Blanca Peak

Elevation (feet): 14,345
Elevation (meters): 4,372
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Sangre de Cristo Range
State: Colorado
Latitude: 37.5772
Longitude: -105.485
Difficulty: Scramble
Best months for climbing: Jun, Jul, Aug
Year first climbed: 1874
First successful climber(s): Gilbert Thompson and Frank Carpenter
Nearest major airport: Colorado Springs, CO, Albuquerque, NM
Convenient Center: Fort Garland, Blanca, or   Alamosa, CO

Thanks to Terrill Thompson for adding this peak.

Blanca Peak is the fourth highest mountain in Colorado. It is the dominant mountain of the Sierra Blanca, looming majestically over the surrounding plains of Southern Colorado.

Its neighboring peaks are Ellingwood Peak and Little Bear Peak (both fourteeners), Colorado's 43rd and 44th highest mountains respectively. The peaks are connected by long sharp ridges with spectacular rock faces. Most climbers try to supplement their Blanca climbs with a half-mile traverse to/from Ellingwood Peak on a high connecting ridge.

All of South Central Colorado is a special place - remote and vast. Time seems non-existent here. Visiting Tibetans have commented on the scenery's reminding them of their homeland. The mountains are rugged and sudden, and feature some of the best climbing in Colorado in the Sierra Blanca and Sangro de Cristo ranges. Additional description courtesy aaron a. abeyta:

While the easiest way up the peak is via the north ridge, there are several very technical routes on the south side. Blanca is the fourth highest peak in Colorado and the highest southern peak in the u.s. to find a higher peak to the south, you would have to travel to the volcanoes of Mexico. some interesting features of this peak include an almost sheer south face and two neighboring 14,000 ft. neighbors (Ellingwood & Little Bear). Usually Ellingwood and Blanca can be bagged on the same day, but to reach little bear via the knife edge ridge does require technical skill and equipment (ropes, harnesses etc.). in my opinion it is the most beautiful of Colorado's peaks. i am especially intrigued by the ridges which connect the three peaks. they seem to extend, almost symmetrically, like two arms defining the sky and the sheer walls which fall to either side. the peak is a sacred mountain of the Navajo. to me it is a sort of promised land. no cliché intended, but Blanca defines the valley it looks over. for a spirit to leave the valley, it would need to cross over Blanca's white peaks. so in that sense it is a promised land because it is the gate to that place we seek when climbing. adios. be well.

