August 9, 2020
The mile-and-one-half ridge between Little Bear Peak (14,037') and Blanca Peak (14,345') - right to left above - "is Colorado's most astonishing connecting ridge", writes Gerry Roach in his Colorado Fourteeners guidebook. The climbing is not technical nor is it difficult, never really exceeding Class 4 moves, but the ridge is intimidating with lots of exposure, undulating back and forth, up and down, with loose rock just waiting to crumble in your fingers or under a narrow foothold. Route finding on the ridge is very easy essentially because you just don't have that many options. Most of the climb you stay on the very apex of the ridge. Exceptions being skirting the "Captain Bivwacko Tower" to the left (looks hard but only requires one highly exposed move) and then later skirting Point 13,860 to the right. Most of the ridge is standard ridge stuff with large blocky rocks to navigate, flattened foot path catwalks atop the ridge proper, short detours off the ridge to avoid steep vertical sections of poor quality rock, and the unavoidable knife edge sections that require the stand-up, one foot in front of the other, eyes closed, hands out for balance technique... or the 'butt scoot'. Generally speaking, the rock and climbing are better on the Little Bear side of the ridge. After the Dinosaur ridge section, heading towards Blanca, the exposure eases and the rock becomes more rotten, except for a couple of knife edge sections.
View of the ridge leading to Blanca Peak with Ellingwood Point to the left (Above and Right)
A look back at Gladstone and Little Bear from summit of Blanca (above and below)
Summiting Blanca Peak, Erin would achieve her 49th 14er summit and Michael would achieve his 58th and final Colorado 14er summit. Much call for lifting a fine craft beer in celebration. The traverse took us about three hours to cover the mile and a half ridge, reaching the summit of Blanca Peak before noon. Taking our time to pick our route, it was one of the more enjoyable climbing experiences I have ever had, and I was glad I could share it with two great people with skills and confidence. While there was considerable exposure, not once did I feel insecure. It was just a wonderful climb and a fun day.