September 19, 2017
ROUTE: Climbing Blanca and Ellingwood from the Lake Como Approach can be done by either traversing the Class 3 ridge between the two peaks or by descending back to the "standard" trail and then up to the next peak. The later option requires several hundred feet more of elevation re-gain, but it keeps the difficulty at "Difficult Class 2." This route description will briefly describe the Class 2 option but focus mainly on the Class 3 traverse.
The traverse can be made in either direction, but I have chosen to describe it from Ellingwood-to-Blanca. Photo #1 is a broad view of the ridge connecting the two peaks. Climb to the Ellingwood summit where you have a good look at the remaining challenge to reach Blanca's summit - Photo #2. Start back down Ellingwood's East Ridge (Photo #3) toward the rugged ridge connecting the two peaks. Near 13,800', and before the difficulties of the ridge, descend to the right (Photo #4) to reach a vague "trail" about 150' below the ridge crest and turn left onto the steep rock below the ridge. Look for cairns and begin your traverse below the ridge crest. Photo #5 shows some of the scrambling below the ridge. Nearly half way across the ridge, carefully cross a gully (Photo #6) which contains some loose, white rock. Photo #7 and Photo #8 are good reference photos which show the location of the gully. Continue (Photo #9) southeast on the tiny, cairned trail and after traversing for a while near 13,600', the route becomes easier. Photo #10 looks back on the traverse and Photo #11 is a closer look at the final difficulties. After passing beneath a notch in the lowest part of the ridge, follow easier terrain to reach the main Blanca trail. Turn left (Photo #12) and continue up Blanca's Northwest Ridge route. From Blanca, Photo #13 looks back on the entire traverse.