Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point

Tag two lofty summits on the Blanca Massif.

Alpine Climbing Moderate

Distance
9.3 km
Ascent
967 m
Descent
967 m
Low Point
3.6 km
High Point
4.4 km
Gradient
27˚
VIEW ON MAP
Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point Map

Description

Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point are often combined into a two-summit hike, deep in the Sangre de Cristo Range. These two 14ers form just one small part of the Sierra Blanca Massif. "Blanca is the highest of the massif which includes Little Bear (14,037), California Peak (13,849), Mt. Lindsey (14,042) Iron Nipple (13,480), Hamilton Peak (13,658) Peak 13,828, and of course Ellingwood Point (14,042) as well as all the ridges connecting them," according to Sunnysummit on SummitPost.org.

While climbing either Blanca or Ellingwood Point on its own would only be a Class 2 climb, adding in the traverse between the two mountains makes it a Class 3 effort. It is also possible to traverse between Blanca and nearby Little Bear Peak, but this exposed, rocky ridgeline requires 2-5 hours of class 4 climbing and traversing (if you forgo ropes and protection). While coveted by Colorado climbers, this traverse is not mapped as a part of this adventure.

To simply summit Blanca and Ellingwood Point, hike up the Lake Como/Blanca Peak Road past Lake Como. Once you reach Blue Lakes, you get to leave the unpleasant road hiking behind. Continue on a trail to Crater Lake, pass a series of ledges, and "follow cairns and a defined trail up the steep terrain," according to 14ers.com. Once you reach the ridge, you'll eventually go both directions to tag both summits.

Traversing the ridge in both directions requires Class 3 rock scrambling with significant exposure. Some of the scrambling takes place on loose and rotten rock, so be prepared for uncertain footing, and consider bringing a helmet. The traverse does feature some small cairns and faint trails to follow, but being able to spot your own ideal route through the obstacles is still advantageous.

Sources: https://www.summitpost.org/blanca-peak/150450 https://www.14ers.com/route.php?route=blan1&peak=Blanca%2C+Ellingwood+and+Little+Bear

Difficulty

Moderate

May involve slightly more complex glacier hikes, easy but possibly long rock ridges and steep snow up to 45 degrees. Equivalent to PD, PD+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area