Ascent of Blanca Lake West on 2006-10-11

Climber: Fred Beavon

Date:Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Blanca Lake West
    Elevation:5319 ft / 1621 m

Ascent Trip Report

Needing an excuse to get back to my favorite lake, I found it in these two minor, but scenic summits. Rounding Blanca Lake, the first hump is bypassed on some rocks it appeared people have thrown in the water to keep their feet dry. I followed the trail around a lagoon with a campsite and fire ring, then up the next hump where I left the trail. After 15 minutes or so of a thick huckleberry brush bash, it was then pleasant meadows the rest of the way up to the two summits of Blanca Lake West.

Along the way I came across a mountain goat and kid. The kid saw me first. When the mother goat turned her head and saw me coming toward them they took off running. Perhaps if I had stopped moving I could've enjoyed them longer.

After reaching the 5319' summit, it appeared the 5280'+ summit was higher so I took the five minutes to hike on over there. Once there, 5280'+ still appeared higher than the 5319' summit, so I built a cairn here and buried a register inside. About two hours to the lake, another hour up to the summits. I returned over 5319' and descended to a nice view of Blanca Lake to eat a sandwich.

On the descent, trying to take a shortcut, I veered farther to the right and ended up in a near vertical gully. It took me directly to that campsite with a fire ring in the lagoon. So, for an alternate route up, from that same campsite follow a dry streambed to the near vertical gully. It's a challenge though, and I wouldn't recommend it.

At 1:30, I was back at Virgin Lake, and knowing I most likely bypassed Peak 5845' while doing Keyes Peak in '76, I then headed in its direction. What a surprise, there's now a fun trail to follow. That trail sure wasn't there 30 years ago, but back then I stayed on the west side of the ridge and the trail is on the east side so perhaps I missed it. It sure makes the way to Keyes Peak faster and easier. Parts of this trail I'm sure mountain goats would enjoy.

As an aside, on the return from Keyes Peak, the two guys I was with disliked the ridge route to Keyes so much, that they suggested descending all the way down to Blanca Lake on the way out. Unfortunately, I was outvoted, so that burned up some extra calories.

After a long hour, I was at 5845'. The summit area consists of four rocky pinnacles, two higher and two lower, all easy to get up. Just for something to do, I built a cairn on one of the two higher pinnacles. No register. The trail crosses back to the west side of the ridge right below the summit. On the return, a must do is rocky Point 5600'+. It had the best views of Blanca Lake of the day.

At 4 p.m., I was back at Virgin Lake and had a pleasant chat with Steve from REI who was putting up a tent in one of the pleasant meadows above the lake. Taking off at 4:45, it was a quick hour down the 27 switchbacks to the parking lot. Yep, I counted them.
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