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Blanca Peak

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Gash Ridge T 
Little Bear-Blanca Traverse T 
Ormes Buttress T 

Blanca Peak Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 14,345'
Location: 37.5772, -105.485 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 19,589
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Julian Smith on Aug 14, 2003
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Blanca Peak, Christmas Day 2010.


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.

Getting There 

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.

Climbing Season

Weather station 10.1 miles from here

3 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Blanca Peak

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Blanca Peak:
Gash Ridge   Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c     Trad, Alpine, Grade III   
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'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Blanca Peak

Featured Route For Blanca Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: The route is easily seen on approach from the Huer...

Gash Ridge Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c  Colorado : Alpine Rock : Blanca Peak
Gash Ridge is an excellent way to summit Blanca via climbing that is more exciting the normal hike of most 14'ers. Once ascending out of the Huerfano River valley onto the ridge, you encounter increasingly more difficult terrain until you are near the summit of Blanca Peak While the climbing is never difficult by rock standards, the exposure will excite most who attempt the route. Passing the gash and the climbing immediately afterward makes the crux of the route. As with many routes of thi...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Blanca Peak Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Blanca Peak as seen from the Huerfano approach.
Blanca Peak as seen from the Huerfano approach.
Rock Climbing Photo: Blanca Peak, side view of the North face.
BETA PHOTO: Blanca Peak, side view of the North face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Blanca group after a big dump of snow.
Blanca group after a big dump of snow.
Rock Climbing Photo: Blanca group from the south. 11/17/10.
Blanca group from the south. 11/17/10.
Rock Climbing Photo: Blanca,the striking traverse, and Ellingwood from ...
Blanca,the striking traverse, and Ellingwood from ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lake Como road, although not at first in a proper ...
Lake Como road, although not at first in a proper ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Blanca Peak front view of North Face
BETA PHOTO: Blanca Peak front view of North Face

Comments on Blanca Peak Add Comment
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By Theo Barker
From: Loveland, CO
Mar 17, 2006
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/Talkeetna, Alask
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
By joshua deuto
Aug 22, 2007
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.
By climber chuck
Nov 18, 2007
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!
By Clifford Mallory
From: Casper WY
Nov 2, 2010
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.

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