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 35 trip reports for Blanca Peak.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #20571 - by greg Gooch on Jan 02, 2007
    my first climb of 2004. as usual got altitiude sickness. was not a pleasant descent.
  • Log #8673 - by Ken Whittenburg on Nov 07, 2004
    Very difficult Colorado 14er climb. Getting off the right line is very easy to do and we did it a bunch- getting into class 4 and low class 5 situations. Go slow and study the route.
  • Log #8672 - by Kirk Mallory on Nov 06, 2004
    This was my 40th Colorado fourteener and one of my hardest yet. Lots of sustained scrambling and some exposure on good solid rock, but there is some loose rubble to watch out for. We approached the...
  • Log #8671 - by Rob Walters on Nov 05, 2004
    We did the Ellingwood Arete. Great Weather, except for falling climbers. There was someone soloing the route above us in hiking boots (route is 5.7)who fell at the crux (apx.
  • Log #8670 - by Robert Norris on Nov 04, 2004
    What a fantastic fourteener, the route is pure fun, the conglomerate scrambling is a joy, all 900 feet of it. We got a little off-route on the way down (make sure you pay attention to how you came up...
  • Log #8669 - by Josh VonLoh on Nov 03, 2004
    I breezed up it with some guys I met from St. Louis, while my 6'9" ogre friend toiled behind and never summited. I saw some marmots, and mountain goats too.
  • Log #8647 - by Jason Cleckler on Nov 01, 2004
    We summited via the Ellingwood Arete which was an amazing climb. Watch out for the weather and the marmots.
  • Log #8648 - by Cory Gosorn on Nov 01, 2004
    1st 14ner ever and it was great
  • Log #8649 - by Mike Brown on Nov 01, 2004
    Awesome, best 14er I have done yet! Just steep enough to really mek you concentrate.
  • Log #8650 - by Jason Halladay on Nov 01, 2004
    On May 24th, 2002 we climbed the Ellingwood Arete route. Temperature never got above freezing and it snowed on us making the day a long, cold one. The major cracks and moves were filled with ice and...
  • Log #8651 - by Steve Gladbach on Nov 01, 2004
    John Hunyadi led all the pitches the Ellingwood Arete Direct for my 14th ascent of the Needle. I've climbed the 1st and second colouirs on the SW side, completed the traverse both to and from...
  • Log #8652 - by Chad on Nov 01, 2004
    Moonlight ascend of Ellingwood Arete... well, at least an attempt. Started climbing when the sun started going down. Hit the ledges just as the moon started sneaking behind some storm clouds.
  • Log #8653 - by Rick Hoffman on Nov 01, 2004
    I made this climb with my son, Mark. Just started the 14er's 2 years ago at age 50 and this was number 25 for me and 15 for him. It was a great trip on solid rock. Saw lightning by 10:30 on summit.
  • Log #8654 - by Dan Wiedrich on Nov 01, 2004
    This is an awesome peak! I made it to the top of the Needle from lower south colony lake twice in 3 days. The 1st day we started going toward broken hand pass under increasing cloud cover. After the...
  • Log #8655 - by Ryan Sayers on Nov 01, 2004
    Ellingwood Arete was super fun, but I think I got lost at the crux. Should I have taken the horrendous double-overhanging offwidth? Ooohhh, it was pumpy in the rain - thank God for expandable tube...
  • Log #8656 - by Alan on Nov 01, 2004
    Ellingwood Arete route: Man, this was fun. Lots of exposure. We did three roped at the bottom.
  • Log #8657 - by Tim Callaway on Nov 01, 2004
    Summited with scott Kelley. Cold, windy, sturdy rock, started snowing. special gear not needed if correct route is taken. I did it in baggy jeans with no knees, a shirt reading "pshyc...
  • Log #8658 - by Matt Kirk on Nov 01, 2004
    Greetings 14er climbers and enthusiasts. I just wanted to let everyone know that there should be a 14ers forum coming soon at If you have the time, please come by and...
  • Log #8659 - by Samuel Johnson on Nov 01, 2004
    Ellingwood Arete (5.7/5.8) is a very fun winter alpine climb, features can become very slippery and difficult to find purchase following snows and melts. A fun experience, punching ice out of cracks...
  • Log #8660 - by Scott Kelley on Nov 01, 2004
    Awesome climb,...but the winds were about 50 mph. Oh well, this has got to be one of the coolest peak I've climbed.
  • Log #8661 - by David Michael on Nov 01, 2004
    Mark Harko & I climbed the direct Ellingwood Arete. Everything was going great untill the 13 & 1/2 hour snow storm hit us at 13,000'. We climbed for about an hour in the storm, but got pinned...
  • Log #8662 - by Jay Jansen on Nov 01, 2004
    One of the Best. Came from the Peak via the traverse. Very exposed Class 3+ and VERY VERY exposed Class4+. One of the most difficult yet exciting climbs I have ever done.
  • Log #8663 - by Mickey Hines on Nov 01, 2004
    We had perfect conditions at the Summit on August 10, 2000 at 1:30 pm. There was no wind, and good visibility in all directions - an unforgettable moment. Bob Huitt led me from the South Colony Lakes...
  • Log #8664 - by Jarrett Luttrell on Nov 01, 2004
    Matt Halbakken and I followed Albert's Pitons to the Center of the Universe!
  • Log #8646 - by Michael Jake on Aug 02, 2004
    Climbed Ellingwood Ledges (Arete) route with my friend Rob Shaw. We did the standard start up to the red tower, then scrambled up to the start of the 2 harder roped pitches. We used a topo from...
  • Log #8645 - by Jason Halladay on Aug 01, 2004
    Myself and two others climbed the needle via the traverse from Crestone Peak. With a high camp in Spanish Creek were we able to climb the North Buttrees of Crestone Peak, do the traverse to the...
  • Log #8644 - by Tom Crosman on July 31, 2004
    More fun in Feb. The basin by the lake is one big solar collector. Burn city. Snow cave about 12,500.
  • Log #8643 - by Mark Sokol on July 30, 2004
    My partner and I climbed the Ellingwood Arete using the direct start from North Colony lake (5.4). We started at 6am and summited at 11:15am. It was a very successfull and brilliant climb. We only...
  • Log #8642 - by Charles W. Miller Ph.D. on Aug 04, 2003
    Went with professional guides and a group of 3 others. The guides wee too rambunctious and left the other hikers one by one; I was by far the oldest a age 54. I think we could have made it with more...
  • Log #8641 - by ROBERT HENSHAW on Aug 03, 2003
    Scree on Broken Hand Pass tends to make you concerned about the route up the Needle. Route up needle very solid but if surface becomes wet can be very slippery.
  • Log #8640 - by Derrick on Aug 02, 2003
    Crestone knob climbing to me is the best fourteener experience. The Needle is one of the funnest climbs I've ever done. Broken Hand pass is a little frustrating, but it actually doesn't take that...
  • Log #8639 - by Henderson on Aug 01, 2003
    I camped out by the lakes, and it took me about 7-1/2 hours. The clouds were low, I felt bad, and I got off route quite a bit. The rock was not as solid as I would of liked, I would recommend a...
  • Log #8638 - by Dan Bowers & Peter C. Key on July 31, 2003
    Got hit by a rock. Helmets are key on Brokenhand pass.
  • Log #8637 - by leonard martinez on July 30, 2003
    It started out as a beautiful Saturday. Clear blue sky. At about 1115hrs my son, ragnar(my golden), and I decided to take an atv ride up the south colony trail and go for a little hike. To make a...
  • Log #8636 - by Dean Carpenter on July 29, 2003
    A fierce class 3 it took 8 hours from south colony trailhead and back. Made a wrong move at the big crevice had to do some class 4 to get out. Hell of a view, I love the Sangre's. Their full of great...