Route StatsMountains: Ellingwood Point (14,042’)
Route: Backpacked up from 9800’. Reached shack by Lake Como at 2:30AM. Started skinning to the upper basin at 9:30AM Saturday. Climbed a couloir on the South Face to the summit of Ellingwood Point and descended a slightly different route on the face.
Elevation Gain - 4250’ (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage ~ 16 miles
With winter weekends running out and the upcoming loss of a weekend to work-related travel to 14er-free Arizona, I was open to suggestions that included, “Hey, let’s go risk breaking our silly necks for two 14ers this weekend”. Doumall and I left work rather late on Friday, picked up Debbie and drove south towards the tiny town of Blanca at the base of three of my favorite mountains in this State (Little Bear along with Grays and Torreys (ugh) is the only 14er I’ve summitted three times). It was Doumall’s intention to ski Ellingwood and Little Bear and Debbie’s, as always, to just get out and have a fun day. We reached the base of Lake Como road at ~10PM and drove up the super-highway (some background on me if you’re unfamiliar with the road… I can be Very sarcastic if I want) to 9800’, just below the first big difficulty on the road before the rolling hills of the canyon that precedes Jaws 1. We’d packed fairly heavy packs… 60lbs or so I would estimate if I were to Hail Mary a guess. Doumall and I carried a 30m rando each, with harnesses, ice tools, avy gear and ice/rock pro for a potential attempt on Little Bear on Sunday. I was also carrying roughly 5kg of food for the 2 day weekend. Lately I have been overestimating my ageing appetite. We reached the shack at Lake Como at around 2:30AM, unpacked sleeping bags and turned in. A fitful sleep with poorly acclimatizing sub-sea-level 100% humiditous lungs that were my birthright saw me wake every 5 minutes wondering why the f^%# I would want to climb 14ers in the first place. While it was still dark I heard snowshoers scurrying past in a hurry as I transitioned into my next fit of slumber. Clearly this was the Migou, hauling sacks of seaweed through the forest. I sought not to interfere with his ravages or judge his misdemeanor, but I digress.
On the Trail
Our slumberacity was disturbed by bright light streaming in through the space under the door of the shack. It was 8:30AM. Lazily we rose and geared up. After picking up our skis we oozed (shamelessly, I might add) out the door and into the lake below at 9:30AM… a fine alpine start indeed. We skinned to the base of the headwall below the upper basin where snow conditions turned icy and slippery. Here we shouldered our skis and booted up the rest of the headwall…
Booter up the Head Wall
Following which we skinned and traversed some serious hardpack lined with rime to the base of the couloirs we were going to climb.
Debbie Skins up Ellingwood
At the base of the couloir we broke for a bite to eat. Debbie and I stashed our skis and decided to boot up the rest of the way. We spiked up and I started setting a boot track up the first half of highly variable snow. The array went through sastrugi-ed hardpack to wind hammered icing over deep sugar to unconsolidated and highly unstable warm mush near rocks.
Couloir up S. Face
Here’s a video of Debbie reaching a short recess on the couloir…
Joe took over and continued setting the booter to the ridge.
The ridge was reached. The weather looked perfect…
One Fine Ridge
Afore mentioned Fine
The ridge over to Blanca looked divine but we had to forego that opportunity thanks to our languor earlier in the day (the Migou wrote to me earlier in the week, claiming full responsibility).
RidgeOver to Blanca Later?
Summit and Descent
We made summit at around 2:30PM or so. Doumall was able to ski off the summit…
Summit Ski Descent for Joe
The views from this massif are among my favorite in the state. When not climbing I greatly enjoy taking pictures of extreme skiers who do things I can’t dream of… Doumall rips it up…
Running with the Devil
With Blanca in the background and whippet in hand…
He rips it up some more…
Jumpin' Jack Flash
and even more…
Sir Mix-a-lot JUMPS ON IT!
Down this high 40s angled shaizen that Debbie and I plunge-stepped down in our crampons…
Some spots showed fair glissade potential but the rest was too hardpacked and variable to risk it, especially with crampons on.
First semi-glissade of season
We got down to our skis, picked them up and skied the remaining God-awful snow back to the shack. I would much prefer casting a veil of modesty over the several untold comic spills and epic thrills. Suffice it to say that we reached the shack before sunset. We set up a roaring fire to roast our frost-nipped circulation free toes and discussed plans for Little Bear the following day.
For more pictures of Joe’s ski refer to his report on the local forum at http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=5688&cpgm=tripmain