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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-06-18||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Attempted the hourglass route on Little Bear, started around 2:30AM from about 10,300' on the road. The lower portion of the road has improve *a little* (evidence of grater/bulldozer moving rocks around). The gulley from the lake had intermittent snow to the notch. The traverse from the notch to the base of the hourglass is almost 100% dry, some small snowfields that can be avoided. Snow was rock solid all the way up until ~9:30AM. The hourglass itself has snow from the base to about where the lower section of ropes are anchored in. We decided to call off attempting the summit at about 13,600' due to ice bridges (snow in the hourglass in some parts had a 3 foot gap of air/running water underneath the snow layer, as well as verglas on the left side). I certainly didn't want to stick around to experience what happens when those pockets of ice/snow collapse and begin to slide down the lower portion/slabs of the hourglass.
|2016-05-30||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Still a lot of snow. Icy in places in the hourglass, but no ice bulge requiring special maneuvering. Snow was pretty soft in most of the hourglass and gully. We used crampons for much of the traverse. Lots of post holing in the early afternoon on the far side of the lake and on the traverse. Nice glissade through the gully and no hidden rocks coming down. No new avy debris by noon today, but gully, traverse and hourglass all had evidence of pinwheels or rollerballs from previous days. One skier descent through the hourglass.
|2016-05-23||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Snow started patchy a little less than a mile to Lake Como, became constant and deep around the lake, bring some sort of floatation. Evidence of small wet slides in the area, get the weather right and there may be more. The hourglass was in great shape- about ideal conditions. There were a few bulges of ice that were easily avoided. The traverse across was spotty with snow, you can mostly rock hop or stay on the ridge. Be careful out there!
|2016-03-19||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Got really lucky with the Hourglass, but who knows how long these conditions will last. The gully is pretty solid, was able to kickstep into someone else's butt mark (thank you, previous glissader!) and for the most part avoid sugar. The back side of the ridge is snow free until past the second notch, not far from the hourglass apron. From there the snow was solid up and into the hourglass. Lots of kickstepping fun. The hourglass was great, solid snow up and even past the Y. I went to the right and managed an almost continuous snow line all the way to the summit. There are 2 modest ice bulges in the hourglass, but both can be skirted. However, I don't really know how or why those things form so who knows, they could be the size of a bus by now for all I know. Weather was clear and crisp. The wind got pretty steady and cold at the top. It should be noted I got an early start. Summited at 0830, back my camp at the lake at 1100. Not sure how much things might have softened up after that.
|2016-03-17||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Parked at 8,200 ft at the intersection of 21st and Grant only a short way up the 4WD rd. (This is about 1 mile BELOW the TH, Not sure if this is legal or not - I just put a note on my car and hoped for the best) You will defiantly need high clearance, more than 8" to make it up this road The route is mostly snow free and NO winter gear was used except for waterproof boots of course, although others may find microspikes and gaiters useful in a few spots. Included a couple pics, Upper hour glass looks very thin, and the little I could see of Blanca looked windswept. Beware...This route is a BEAST...
|2016-03-05||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Summited on Saturday March 5, 2016 via Hourglass. Road became impassable just below Jaws .5. Made it to 9730 in stock Jeep Wrangler. A stuck 4Runner blocked road at that point. Hiked to Lake Como. Some in our party wore just boots, other snowshoes. It was soft and we postholed quite a bit especially just before lake. Lake Como was frozen solid, soft drifted snow all around. Snow was sugary in lower couloir. Used snowshoes from Lake Como to halfway up it. South face was mostly clear just below ridge but solid snow to base of Hourglass - used crampons to cross this section and all the way to summit. Again, snow was not bad in Hourglass but soft in places, sugary in others and icy elsewhere.
|2016-02-14||Route: Northwest Face
Info: Solid trench in place up the road and several parties there this weekend. NW face has mostly sloughed but there are still a few soft spots. We went left of the hand and Grimpeur led a mini M4 pitch - maybe avoidable right of the hand? Stayed right of the main snow gully and slogged up to the ridge (accessed on the left side of the gully). Ridge to LB was spicy with wind but mostly dry. Descent down hourglass was springlike and fast. The slope traverse was still somewhat frozen but I‘d recommend not touching it after noon. Tension cracks and iffy once it heats up. N gully was powdery but mostly stable on climber‘s right.
