should have headed at least
for the snow fields. Well, I quickly got into nasty loose rock and then some Class 4 down climbing, but the cliff
rock was solid and made sure I was picking a good line with lots of hand holds and took my time. This line finally
took me almost on top of one of the old mines across from the ledges, so I decided to take a quick look inside.

Red Rock Mine

It wasn't much, just about 30-40 feet deep before a solid rock wall. I didn't venture to far in; don't trust old mines.
Was glad to be on a real trail again, but am sure the down climb consumed at least another hour since
breaking my own trail. By the way, there was a pair of red trekking poles left on a ledge when I was in some
of the Class 4 stuff, started to bring them down, but had to have both hands free. Met up with Jim at the
Crater Lake area and we headed for the Lake Como Hilton, I mean cabin. Since we accomplished the goal
of our trip, we decided to pack up and head down. The weather was starting to look like rain, so we didn't want
to hang around even at the lake if we didn't have to. The trip down was mostly uneventful, but very long as
some know. Didn't even get rained on during our decent. We chalked this one up to another successful 14er trip
in the books and have some good stories to tell from it.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

 Comments or Questions

Nice twofer
08/03/2009 05:48
You did better than we did: had to bail on Ellingwood the first time. Congrats on getting both with just one trip up that AWFUL road! (Also, interesting and unusual that you did LB before these two much easier peaks!)


Little Bear
08/25/2009 20:10
Late reply, but I did Little Bear with my buddy from Texas a few years ago. The plan was to do Blanco and Ellingwood, but my buddy kept bugging me to do Little Bear since it was so close and then we could get the other two. Well, I was the only one that was able to make it up Little Bear, then we didn‘t have enough energy to finish the others. Had to fly back to Texas the next day.....Glad I finished them all from the Como approach. I don‘t think I will ever go up that road again.

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