Blanca 14ergolf

Planned to hike Little Bear to Blanca to Ellingwood.  Drove from Denver down to Pueblo late Friday night.  Got up early and finished the drive to Mount Blanca road arriving around 6 AM.  The Mount Blanca road is known as the “Toughest Roads in Colorado”.  I did not do enough research on this and did not take this too seriously as I read it in the 14er guides and assumed I would not have too many issues in my Jeep.  After driving past quite a few parked cars and passing a bunch of hikers who cheered me on, about 6 or so miles into the trail turned the corner and ran into what I now know is called JAWS 1.  Not knowing what obstacles were ahead and knowing I was about 1.5 miles to the top, I scouted the obstacle, and decided I could take it by staying low and making a quick turn right once dropping off the rock.  Turned out to be a bad idea, and glad I was able to get reversed off the obstacle without rolling.

Blanca and Ellingwood (20)

 

This is where I decided to park and start hiking.  I was glad I did after seeing JAWS 2 and JAWS 3.

Blanca and Ellingwood (99)

Started hiking and realized I left my helmet in Denver.  (And the 14er Checklist was bornJ)  I ran into a local up near the Lake who hikes Blanca every year around his birthday.  He gave me some information on Little Bear and I decided I did not have the proper gear and it was not a good idea to hike alone.

Blanca and Ellingwood (23)

So, I headed straight up Mt Blanca.   The climb to the top was quite steep and I think I got a little high on the ridge as the trail is hard to find.  I was surprised at the exposure at the top as you climb the spine to the summit.

Blanca and Ellingwood (67)

 

Beautiful views of the fall colors of Colorado.

Blanca and Ellingwood (46)

Not much footing at the top so had to get creative with a tee to hit a drive.

blanca_and_ellingwood_red

Headed from Blanca to Ellingwood.  Fortunately, i had met two traditional climbers on the top who were heading that way as well so we made the traverse together.  I was extremely glad I was not alone as we were in some very challenging, fairly technical spots.

Blanca and Ellingwood (72)

Made the summit and the climbers dropped off the opposite side of the mountain and I headed back down the face.  This was very challenging, extremely steep, loose rock made worst by the fact thunder moved on top of us.  I had a few hikers above me on the mountain so had to stay alert for sliding rock coming down.  Fortunately, I made it through the worst sections before the storm hit.  Thunder and hail set in and I hustled back to my Jeep as fast as I could.

Blanca and Ellingwood (93)