|2016-01-23||Route: South-West Ridge
Info: Made it to about a mile below the TH in a Subaru Forester and found a very reasonable route through treeline across Tobin Creek. Right after the creek crossing I went east and gained an obvious ridge that took me to the main SW ridge. Some areas of deep snow were sporadic and then none above treeline until the Mama Bear Traverse. There was a good amount of snow on the traverse and it was very loose and dry. If you feel comfortable of class 3/4 terrain it should not deter you from attempting this route. I did not bring snowshoes. I used an ice axe at the end of the traverse but never put on my crampons. Over all I would say this route is in good shape and is a "safe" way to climb LB right now.
|2015-09-26||Route: Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse
Info: I solo climbed Little Bear, Blanca, and Ellingwood starting from Lake Como on the 26th. Conditions and weather were excellent. Beginning with Little Bear, the Hourglass actually wasn‘t nearly as technically challenging as I expected. I‘d say climbing never exceeded 3rd class the entire time. There‘s a very small trickle of water that you can easily avoid. Just be careful early in the morning though, as much of it was frozen solid and could be a significant hazard if you can‘t avoid it all together. Rock fall danger is definitely a threat in there as well, so be very careful if there are other climbers present. The LB-Blanca ridge was incredible and definitely the gnarliest traverse I‘ve ever done. The exposure and difficulties are relentless for the entire distance. One notable feature that I feel like people should be aware of comes about halfway across the ridge. As you approach one of the headwalls, you‘ll hit a gap on the ridge crest. Although it‘s tempting, you should NOT try to cross directly over this gap. It‘s actually quite easy to backtrack a few yards and just go down to the left around this wall. The rock on most of the ridge, including this area, is pretty rotten and trying to jump across that gap could quickly turn into a fatal mistake. There quite a few other spots where you have to decide whether to cross directly up and over some small towers or skirt around the ledges. The dangers come from either traversing along the exposed face or having to downclimb the narrow and crumbly ridge each time, your choice. Other than that, it‘s just a matter of staying focused and moving deliberately with each step and hand hold. Overall, it was a beautiful fall day in the Sangres. These conditions won‘t last much longer, so get it while you can.
|2015-09-20||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: First gully to the ridge is long, loose, but mostly just a grind on slippery class 2 scree. Hourglass is pretty dry, very few little tiny trickles of ice here and there. Definitely still in very good condition. There are up to 4 fixed ropes, the longest one, and the one you see first, is a blue one and is in alright condition. Later it turns into the salmon colored one that you see at the anchor. We used it only on the way down to hold onto, putting full bodyweight on it at times. There are a lot of knots to isolate abraded sheathing, and we added a few more. Note that because of all the knots, don‘t expect to rap off this rope.
|2015-09-16||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Took ATV to Lake Como. 2 hour trip with two packs and two guys on the ATV-NEVER AGAIN...Bill, from Salida, "You were right!" We got there and back, but I need my ATV in one piece-so no more. NO bear issues-canistered and hung food anyway. Actually saw a bear carcass around southwest side of the lake. If you go, pick up some trash to help out those who don‘t feel the need to carry out their trash. We took out a lot, but more is there. Despite 2 days of the peak shrouded in clouds, the trail, Hour Glass and upper reaches are mostly dry and fine (small trickle of water down Hourglass). Ropes: the lower orange ropes are sketchy, at best. The green rope is good, but is nicked about 20 feet from the bottom. Above that it looks fine should you want to use it. Saw one other guy at summit headed across the traverse to Blanca and Ellingwood. Looks like a nice few days ahead for climbing in the Sangres. Enjoy if you can get there! No photos.
|2015-09-12||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Climbed Little Bear on a beautiful Saturday morning. Left Lake Como at 6:10 AM and summited at 9:40 AM. A couple thoughts: - The route is described as Class 4 but it seemed more like Class 3 to me. Little Bear is closer in route difficulty to Snowmass than either Capitol or North Maroon in my book. - The route description says to stay to the right side of the gully that starts at 12,000 feet. We actually climbed up solid rock on the left side of the gully and this made the gully a fun, quick section. Whatever you do, avoid doing a scree slog by going right up the middle of the gully.
|2015-09-07||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Was 1 of about 8 or 9 ppl that reached the summit of LB on Monday. The peak is dry. Minimal water flowing down the Hourglass. Two ropes are available in the Hourglass and are in good shape, should you want/need to use them. Start early and bring/wear a helmet.
