I started hiking from the Lily Lake Trailhead at 5:11 am using my headlamp. I passed a couple that turned around because they left something in their car. I took the right indicated by a sign reading "Lily Lake", then a left at the second Lily Lake sign indicating a right. I continued up the wet trail and soon got great views of alpenglow on Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point.
Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point illuminated by morning alpenglow
I passed a tent just below treeline and a curious deer. I continued up the drainage east of Point 13360. I could see two people on the ridge. I assume these were the people camping in Huerfano Valley. The last 100 vertical feet were very loose. As soon as I got to the saddle I saw to young goats. They ran off as soon as I continued climbing. I then climbed Gash Ridge effortlessly to the crux. At this point I saw two parties downclimbing the fourth class variation of Gash Ridge. The hardest part of the crux was that the route was not visible. I found some slings for rapelling on the south side of the ridge, but didn't want to downclimb for no reason, so I investigated the route staying true to the ridge and was not difficult, but highly exposed, especially on the north side. I wouldn't want to climb it wet. I continued up to the summit staying true to the ridge. It took me four hours to reach the summit.
Huerfano County Highpoint
A group of three on the summit questioned me about why I was rushing off. I told them that I had a commiting route ahead of me. It was at this point I was willing to attempt the downclimb of Ellingwood Point's North Ridge. En route to Ellingwood Point, I made the short detour to the highpoint of Huerfano County.
I continued over to Ellingwood Point passing 2 parties and seeing many more below. Once I got to Ellingwood, I saw one person on the summit. It took me five hours to get to the summit of Ellingwood Point from the Lily Lake Trailhead. I climbed over to the start of the North Ridge route and gave the route one last, long thought. According to Dawson and Roach, the top of the route is tricky. I found this very straightforward. I continued to the Ellingwood Point-UN 13618 saddle and started downclimbing. This was the crux of the route for me.
Ellingwood Point's North Ridge Crux
This was sustained 5th class climbing with threatening weather. I tried to move safely and efficiently, but constantly had to retrace my steps to find a less technical line. At one point it began to sleet, but did not persist enough to cause the rock to get dangerously wet. I finally got down to the scree field below the rock wall and was not too relieved to deal with the loose scree. I grabbed one last photo of Blanca and Ellingwood. I made my way to the Lily Lake Trail and made my way down to my car. It took me eight hours to complete the loop.
Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point
Class 5.3, ~8.1 miles with ~4,300' of elevation gain. Click to enlarge.