A Como-Free Alternative via c2

Page Type
Route
Location:
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking
Season:
Summer
Time Required:
A long day
Difficulty:
moderate
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

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A Como-Free Alternative via c2
Created On: Sep 9, 2010
Last Edited On: Sep 9, 2010

Overview

Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
One of the biggest complaints to gaining the summit of Blanca, Little Bear and Ellingwood Point has been the requirement to ascend the dreaded Lake Como Road, if one can call it that. Few vehicles are able to travel the length of it, leaving a 5 mile sweaty grind up a very loose, rocky surface. Otherwise, the only other described route involves a technical climb from the north, via the Huerfano drainage. This describes an enjoyable, non-technical hike to the summit of Ellingwood Point which avoids all of the afore mentioned difficulties.

Getting There

Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Access to the trailhead is the same for Zapata Falls. According to the nps.gov website, "Zapata Falls is accessed from U.S. Highway 150, south of Great Sand Dunes. Between mile marker 10 and 11 is the access to Zapata Falls; the turn-off is to the east. Look for the "Zapata Falls Recreation Area" road sign. The trailhead is approximately 3.5 miles (5.8 km)from the turn-off. Follow the unpaved road (two wheel drive vehicles should have no trouble in good weather conditions) to a parking lot, picnic area, exhibits, and an accessible restroom."
The trail starts at 9000' elevation and heads up to the falls at 0.5 miles, then diverges off toward S. Zapata Lake at 9400'. Follow this steady uphill trail to the alpine lake, just above treeline, at 12,000'. There are several areas suitable for camping near the lake.

Route Description

Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Como-Free Route to Ellingwood Point
Proceed SE past the lake toward the scree slopes. There is an obvious, dark central couloir at the low point in the ridge. This has been referred to as the "Crossfire Couloir". The route stays to the right (west) of this in the adjacent couloir (we dubbed "c2 gully"), which is an approx. 900' scree/talus slope to the ridge. Climb this slope until you gain the ridge top. Once on the ridge, proceed east, or left, and behind (south) of the prominence, which is easier than the ridge top itself. Continue on or just below the ridge until it connects with the north ridge of Ellingwood Point. This connection is past the difficulties described by Gary Roach in the Huerfano approach, and does not present any technical difficulties. Continue south (right) up this ridge toward the summit. Before reaching the summit, it is necessary to descend slightly to the west (right) side of the ridge along obvious ledges. There is some exposure here, but nothing technical. This will lead to the last of the "traditional" route from Lake Como, and a short climb to the summit to the (now) north.

Essential Gear

Basic summit day gear required. If backpacking to the lake (recommended), appropriate backpacking supplies needed. This is a non-technical route, however, a helmet is recommended due to loose rock encountered, particularly on the initial scree slope.

External Links

A similar trip report, gaining the ridge up an adjacent couloir, was described in the trip report:

For information on the trailhead and the falls: