Monday, January 23, 2017

Peak of the Week: Blanca Peak

Blanca Peak and Little Bear
Blanca Peak, Colorado's 4th tallest mountain, on the left
Blanca Peak is special for a number of reasons. At 14,345' it is the fourth tallest mountain in the state of Colorado and the tallest outside of the Sawatch Range. It is also considered "ultra-prominent" and with 5,326 feet of topographical prominence is the third most prominent peak in the state (behind Elbert and Pikes). To make it even more interesting, Blanca is known as Sisnaajini, the "Sacred Mountain of the East" to the Navajo people. According to their beliefs it's orientation in the east, the direction of the sunrise and thus the beginning of the day, means that Blanca "determines the orientation of a person’s mind and physical presence on earth."

By many measures it is a worthy and interesting peak and is a mountain that should make Coloradoans proud. As the anchor and gem of the Sangre De Cristo Range, it is important for many reasons.

As with Little Bear, an ascent of Blanca Peak starts at the Lake Como trailhead. Turn onto Hwy 150 about 26 miles east of Alamosa heading towards the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Just over 3 miles later, follow a sign towards Lake Como. Go as far as your vehicle will allow you, as much as 7 miles all the way to Lake Como (for a burly off-roader).

Northwest Ridge (class 2)
This is the standard route on Blanca Peak and the easiest way to climb the peak. It is very long, however, and without a stout 4WD vehicle you will be forced to gain over 6,000' of elevation, making it one of the more serious undertakings in terms of stamina in the 14er world. Though there are some tricky ledges and steep terrain past the lake and above 13,000' the difficulty should never stretch into the class 3 realm.

Blanca-Little Bear Traverse (class 4)
This ultra-exposed traverse is listed in Gerry Roach's classic guidebook as one of the four classics 14er traverse in the state. He also considers it to be the most difficult. It is famous for exposure and commitment. Remember that you will have to climb Little Bear's famous "Hourglass" just to get started (most people do the traverse from Little Bear to Blanca.)

Blanca is a massive peak and takes a bit more grunt effort than many 14ers. It is also one of the four sacred peaks of the Navajo so treat it with respect!


Sisnaajini- A discussion of Blanca Peak by the Navajo Nation including many thoughts about what it means to them historically and symbolically. A detailed look at the standard route of Blanca Peak a detailed page of Blanca Peak including photos, route descriptions and more

Visit THE ARCHIVE: A list of most of our articles sorted by department

find us on facebook

Copyright notice: This website and all its contents are the intellectual property of and its authors. None of the content can be used or reproduced without the approval of

Climbing and mountaineering are dangerous!! Please see the DISCLAIMER page
For information about how to contact us, visit this link

No comments:

Post a Comment