A Wintery Memorial Day in the Sierra Blanca

05/24/2008 to 05/25/2008

It was summer down in the San Luis Valley, but the clouds of winter didn't want to leave the Sierra Blanca and we climbed in wintery conditions.

Blanca Peak shrouded in clouds as we approached Lake Como.
Ryan trudges through the snow on the way into the upper basin.
This is what passed for a sunrise during our climb of Blanca and Ellingwood. Both summits are shrouded in clouds, as they would remain for much of the day.
This is me posing in front of the sunset during our climb of Ellingwood and Blanca.
Brian takes his turn posing in front of the sunrise.
Blanca Peak is shrouded in clouds for the sunrise on May 25th.
As the morning progressed, the clouds got lower.
Brian approaches the summit of Ellingwood Point in tough winter conditions. Notice the rime on those rocks... as much as 6 inches in some places!
The clouds cleared just a bit as Brian neared the summit of Ellingwood Point. Now I could see down to Blanca-Ellingwood saddle.
And the clouds quickly returned in the time that it took Brian to gain only 10 or 20 vertical feet.
Summit shot on Ellingwood Point. It's hard to see in this picture, but there was frost on my beard and eyelashes and eyebrows.
This panoramic shot shows what conditions were like. Up among the high peaks it was cloudy and socked in. Down in the valley you can see the boundary between summer and winter. In the distance we could see that the San Juans were nice and clear.
Ryan pauses near the low point of our traverse from Ellingwood to Blanca. Ellingwood's summit is behind him on the left.
Brian tops out on Blanca Peak.
The clouds cleared out for a while as we sat on Blanca's summit. This shot shows Ellingwood Point, California Peak, the Northern San Luis Valley and the Northern Sangre de Cristos. It looks like the Crestones were dealing with the same types of clouds that we were.
Mount Lindsey seen from Blanca Peak's summit.
Summit shot on Blanca Peak.
Little Bear Peak looks down on the pancake-flat San Luis Valley 6,000 feet below. Parts of the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan ranges are visible scores of miles away in the distance. You can also see the jagged Blanca-Little Bear traverse.
The clouds had cleared up a bit by the time we were making our way out of the upper basin and back towards Lake Como.