Ascent of Ellingwood Point on 2019-09-07

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Dan Connors
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 7, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Ellingwood Point
    Elevation:14042 ft / 4280 m

Ascent Trip Report

Having not completed this hike 5 years ago due to a bear eating our food at Lake Como, Dan and I returned with a solid bear canister and intent on bagging this sweet peak by way of the classic class 3 ridge that Gerry Roach writes up in his 14ers book and the nice layout in Our plan was to leave FRI night and drive the 4.5 hours from Evergreen to the TH, park as high up as we were comfortable, then backpack up as quickly as possible to bear the predicted rains after 3PM. We did so and set up camp with only a minor amount of rain and lightening. We had the entire Lake Como area to ourselves for some crazy reason.

Ok the drive - I had parked as low as 8100 before and a buddy sneaked a car to the last pull out at 8800 before but this was MY TRUCK This time and I did not want to kill it. It is a stock 4x4 Nissan Frontier without an off road package. We ended up parking at 8770 two spaces short of the last easy pull out at 8800. Most trip report show people pulling out at 8650 with stock 4x4 and high clearance AWD types vehicles. We wanted to see what was reasonable if we had continued. This is what we observed:

1) it looks like it might get nasty after 8800 but actually my stock 4x4 truck even WITHOUT an off road package could have continued. We observed a Toyota forerunner and stock 4x4 jeep go all the way to to 10,000 feet hairpin and park just before the first small "jaws"
2) but if you are not overly adventurous you can certainly with a stock 4x4 truck go beyond 8800 feet as the relentless cobblestones start to dissipate and give way to a more dirt steep track.But the parking turnouts become far and few between making many drivers weary of how to turn around if they get over their head?
3) In the easier dirt track with fewer rocks we observed a good turnout in hairpin number 2 at elevation 9400; another turnout for parking at 9730 we could have made with my stock 4x4 truck. This is near where you will see a mile marker 3.0
4) After the hairpin curve at elevation 10,000 and the two or three spaces to park it really gets harder for a stock 4x4. Jeeps could continue with an off road package but there is no way I would think of taking my car above this spot. You will recognize it for sure as it is the first place where rock obstructions start to emerge from the ground. Like a "mini-jaws" This is where we saw a stock Fore-Runner parked by the way.
5) If more aggressive vehicles continue there is a sign for the off road drivers club with one more easy pull out (after you make it past the first true obstruction). That space if available is great but after that you are fully committed and better have a jacked up vehicle as one more hairpin curve of road and suddenly at around 10,100 it gets real steep and rocky and is not for any normal vehicle.

So we would recommend for typical 4x4 stock trucks and SUVs stop by 8800 and if you are aggressive (or have an off-road package jeep) you can make up around 10,000 but after that......I certainly would not think about trying. We did see a 450cc ATV make it all the way to Como but that driver was really good to make it past the upper jaws obstructions.

OK now the hiking..............we wanted to do the classic class 3 SW ridge route. has an excellent photographed route. Roach calls the entire route no more than class 3. Middleton in calls it class 3 from the "headwall" forward but acknowledges there are a few arguably class 4 sections.
Dan and I agree that it is basically a solid class 3 route and we did not encounter anything we would call class 4 but there is some tricky hand hold spots and considerable exposure in many places so it is not an easy class 3 all the way so I would call the crux places class 3+

The gully climb past the waterfall starts as nasty talus but you can climb to the right side on class 2+ to some easy 3 for half way up. Once in the gully it is class 2 but you can hang near the right rock wall and scramble some 2+ to 3 to stay out of the lose rock. We did. The right arm of the gully we stumbled on to by scrambling over the wall rock. As Roach and Middleton describe this approach is all 2 and 2+ (unless you stray off deliberately to avoid lose rock) all the way up to the headwall feature.

The East (left side) of the headwall is solid classic class 3 and you are on the side of the ridge so the exposure is not noticeable as you are face down scrambling looking for your hand holds. It is not until you are on the ridge that the scrambling bounces back and forth between class 2, 2+ and 3 but now you contend with knife edge exposure most of the way. So the actual scrambling does not require any technical skills as mostly class 2+ and 3 but there is a few exposed knife edges that are starting. Dan was able to walk across all of these exposed knife edges but a few I had to walk in a squatted position as the consequences of falls on these edges was very high although the technical rock work was never difficult.

I would rate this route as harder than the standard way up Longs Peak through the keyhole and chock stone, harder than Kit Carson, but easier than the traverse from Fletcher to Quandary.

The views were some of the best I can recall with great angles on Blanca, Little Bear, Lindsey, Twin Peaks and multiple glacial lakes and valleys.

We came down mostly the started class 2 talus way but we hated the moving rock so stayed away from the cairned routes and found a solid gully with mostly class 2+ and some 3 that was actually easier on the feet and ankles. My GPD points exceed what the site will allow to load so it is saved not on the TR>
GPD picked up a lot of up and down climbing back in the glacial lakes plus we upclimbed a couple of formations so we picked up about 1000 feet in add gain according to my GPS tracker

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6272 ft / 1910 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1000 ft / 303 m
    Round-Trip Distance:15.5 mi / 24.9 km
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
see TR
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5672 ft / 1728 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5272 ft / 1607 m; Extra: 400 ft / 121m
    Loss on way in:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:7.5 mi / 12.1 km
    Route:Lake Como to the Class 3 SW Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Lake Como Road elevation   8770 ft / 2673 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:600 ft / 182 m
    Gain on way out:600 ft / 182 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Class 2 and 2+ Standard

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