| Like snow through the hourglass...
West Ridge/SW Face
6,200 ft climb
Start time: 0430
Finish time: 1645
I've been up Lake Como road enough times to know that I'd rather walk than drive, but this time I brought my trusty steed mountain bike. I stashed the bike at about 10,500 and hiked up and over Como Lake to get a good look at my first attempt on a snow-filled couloir. There were kick steps in place right smack down the middle, which held nice. I was surprised that the steps were firm all the way up. After a brief climb over the rocks the ridge came into view, my heart sank when I could see what I had to traverse just to get to the hourglass. The traverse is steep with death on right. At this point I crossed paths with four people and not one person with a smile on their face. I wondered why? The sun started to heat up the snow but the snow still held firm.
I finally arrived at the hourglass and about halfway up a pile of rocks and snow were tumbling right at me. I quickly scooted toward the left of the hourglass and waited for the debris to pass. My heart leapt from my chest. When I came around the corner there were two climbers coming down. We safely passed each other and I was on my way for the final push to the top. Alas, I was the last to summit on Sunday, just before noon. There were two more climbers on top and we decided it would be safer to down climb together. Now the fun begins and now I know why no one smiles. The look of terror on our faces when we down climb Little Bear says it all.
I descended a little faster than the pair as safely made it through the hourglass. Phew! The traverse to get to the final couloir was actually the scariest part of my day. The sun turned the snow to a slushee and the kick steps were very soft with only a few firm spots for my axe. I slipped a couple times and that was enough to give me pause to gather myself and try again, slowly. Eventually, I gave up on the traverse and climbed straight up to the ridge to get some firm footing on the rocks. The eagle eye view was nice too. I could see the final couloir and soon was there.
Once in the final couloir about half-way down the kick steps were gone and in place instead were glissades. My choices were, re-kick the steps or try a "controlled" (wink, wink) glissade. My heart couldn't pound any harder. I keep saying this to myself but that is the craziest thing I have ever done.
I found my stashed gear, strapped on the snowshoes and shoed up and around Como. Took a few pictures of my successful day, the waterfalls and couldn't wait to get to my bike. Once pass the trees down from Como the trail was a muddy mess. Finally, I found my trusty steed and couldn't wait to bomb down. It took 24 minutes (with breaks to let the brakes cool) to descend 2,500 feet. That's ~100 ft/min!
Holy cow! Success. Woohoo!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):