Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Blanca Peak stands tall as the queen of the southern Rockies, 4th highest in the state overall. She’s the center of the Blanca Mastiff, a large grouping of peaks that rise above the San Luis Valley and Great Sand Dunes. Blanca isn’t an easy climb. You must first climb to Lake Como, and arduous hike in itself, before scrambling up to the summit. Start planning your trip with my Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide. 

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CLIMBING 14ERS HERE.

Blanca Peak Fast Facts

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Start by taking the Lake Como Road as far as your car is able. Park and head up the road. It’s 17 miles round-trip from the bottom of the road. If you have a 4WD and good clearance it’s possible to shave off a bit more. At Lake Como the road ends. Skirt around the left of the lake and pickup the trail.

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Begin picking your way up and over a series of moraines beyond Lake Como. The trail weaves around rock outcrops and along ledges, Look for cairns to find the right path forward if you get confused. The summit is hidden from view here to the right.

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Reach a basin where a small waterfall runs down the wall ahead of you. Head to its left where a series of switchbacks brings you up and over the next moraine. 

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Come upon another alpine lake and walk along its shoreline as you pass into the highest part of the basin. Here the hiking will turn more into scrambling.

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

To ascend the headwall here, traverse to your right and follow the route through a series of rock ledges that takes the path of least resistance up to the saddle. The route will switchback as you go – look for cairns. 

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Here you can see the rest of the route taken from Ellingwood Point. You have a steep scramble up the Northwest Ridge of Blanca left to reach the summit. Take a right at the saddle and follow the cairns up. Take your time, and check the weather before you proceed and as you go.

 Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Follow the final few hundred feet, the crux of the climb, and make a few Class 2+ moves that verge on true climbing and may seem exposed to some. The summit views are worth your effort!

Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide

Enjoy your time at the top, and leave yourself time to get to tree line before afternoon thunderstorms. If you have extra time, consider a traverse over to Ellingwood Point to bag two peaks in one day! I hope you enjoyed my Blanca Peak Standard Route Guide.

Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  2. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  3. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  4. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  5. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.

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About the Author: Alex Derr

Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.