|Sangre De Cristo Mountains
This is the obvious couloir on the North face of Blanca peak that leads up to the namesake "Gash" on the Gash Ridge. Mostly snow and ice with a rock finish. It is an incredible, intimidating feature that was absolutely packed with ice when we climbed it on 6/15/09. Steep, sustained, beautiful. Spectacular top-out onto Gash ridge. Begin with several hundred feet of steep snow and easy ice to where things steepen. Set a belay in shattered rock (careful). Lead up and right up 70-80 degree ice for 300' pitch. Belay off pins 10' apart in the left wall. Lead up snow, back right to ice runnel , belay in cave-feature on left. Lead up right on spectacular ice to steep, snow-covered rock. Exit couloir on left through steep rock step (good knifeblade) to beautiful 65-75 degree exit runnel. Belay at bomber crack on exposed ridge. Lead across snowy 4th class-5.0 to gain Gash Ridge. Follow Gash ridge to summit, or bail down steep, snowy, exposed ridge in storm like we did. Downclimb steep snow slope to basin below face.
BEWARE ROCKFALL. This is a dangerous route. The right wall of the couloir gets very early sun, and unleashes a barrage of rock and ice shortly after dawn.
Gear: the rock is granite, but it is NOT like RMNP. Very shattered and strange. Pins work well, but take time to excavate.
DESCENT: Getting off Blanca back into Huerfano is a bit of an adventure. We got stormed off after making it to the ridgeline, and downclimbed the Gash Ridge to a steep snowfield. If you continue to the top (highly recommended, I want to do that next time) you can A. go all the way over Ellngwood and back down ledges. looks long and crappy. B. downclimb the obvious angling snow couloir right of the Ormes Buttress. C. Locate the rap stations we put in down the Hyper-G (hard to find, lots of exposed downclimbing).D. Rap the Gash Couloir (rotten rock, frequent rockfall). good luck
Follow the lily Lake trail up Huerfano creek to the last switchback. Cruise across snowfields, up a narrow 55 degree snow runnel to basin below face. Climb up to obvious couloir on left side of face. Solo until things get scary.
Single rack cams from 0 TCU to #3 camalot. Single rack stoppers. 6-9 pins (KB, LA, baby angles). 3-6 ice screws
J. Crossman soloing in lower couloir
J. Crossman starting up Gash Couloir
our second belay
Approaching couloir. Can you say " 5am is a late s...