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.
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
The Blanca group is actually located in the Sangre de Cristo range, not the (non-existent) Crestone Range. The Crestones are just another group in the Sangre de Cristo Range. This range runs from essentially Poncha Pass down into New Mexico (Santa Fe?) on the east side of the San Luis Valley. The northern end of the range is quite spectacular when viewed from the west along the northern end of the 'Valley.
The Blanca group includes the summits of Little Bear, Ellingwood Point, and Blanca, with Mt. Lindsey semi-attached to the east.
By Rik Anderson From: C/S, Colorado/Tok, Alaska Jul 22, 2006
Looking for any info on the couloir that goes up to the gash on the "gash ridge" route. Just wondering if it's too loose to climb, angle of ice if any or anything of that nature. Any info would be great, looking to go climb it in late Aug. early Sept. thanks Rik
I just returned from a 3 day trip to the upper Huerfano. Beyond Ormes, there seems like many possible lines up Blanca's N. Face, including a direct to summit connect-the-features sort of thing. If anyone has any info. on existing lines (other than Ormes) I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
We first hiked here in 1984. I remember making the initial hike from the car up to lake C. We were like, man, how could anyone drive up here? Next morning we heard a jeep coming up the trail. Pretty surprised back then, maybe not so much to anyone hiking this today. Next day we took off to Blanca and took quite a while. I was pretty green and the 2 I was with had climbed just about every peak in NM and Col. We finally made it to the top (with a Rotweiler in tow) Great climb, pretty hairy scary for a first timer! We were starting back down and my buddy's Rotweiler (Hunter) slipped and started bouncing down the loose rocky area of the bowl. Probably the nastiest spill I'd ever seen! He stopped after 70 yards, and it's a wonder he survived. Made it down to him and he was beat up pretty bad. Managed to get him down to lake C and he was a hurtin' unit after that. He died a few months later supposedly to collateral internal injuries from the fall. Years later, I remember the exileration of the climb, and the pain of watching that dog bounce down our descent route. Sorry for the rant, but the climb is still one of my best memories and still plan to climb this with my kids some day!
I think I know what you are talking about. As you face the peak from the north, it's the snow line that cuts from right to left down low and then goes almost straight up (where Livine ended it all). Then a short ridge romp up and left to the summit? If we are talking about the same line, it's a hoot (great snow). I suggest doing it when there is ice on the section where it changes direction. It would be fun with ice, without it's loose, doable but loose. 5.8-ish but bring a trash can for all the trash. I think it's an old Army training route. Those guys are bad asses!!!Old Army climbs are amazing.