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Ascent of Blanca Peak-Northeast Slope on 2018-07-31

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Others in Party:Marshall Stewart
Date:Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Blanca Peak-Northeast Slope
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14320 ft / 4364 m

Ascent Trip Report

My son, Marshall, and I did this climb as a backpack and, of course, our main goal was Blanca Peak and not an unnamed county high point, but if you are on the summit of Blanca Peak, you might as well bag this spot too. For a full report of this trip see my log entry for Blanca Peak, but a word of warning here, especially if you are doing this climb as a overnighter, which most people do. There are some rather epic trip reports of encounters with bears at Como Lake, so make sure you are educated in bear etiquette and proper stowing of your food and gear while away from camp or at night. We didn't see any signs of bears, but we came prepared and followed all the standard precautions. We woke at 4:30 AM unfortunately to heavy overcast low clouds and this discouraged a fast pack up. We did not get started on the trail until 5:30 AM. The jeep trail continued, but eventually ends at a high lake where the route is reduced to a foot trail. We did not completely lose all the clouds until we were at the saddle between Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point at 13,800 feet. We got here at 8:48 AM, so it took us about 3.25 hours the reach this point. From here you are only .2 air miles from the summit of Blanca Peak, but you have nearly 550 vertical feet to climb in this short distance. Two-tenths of a mile is 1056 feet, so you will be ascending more than half the distance you will be covering horizontally. Some guide books classify this part of the climb as Class 2, but I would give it no less than a Class 2+ with a full Class 3 near the summit. It took me almost a full hour to cover this short distance and I was extremely happy to finally stand on the small surface area of Blanca Peak's apex where there is, of course, a great panorama in all directions. With the weather having cleared for my son and I, we took advantage of our extra time and made the short traverse to the Huerfano County highpoint. This spot is only 150 feet northeast from the summit of Blanca Peak, but it is across a rather airy ridgeline, at least for me, so it took me several minutes to get there and back. Some argue that the three counties of Alamosa, Costilla and Huerfano all intersect on the summit of Blanca Peak, but if you are a purist you better make the short traverse to the northeast in order to make sure you bagged the true highpoint of Huerfano County.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp



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