Huerfano River Trail

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.57770°N / 105.4859°W
Additional Information Route Type: Basic Snow/Glacier Climb, Technical Rock Climb, Ic
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 4 to 5.6 climbing
Sign the Climber's Log


The Huefano River provides excellent access to the incredible East and North faces of Blanca and Ellingwood Point. This is also the access point for Mt. Lindsey, California Peak and the spectacular Lily Lake.

Their are fine technical routes up Blanca's East face as well as the sweeping ridge route known as Gash Ridge that stretches eastward from Blanca's summit.

The variability in the rock from the Huerfano valley demands constant attention and can go from a solid seam to loose choss very quickly. In general it is high alpine climbing in fine form.

To reach the Blanca group trail head commence as follows:

From Denver travel South on I-25 to Walsenburg. Exit at Walsenburg and follow Hwy 69 westerly to the town of Gardner. Continue westerly through Gardner a mile or so to an intersection where Hwy 69 and CR550 intersect. Go due West on 550 until the road intersects with CR570 at which point 550 becomes CR580. Continue Westerly on 580 until you drive through the Singing River Ranch. The property surrounding the ranch is private and the road becomes rough, but passable above it. There is camping along the road above the ranch and very good camping at the roads end.

Access to Lindsey, Blanca, Ellingwood, California and Lily Lakes all originate at the same trail head. It is the same drainage. The trail is good for a while then crosses the Huerfano river and the trail scatters a bit so route finding savy is very helpful in this area.

Route Description

Blanca and Ellingwood may be climbed in a long difficult day from here.
Proceed up the Lily Lake trail 1.6 miles to 11,600ft. Leave the trail and head toward a low point on the ridge running north off of Ellingwood. Ascend loose talus, grassy ledges, and sections of steep slab granite until you gain the ridge. The ridge is serrated and consists of exposed blocky granite. Try to ascend so as to meet the ridge at it's low point coming off of Ellingwood. Ascend slabs and rock bands, 5.3, to Ellingwood's summit. Continue .5 miles to the summit of Blanca.

There is a gully and rock rib that make up Blanca's North face which can be used as an ascent route or a descent route. The gully is snow or ice packed and the surrounding rock is steep and loose. The downclimb via this gully involves moving gently from grassy ledge to grassy ledge looking for solid enough blocks to use as anchors. It may be entirely downclimbed or rappelled and goes at loose class 4+ to 5.5 climbing.

Essential Gear

If you are on this side of the mountain you should know what you need!!

But beyond that, bring runners that you won't mind stuffing into cracks and behind chockstones or at most leaving behind. A standared 50 or 60m rope is sufficient. Mountain boots are fine, it's more mountaineering than rock cragging.

The gully running down Blanca's Northerly face requires axe and crampons and you may end up in there, so bring them.

Additional pro would be small to med stoppers, hexes and cams.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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