|2015-09-04||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Little Bear is my 40th fourteener this summer. My goal is to climb all of them. You can read more about this hike and others at Sunshineof1985.com. Enjoy! Distance (Lake Como to Little Bear RT): 4 mi. Distance (Lake Como to 8,000): 5.5 mi. Elevation Gain (from Lake Como): 2,300 ft. Time started (to Little Bear): 7:30am End time (Lake Como): 2:00pm Time started (@ Lake Como): 2:40pm End time (8,000 ft.): 5:00pm Time to Summit Little Bear Peak from Como Lake: 3 hours and 45 min. Time to Descend Little Bear Peak to 8,000 feet: 5 hours and 5 minutes (minus time to take down tent) Overall Pace: .6 miles per hour while on Little Bear; 2.3 miles per hour to 8,000 ft. *GEAR (to bring): Bear spray, helmet, water purifier, first aid kit, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, headlamp, flashlight, toilet paper, GPS, extra batteries, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, extra change of clothes, wear a tank top, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, lightweight gloves, overnight pack with water sack and extra water (160oz), food for two full days (large bag of jerky, large bag of trailsmix, 4 protein bars, and 4 granola bars). *Road Condition: The directions from 14ers.com is correct in that a sedan will only make it to 8,000 feet or slightly further. We saw one Jeep make it all the way to Como Lake- which was mind boggling. *Trail Condition: 8,000 to Como Lake: You‘ll be on the road the entire time. The road mixes between dirt areas where it‘s easier to walk, but mostly river rock and boulders. Eyes on the ground mostly to watch your step. Como Lake to Little Bear: You‘re on a nice road for a short time, then upon exiting the forest, the trail for Little Bear is to your right. The first scree field is not fun, and you‘ll slip and slide and it‘s loooong. When returning, make sure you go far enough because there are other notches that look similar, but as I found out it had a huge cliff (wrong one). The trail is marked nicely with cairns, and follow it- even though you have to go back down. We tried to stay high on the ridge to avoid elevation regain, but had to go down anyways. Follow the directions as listed on 14ers.com. The "Hour Glass" is fine. Let one person go up in sections at a time to avoid getting clunked in the head. As of now, the ropes in my opinion were in great condition and I used them the whole way down. Once you get out of the "Hour Glass" you can go up left or right- either way will have scree and will be very steep with loose rock and will require pulling yourself up.
|2015-08-30||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Minimal water trickling down the hourglass given the recent dry weather. Numerous campers reporting no bear activity around lake Como.
|2015-08-18||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Ropes in the hourglass are in good shape. Used them heavily on the up and downclimb. Double checked the anchor at the top before our downclimb and it felt sturdy. Good bit of water flowing through the Hourglass.
|2015-08-06||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Did this RT from down low (8500‘). I didn‘t see any sign of bears as I hiked by Lake Como at 5am, but reports from campers say they‘re still there. Good wx, and hiking on a weekday, made for ideal conditions (1 fellow climber and no clouds!). 90+August heat at the TH is now making the Lake Como Road even more miserable than usual, which is another reason to consider starting with a day pack at 2am, rather than an afternoon slog up with a heavy pack to camp at the lake.
|2015-07-24||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: The entire route including the hourglass is free of snow. The hourglass only had a small amount of water coming down during our climb. There is still a serious bear problem at Como Lake. Please read my Lake Como trailhead report for details.
|2015-07-23||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: We got lucky with a perfect weather day with dry conditions. There was not much water running through the Hourglass. Several of the ropes looked in pretty good shape. Two other parties climbing when we were. Of course, lot‘s of rocks to dodge even though we were very careful. We elected to camp low, then drive 3 miles on the road and hike the rest, which made for a long day. No one we talked to had been hassled by bears; however, there were some sightings.
|2015-07-22||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Perfect weather and no one else on the mountain the entire day! We climbed on Wednesday, and saw a lot more people climbing it on Thursday and Friday, so shoot for early in the week to avoid the rock fall. As everyone says the conditions are great. As for the bear, we didn‘t see him until our third evening. We were camped above the lake, just off the jeep road about 1/4 mile beyond the Little Bear turn off. He came within about 100 yards of our camp that evening around 6:00. Another group scared him away a few minutes later, and there was no sign that he came back during the night. Our bear canister and pots/pans were untouched. So unlike previous postings are saying, the bear WILL come up high above the lake to look for food, so please use a canister for food storage. We talked to some out-of-staters headed up on our way out. They said they didn‘t have a bear canister, but they have a gun so they weren‘t worried. What a terrible mind set! Please just do everything appropriately to keep the bear from getting food so it doesn‘t have to be killed!