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Blanca Peak, 14,345 feet, is located in the Sierra Blanca group of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The view of the Sierra Blanca's from the San Luis Valley is very dramatic. They rise over 6000 vertical feet from the valley floor. From an alpinist's point of view, the north face of Blanca Peak should be of great interest. Rising steeply for over 2000 feet, it is one of the only true Nordwands of Colorado. The Orme's Buttress Route, put up in 1927 by Robert Ormes, is the classic line on the north face. The climbing on the north face is primarily granite with the occasional bit of quartzite thrown in for good measure. The rock quality is somewhat loose, but very climbable nonetheless. A myriad of lines is possible. Blanca Peak also offers a host of moderate scrambling routes. The north face is accessed from the Lilly Lake trailhead located in the Huerfano [River]drainage on the east side of the range. The approach up the valley beside the Huerfano River is one of the prettiest in Colorado. Interesting junk leftover from mining operations makes for some entertainment on the approach. Most of the scrambling routes start from the Como Lake trailhead on the west side of the range from the San Luis Valley. An ascent of Blanca Peak from the Lilly Lake trailhead is best descended with a traverse over Ellingwood Peak and then back down its north ridge. From the west, Blanca Peak is easily descended by the northwest face and north ridge route back to the Como Lake trailhead. Both Roach and Dawson have good information available about Blanca Peak in their guides. Enjoy. This is very cool peak.
In Spanish, Huerfano means orphan boy, but the name just doesn't fit. This place is beautiful. To reach the Lilly Lake trailhead, drive north on CO 69 to Gardner, and turn left at the northern outskirts of town, heading for Redwing. Follow the Redwing Road for 6.8 miles to an intersection indicating Redwing is too the left. Continue straight and follow the signs for the Lilly Lake trailhead. Do not take a right towards Mosca Pass either, but stay left toward the Lilly Lake trailhead. This is the Huerfano Road. Continue on the Huerfano Road past the Singing River Ranch. The winter road closure is located in this area, 8,980 feet. In summer drive another 6 miles to the trailhead located at 10,600 feet. A high clearance 2 wheel drive vehicle can easily make it. Reach the Como Lake road from the south by starting at Alamosa. Drive east on highway 160 for 26 miles until Highway 150 is reached. Take a left or north on highway 150 and drive 3 miles. Then turn right or east on to a poorly marked dirt road that heads towards the peak. This is the Como Lake Road. A 2 wheel drive vehicle can go another 2 miles to a parking area at 8,020 feet, but this section of road is rough and rocky. Keep an eye out for good parking spots as the road gets rough. A good 4 wheel drive vehicle can go another few miles to a turn-around and parking spot at 10,000 feet. To reach Como Lake from the north, drive south on highway 17, following signs to Great Sand Dunes National Monument. From the Monument, drive 14 miles south on highway 150 and turn east on the dirt Como Lake road mentioned above.
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Blanca Peak:
Little Bear-Blanca Traverse 5.0 2- 4 I 6 MM 1c Trad, Alpine
Ormes Buttress 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad, Alpine, 2000'
Featured Route For Blanca Peak
Little Bear-Blanca Traverse 5.0 2- 4 I 6 MM 1c CO : Alpine Rock : Blanca Peak
As Gerry Roach writes in "Colorado's Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs," "Simply put, this is Colorado's most astonishing connecting ridge."The mile-long ridge between Little Bear Peak and Blanca Peak is beautiful and awe inspiring. Anyone attempting it should probably consult a real guidebook for details. My purpose in listing it here is to make a few notes (rather than provide a detailed route description) and to open this up for comments.Both Gerry Roach and Louis Dawson's guides provide ex...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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