Climbing any Colorado fourteener is quite strenuous for most, with some of the more remote peaks meaning ridiculously long hikes for hopeful summit-baggers. One of these hikes is the two-peak route up 14,345-foot Blanca Peak and 14,042-foot Ellingwood Point, boasting more than 18 miles of roundtrip hiking with close to 7,000 feet of vertical gain. While many people prefer to split this hike into multiple days, camping overnight at Lake Como, it can also be completed in one long push.
This hike starts with a climb up Lake Como Road – one of the roughest roads in the state of Colorado. Winding through aspen groves and over massive boulders, this stretch makes up approximately five miles of the route each way. Very few vehicles are able to make it up this road, even those modified for rock crawling.
Upon reaching Lake Como, hikers are able to spot Little Bear Peak – one of the most dangerous fourteeners to climb in the state and the neighboring peak of Blanca. As hikers continue their ascent past Lake Como along an easy-to-follow route, the trail gets steeper and rockier as it climbs above a waterfall and multiple alpine lakes.
Eventually, hikers reach a saddle where they're able to head right toward Blanca Peak or left toward Ellingwood Point. Those looking to climb both mountains often start with Blanca as this route can be easier to find.
The approach up Blanca is rated as difficult class two, though some of the moves should probably be rated as class three. This ridge is quite steep and exposed, often subject to extreme wind.
From the summit of Blanca, hikers have great views of Mount Lindsey, Little Bear Peak, Ellingwood Point, and the distant Spanish Peaks.
After summiting Blanca, hikers looking to bag Ellingwood Point can return to the saddle, opting to take either a class two route or a class three route to the summit.
While the class three traverse route to the top of Ellingwood is exposed and route-finding can be tricky, most of it feels less technical than portions of the standard ascent up Blanca Peak. This also cuts out approximately 300-feet of additional climbing compared to the class two option.
Once on the 14,042-foot summit of Ellingwood Point, hikers have a stunning view of Little Bear Peak, along with the alpine lakes below. Navigating from the top of the peak back down into the gully can be difficult and requires quite a bit of route finding. Know the route beforehand to avoid the risk of heading down loose class four terrain.
A long and strenuous hike sure to leave peak baggers exhausted, the hike to the summit of Blanca and Ellingwood makes for an unforgettable experience in a remote place seen by few.