Blanca Peak Traverses

mountain bowl

The traverses between Ellingwood Point, Blanca Peak and Little Bear are excellent examples of what serious glaciation leaves behind. The photo on the left is of the ridge and bowl between Ellingwood and Blanca. You can see the boulderfields, broken cliff bands, talus, and towers along the ridge. The north face of the ridge is a sheer drop of 1000 to 1500 feet, depending on where you are on the ridge. The ridge traverse is rated a Class 3, meaning hand and foot climbing with some exposure. We did the traverse by dropping down below the upper cliffs and towers and crossing the face on ledges. Then we went back up to the ridge and climbed the ridge to Ellingwood Point. The trail back was similar except Furi led the way down and we went pretty directly down the hill until we came to the main trail just above the broken cliff bands.

The ridge from Little Bear to Blanca Peak is another story. Gerry Roach calls it "Colorado's most astonishing connecting ridge." It's a doubly exposed ridge with several nasty towers. The "easiest" direction is from Little Bear to Blanca. You are two-thirds of the way across before there is any escape and that escape is down into Blanca Basin, very far from camp and vehicle. The traverse is rated Class 5.0-5.2 (which means rope, hardware, helmets, and much technical expertise). Watch the weather because it's not where you want to be in a storm. None of our crew tried it because the weather that day just wasn't conducive.

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Blanca to Ellingwood
Blanca to Ellingwood
Blanca to Ellingwood
Blanca to Ellingwood
Blanca to Ellingwood
Little Bear
Little Bear to Blanca, from Blanca
Little Bear to Blanca from the Ellingwood-Blanca ridge
Little Bear to Blanca
Little Bear to Blanca from Little Bear
Blanca Peak area mapComo LakeLittle Bear PeakSierra BlancaBlanca PeakMount LindseyEllingwood PointCalifornia PeakComo Lake RoadZapata Falls National Recreation Area
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