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Blanca


Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point illuminated by morning alpenglow

Blanca Peak:
I started hiking from the Lily Lake Trailhead at 5:11 am using my headlamp. I passed a couple that turned around because they left something in their car. I took the right indicated by a sign reading "Lily Lake", then a left at the second Lily Lake sign indicating a right. I continued up the wet trail and soon got great views of alpenglow on Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point. I passed a tent just below treeline and a curious deer. I continued up the drainage east of Point 13360. I could see two people on the ridge. I assume these were the people camping in Huerfano Valley. The last 100 vertical feet were very loose. As soon as I got to the saddle I saw to young goats. They ran off as soon as I continued climbing. I then climbed Gash Ridge effortlessly to the crux. At this point I saw two parties downclimbing the fourth class variation of Gash Ridge. The hardest part of the crux was that the route was not visible. I found some slings for rapelling on the south side of the ridge, but didn't want to downclimb for no reason, so I investigated the route staying true to the ridge and was not difficult, but highly exposed, especially on the north side. I wouldn't want to climb it wet. I continued up to the summit staying true to the ridge. It took me four hours to reach the summit.

Huerfano County Highpoint:
A group of three on the summit questioned me about why I was rushing off. I told them that I had a commiting route ahead of me. It was at this point I was willing to attempt the downclimb of Ellingwood Point's North Ridge.  En route to Ellingwood Point, I made the short detour to the highpoint of Huerfano County.

Ellingwood Point:
I continued over to Ellingwood Point passing 2 parties and seeing many more below. Once I got to Ellingwood, I saw one person on the summit. It took me five hours to get to the summit of Ellingwood Point from the Lily Lake Trailhead. I climbed over to the start of the North Ridge route and gave the route one last, long thought. According to Dawson and Roach, the top of the route is tricky. I found this very straightforward. I continued to the Ellingwood Point-UN 13618 saddle and started downclimbing. This was the crux of the route for me.

Ellingwood Point's North Ridge Crux

This was sustained 5th class climbing with threatening weather. I tried to move safely and efficiently, but constantly had to retrace my steps to find a less technical line. At one point it began to sleet, but did not persist enough to cause the rock to get dangerously wet. I finally got down to the scree field below the rock wall and was not too relieved to deal with the loose scree. I grabbed one last photo of Blanca and Ellingwood.  I made my way to the Lily Lake Trail and made my way down to my car. It took me eight hours to complete the loop.

Blanca Peak & Ellingwood Point, from left to right

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