Note: this list isn’t be any means complete, but I thought it would be useful to list past trips, in order to find more resources about the route. If you would like your trip add/removed, please contact me.

First Known Attempt: Bill Arnold, Lester Michel, Jim Michel

According to member gore galore, the first attempt of the Sangre de Cristo Range was done in 1961 from Poncha Pass on August 19, 1961, with the goal of La Veta Pass by Bill Arnold, Lester Michel, and Jim Michel. They made it to Music Pass. This was before the range was even mapped/surveyed out!

Mitchell Musci, 2012

This wonderful trip report on BackpackingLight chronicles Musci’s traverse from 2012 from Poncha Pass, leaving the main ridgeline a bit after Broken Hand Pass:

It became apparent at that moment that I was transforming into a monster. I mean seriously, no one f***ing does what I just did. I looked down at my feet, past my rapidly expanding and collapsing diaphragm, and watched my shoes melt into the tundra. I was no longer bound by the physical boundaries of my shaking body. Instead my skin diffused into the wind as my mind willed itself across the pass and on to the very head of the Sand Creek drainage. I was completely weightless as I gazed northwest for one last glimpse of the Crestones.

Mitchell Musci, 2012

Brendan Leonard and Jim Harris, 2013

Brendan Leonard and Jim Harris, Cottonwood Peak

The first time I ever heard of anyone trying to link the Full Sangre de Cristo Range was when reading about Brendan Leonard‘s and Jim Harris‘s trip going North to South, starting in Salida in 2013. Read their story in Backpacker (mirror in semi-rad) Brendan writes about trying to be the first to attempt doing the full range. After ten days, they bailed off of California Peak due to torrential downpours – the same weather system that caused massive flooding here in Boulder, CO.

Cam Honan

Cam walking across the Great Sand Dunes National Park

In 2016, Cam Honan did a variation of this route (his trip report is here) – I don’t know his exact route, but I believe he dropped off the ridgeline near Milwaukee Peak, then traveled to the base of the range on the west side and into/across the Grand Sand Dunes National Park, before re-ascending to the ridge. I’d love to see a GPX. ~8 days. Not quite sure of the style, but he notes that Paul Mags joined him for the last push to Ellingwood/Blanca Peak. I don’t believe the Blanca/Little Bear Traverse was done.

Nick Clark and Cam Cross

Cam Cross, photo by Nick Clark

In 2018 Nick Clark and Cam Cross completed the first (known/documented) traverse from Lake Como, to the TH for Methodist Mountain (starting with Little Bear Peak, and doing the Little Bear/Blanca traverse) staying pretty much on the ridgeline the entire time (except to source water), in about four days, 11 hours. Their trip report is worth a read.

They noted having a few food/water caches along the way. Researching their track, it does seem they missed a few minor peaks, but stayed generally on the very crest of the spine of the mountains, including the two 14er traverses. Nick describes their line as such:

hike, climb and maybe jog a little from Lake Como to Methodist Mountain in as expeditious a manner as possible, while staying on the range’s central ridge for as much of the route as feasible and/or practical.

Among other things, Nick writes about terrible blowdown in some areas below treeline, highlighting that the cruxes aren’t just what’s found on the high peaks and knife edge ridgelines.

Justin Simoni (me), 2019

Hard to believe, but I hiked over three days before seeing anyone on my #sangrestraverse trip. Finally on Marble Mountain, I passed a group of kids coming down. They made comment on my relatively fast speed UP. I was feeling the onset of an asthma attack and was just holding it together, but tried to make a joke about just wanting to get in a peak before it got too late or something similarly cheesey. An asthma attack is a particularly inconvenient thing to have to deal with at 12,000'+ for *days* on end, but managing all those little parts of your organism:
Between Milwaukee Peak and Music Pass, 2019

My first attempt and success was in 2019, starting from Lake Como Road, and entering the main ridgeline from the Southwest Ridge of Little Bear, and traversing the Little Bear/Blanca ridge. Surprisingly, I made it all the way to Methodist Mountain, then Salida in my first go, staying as close to the main ridge as I could. I believe I am the first to do so unsupported.

I used the skills from my multi-day fastpacks on my Tour of the Highest Hundred, as well as my first known (only known?) traverse of the full Mosquito/Tenmile Range Traverse to try to lighten my load to go fast (relatively) and make the technical parts more doable. My only wish was that had more altitude training, having come back from a few weeks in Alaska.

John Paul Ogden, Bill Hilty, June 2020

John’s and Bill’s trip took ~11 days. John has his trip saved in Strava.

Josh Jespersen, Rick Schuler, Spring 2019 (?)

Josh and Rick managed to tour the ridge on splitboards. I don’t know the exact line they took, as I assume the ridge was toured in some parts, couloirs were ridden down, then faces were climbed back up (would be very interesting to see the actual route!).

Hannah Green, 2022

Hannah recounts her adventure completing the line in her iRunFar article. As far as I can tell, Green is the first woman to do the full traverse, first woman to do it solo, and first woman to do it unsupported.

Photo by Hannah Green
Photo by Hannah Green

Justin Simoni (me) 2023

Little Bear from Blanca Peak
Little Bear from Blanca Peak

I again went off to tag the entire ridgeline in 2023, having failed twice in 2022. All three times, I started in Salida, and went south to finish at Lake Como Road. This may in fact be a more difficult direction, as all the difficulties in the ridge are found in the second half.

The last day included the traverse from California Peak to Ellingwood Point – what I feel is one of the hardest parts of the entire ridge; then a traverse between Blanca and Little Bear, going the opposite direction of the norm. I may also be the first person to do it this direction unsupported and I can be almost absolutely certain I am both the first and only person to have done this traverse twice and in both directions.

Katie Gerber and Troy Klaassen, August 2023

Gerber negotiating the Class 4 pitch down Ellingwood Point (I believe) Photo: Klaassen
Gerber negotiating the Class 4 pitch down Ellingwood Point (I believe) Photo: Klaassen

Gerber and Klaassen started at Lake Como and made their way to Methodist Mountain in around 8 days. Gerber wrote a great trip report to help fill in what is found out there. Of note is that the duo elected not to take on many of the technical parts of the ridge, getting on-ridge at Blanca Peak (missing the Little Bear/Blanca Traverse), avoiding the Crestones, etc. I’m not sure how they pieced together the route from Ellingwood Point to California Peak – I found that down climb very exposed! – maybe they know a much better way than I do.

At Cottonwood Peak, our main route drops below 13,000’ for the first time in 40 miles. The afternoon is hot and humid as we wind down through blowdown hell (though not as hellish as Zwischen) to Hayden Pass. A quarter mile from the pass my pole breaks. For 25 minutes, we search a small piece of ground for the missing spring. No luck, but I’m grateful for Troy’s help in the search as it’s already been a long day and we’re both ready to find water. We hike out to the pass and descend 500’ before we find a trickle big enough to fill our bottles, and then reascend to make camp.

– Katie Gerber