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Blanca Peak, Colorado


Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 11.9 miles

Blanca Peak Solo

Started 0710. Kept on plugging up road & made it to “Jaws II” where there was the sobering memorial plate from accident back in 02. God bless his soul. Once passed this point, the road became apparently rough (boulders everywhere) & really understood how some of the write-ups talked about hiking up the road was fairly brutal. There was a lot of metal on some of the rock that was sticking up out of the road & lots of fluid everywhere from oil pans and transmissions. About 2 hours into the hike, I could only see Little Bear and was starting to realize this hike was going to be a long one thru the valley to the start of the climb up Blanca and Ellingwood. I had a 4 wheeler lurking behind me as I could here it slowly making it up the trail and I could here the dudes talking and stopping quite often as they reached multiple rock obstacles I had recently passed. I can’t believe this trail is even rough for a 4 wheeler!!! I arrived at the scenic Como Lake about 3 hours into my trek around 1010. I was still unable to really see Blanca Peak and was starting to think this was really going to be a long day. As I passed the eastern edge of the lake I crossed a little creek.  trail turned steep and I could see more evidence of a challenging off-road vehicle climb. Once I topped the steep part and came out of the trees, I found a creek on the right side and got h2O. Continued up the trail over some hills and saw a couple of tents in this area which looked to be a sweet spot for basecamp. As I topped the last hill, there was a lake on the left and the end of the jeep trail. I was now faced with a pretty good rock face which I could see where the trail switched back up and still really couldn’t see Blanca that good. I didn’t think I was ever going to make it to the back of the canyon. Once of the large face, there was another lake and I thought this was Crater Lake, but I still had a little more altitude to gain before I reached it. At this point, I was starting to feel the altitude and was quite drained and had not even reached the final dash up Blanca face. Glad I got more water! Passed small pond & started up some scree stuff & finally made it to Crater Lake around 1210. I was really amazed at the time it took me to travel from Como to Crater Lake. I could now see the huge face/cliff I had to start up to make it to Blanca. Very tired now at this point. Initially when I started, my goal was to summit both Blanca and Ellingwood together, but at this point I was starting to feel that Blanca might be the only one I could get done due to my physical condition at the time and the time of day. Made it past Crater Lake and then started to realize this scaling of the face was going to take a lot of time. I saw a couple of hikers up on the ridge and they were quite small. There was actually still icicles hanging over a medium sized ledge and I could every now and then here ice falling and a few rocks as well. Wished I had brought my helmet. I started up the trail and was somewhat glad I had downloaded some track files and waypoints to find the trail. Even though I had the track files, I still had to actively look for cairns and the little orange whisker survey markers to stay on somewhat of a trail. The face was mostly loose boulders and you really had to make smart moves in order to get solid footing on rocks that looked stable. Otherwise, you teter on some big boulders which kept the adrenaline flowing. I continued up resting quite a bit after 20 yard “crawls” and slowly made my way to main ridge going up to the summit. Once I hit the ridge I passed some hikers coming down and they advised me even though its sketchy looking climbing up the ridge with the huge dropoff to the east, that it was the best route. I continued up the ridge which got steep on 2 different occasions which wasn’t too bad if you didn’t look over the edge which I had to do a couple of times to get some good video footage. made it to summit at 1510 and it was totally worth every gallon of sweat.  views were spectacular and got a good glimpse of Little Bear traverse which looked suicidal. view over to Ellingwood was incredible and shoot up the valley to the NE where the TH for Lindsey was. most impressive site was how the eastern side of Blanca & Ellingwood was just a sheer cliff! I stayed up on the summit taking video and pics for 30 minutes and decided it was time to start back. took a route just below the summit on the north side of scree to avoid a pretty steep part that sits right up at the top before you summit. Once down a little and past the steep part, angled NE back to the cliff. pretty fast compared to the hike up. almost down the ridge where you angle back to the West heard voices coming from over the cliff on the Eastern side. had to take looksie and saw couple making their way across the cliff moving North. looked pretty crazy for my skill level & admired their abilities as I knew I had to continue on to make it out before dark. To fast forward to the next day, I met those 2 coming off the Lily Lake trailhead that also starts the Mt Lindsey route and asked if that was them up there the day before. Sure was; Pretty cool! At one point I gauged the sun angle in the sky and thought I might be able to to Ellingwood, but thank goodness I made a good decision and decided to continue back to the H2 because I knew I had a lot of miles to travel that were pretty rough hiking. I ran out of water and had to pump water once again by the tents I passed hours ago on the way up. at one point getting water I shut my eyes and nearly passed out due to the fatigue imposed by the altitude. I consumed a lot of water so I knew it wasn’t dehydration and just the effects of the altitude. Couple of times I had some hunger growls and ate some powerbars and felt like I was going to yak. Pretty weird feeling. My legs were starting to feel like rubber now & knew still had 5 miles & the sun was starting to go down. Good thing I didn’t try Ellingwood! road was starting to aggrevate me with all the boulders and small ones that kept rolling around under my feet.started to get dark last couple of miles & had to break headlamp. made it back to H2 around 2045.  long day, brutal hike, scary moments, delirious yak fatigued times, super summit experienced. The only bad thing is that I have to hike up that horrible road again to make Ellingwood!! 

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