Blanca Peak (Fourteener)

 
 
Trailhead: Lake Como Trailhead

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking                                    Map 

Directions:

  • Get onto U.S. 160 and drive towards the Town of Blanca.
  • Take Colorado 150 north towards the Great Sand Dunes.
  • Drive just over 3 miles, and hang a right onto Lake Como Road.  Lake Como Road is a dirt road.
  • There is a small parking area at the start of the road.
  • Most cars will be able to make it about 1.5 miles up Lake Como road - THIS IS THE PARKING AREA FOR 99.9% OF ALL VEHICLES!!!
  • From this point on it is about 5 miles up to Lake Como.  Blanca Peak is another 5 miles from Lake Como.

Hiking Distance: 10-12 miles (one way) - Hiking distance really depends upon how far you can drive up Lake Como Road. 

Description: We call this hike the "knee-grinder" because the hike along the 4X4 road leading up to Lake Como is absolutely brutal.  Along the way you'll inevitably encounter loose rocks that simply beg for you to twist your ankle on them.

Lake Como is the best spot to establish camp before attempting the hike up Blanca Peak (elevation 14,345').  Generally, the Lake offers a serene place to bed down for the evening, unless some ATV actually makes it up to the vicinity.

From Lake Como, it is five miles to the summit of Blanca.  The trail quickly jumps above timberline after you leave the Lake, heading into the obvious cirque.  Blanca's summit will become evident when you reach the base of the cirque. 

The last mile is very steep and difficult to climb when snow fields linger late into the summer.  Nonetheless, once you hit the summit, after 5,000 vertical feet, you will be amazed by the views of the surrounding mountains and the San Luis Valley.  We would not recommend doing this hike unless you are in good shape, or have 2-3 days to complete it. 

Also, the final approach to Blanca is usually covered with snow well into July.  Use caution and be ready to break out your self-arrest skills.

Worth Noting: Blanca is one of the four sacred peaks of the Navajo Indians.  You can easily climb up Ellingwood Point, another fourteener, if you decide to climb Blanca Peak.

Info on the Town of Blanca, CO: The Town of Blanca was founded in 1908 and is located in the San Luis Valley.  It is a neat, agricultural-based community with few amenities.  There are a couple of small restaurants and gas stations in case you need to catch a quick meal or pick up some last minute provisions.

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Josh T.,
Dec 30, 2009, 4:39 PM
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