30 Photos - Jan 8, 2012
Photo: Bill and I met Jeff at the Lake Como TH way down there on Friday night to car camp. Saturday morning we drove up the Lake Como Road to ca. 10,000' elevation, stopped by the gnarly road, not snow. Crazy to drive so high in January. Clearly a poor winter in CO. We started hiking around 7:30amPhoto: Team Orange represent. I loved how Jeff's sleeping pad matched perfectly his backpackPhoto: Only patchy snow up to Lake Como. Old snowshoer tracks led the way. Here, Little Bear Peak (14,037') is obscured by cloudsPhoto: Trekking across the frozen Lake Como made for a direct approach and less wallowing in willows on the standard trail around the north side of the lakePhoto: Ptarmigan!Photo: As we reached our high camp location above Lake Como the clouds thickened. Still clear in the valley, thoughPhoto: We setup camp at ca. 12,000' and then, at 10:30am, headed up towards the summits of Ellingwood Point and Blanca Peak. We didn't bring snowshoes and, at times, cursed that decision but overall they weren't necessaryPhoto: Bill above the first lake above our camp. Old snowshoe tracks and sunbaked snow made for easy travel much of the timePhoto: As we got higher we encountered increasing moist winds. These rocks tell the talePhoto: In the thick clouds navigation was less than ideal. However we nailed the ridge between Ellingwood and Blanca right at the low-point. Good and bad...Photo: Photo: The bad of nailing the ridge at the low point: having to descend one gully over to avoid the gigantic notch in the ridge en route to EllingwoodPhoto: Back on course, Jef breaks trail on the ascending traverse to Ellingwood Point's summit. Snow was very inconsistent; sometimes soft and punchy, other times bulletproofPhoto: But at 1:30pm we reached the summit of Ellingwood Point (14,042') in high and cold windsPhoto: Self portrait, Ellingwood Point (14,042') 1:32pm, 01/07/2012. My fifth time on Ellingwood's summit. First time in winterVideo: A brief snack and water break on the summit of Ellingwood PointPhoto: We reversed our track back down to our low point between Ellingwood and Blanca and then continued the wind fight by ascending Blanca PeakPhoto: Nearing the summit. The winds were less intense than on Ellingwood but still annoyingPhoto: On the summit of Blanca Peak, 3:09pmPhoto: Self portrait, Blanca Peak (14,354'), 3:10pm, 01/07/2012. My seventh time on Blanca Peaks's summit. First time in winter.Photo: The cold, wet wind resulted in a decent layer of rime on all of usVideo: Descending the NW ridge just below Blanca's summitPhoto: As we descended out of the clouds we noticed the bodies of water in the San Luis Valley reflecting the sunlightPhoto: We also witnessed a pretty badass sunset and some amazing colors. It made us feel quite pleased to be up this high in winter at this time of dayPhoto: More sunset action as we neared our high campPhoto: Photo: Jeff's friends Kevin and Brian and had come up later that day with their friends Allen and Trey. Trey was at camp when we arrived after our descent. Kevin, Brian and Allen we heading up Ellingwood Point late in the day and would arrive back at camp at 8:30pm. It was good fun to have company up in the basin.Photo: Sunday morning dawned clear which was completely opposite the forecast for the area. The night's low was likely close to 8 degrees but the three of us stayed plenty warm in Jeff's cozy three-person Moss tentPhoto: The clear morning gave us a grand view of Ellingwood Point. It was nice to see what we had climbed the previous day in low visibilityPhoto: The hike down was uneventful and took us about an hour and a half. For winter ascents of two 14ers, it sure felt easy thanks to the very poor snow season CO is experiencing