Use the Como Lake Trailhead access. Hike along the Como Lake trail past Como Lake as if you were taking the standard South Face route to Ellingwood. You will leave this trail early though to gain the SW Ridge.
Start from the Como Lake Trailhead. Hike along the jeep road past the Blue Lakes and up the switchbacks at the waterfall. At a small unnamed lake at 12,540 (before Crater Lake), follow a black, water-polished rock that leads up to Ellingwood's SW ridge. It is a ledge marked with cairns that leads diagonally up the ridge and involves some Class 3 climbing. The notch on top of the ridge is at 12,940 ft. Follow the ridge all the way to the summit. It is continuous Class 3 scrambling with a fair amount of exposure. 2 knife-edge make it an exhiliarating climb. It is easier to stay on the ridge the enire time rather than skirting or negotiating notches in the ridge. That takes time and it is easily climbed over. Don't drop below the ridge more than 5 feet. The first half of the ridge is easier-- the second half becomes more exposed and steep. No surprises or extremely difficult points though. The rock is pretty bombproof but be sure to test your holds as the exposure increases higher on the ridge.
This is a great alternative to the Class 2 South Face route on loose talus. If you are experienced with 3rd class climbing, this is the recommended route.
-Lighthiking boots for scrambling
-sunglasses if you climb early in the morning (which you should) because the sun will be rising directly over your goal in the east
-a helmet is a nice security for falls or rock fall near the summit
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Ryan Schilling's Trip Report: