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 Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,037 feet
Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
 Post Date:  01/29/2011 Modified: 12/23/2013
 Date Climbed:   01/29/2011
 Posted By:  mountainmicah83

 Little Bear to Blanca Winter Traverse   


Little Bear to Blanca Traverse in Calendar Winter



As per Page 115 in Roof of the Rockies:
FA: Joe Merhar and Dale Norton, 1931
FWA: Charley Mace, solo, 1981(first and possibly only)

Climbing Party:
Matt Bruton (aka Bruton)
Micah Morgan (aka MountainMicah83)

Route: (Times are approximate)
1/28/2011 - Car at 8,800’ to Cabin at Como Lake 11,750’- 2.5 Hours
1/29/2011 - Como Lake 11,750 to crest of West ridge of Little Bear circa 12,000’- 2 Hours
- West ridge circa 12,000’ to base of Hourglass around 13,300’- 2.5 Hours
-Base of Hourglass to Little Bear Summit, 14,037’ – 1.5 Hours
-Traverse to Blanca Summit 14,345’ – 4.5 Hours
-Descent to Cabin at Como Lake 11,750’- 3.5 grueling hours of post-holing.
1/30/2011 -Como Lake to Car at 8,800’- 1.75 quick hours

Image


Background:




Matt and I have been talking for quite some time about getting this climb done in winter and have held off and been patient for several reasons to include skill level, partner comfort, snow conditions, and weather. Our plan was to do the route in summer first to have a good feel of what we were up against but our planned attempt was quickly changed this past summer when Kevin Hayne passed on the same route the week before up Little Bear. Out of Respect, we decided to avoid the area and go get Capitol.

Matt has been a technical rock climber for about eleven years and about the point we met about 2 years ago after hour wives, who were high school Pals back in the day, introduced us. Almost immediately we were best bros that felt like we were had been friends since grade school. We had many similar interests to include mountain climbing and snowboarding. I expressed interest in learning more technical rock skills from Matt and he began to teach me the ropes, so to speak. I really had a desire to learn due to my love of the alpine and within one summer, I was a pretty solid 5.10 rock climber. While pushing myself on harder peaks and 2 other of the great 14er traverses (Bells, and Crestones) in Summer, and pushed my snow climbing skills in winter and spring. This past year especially, I began to bump my climbing up from just sport climbing with fixed bolts for protection to trad, or traditional, type of climbing where you place your own gear in the rocks and your partner picks it up as they second behind you. We have been practicing those skills on all types of adventure climbing throughout southern Colorado and our summer road trip ending at the fun 6 pitch Monkey Face west face variation route in Smith Rock, Oregon with our friend ImNotHeySean this past summer.

for the remainder of this stellar report, see my blog HERE

This was Freedom of The Hills at it's Best. God has made us a very beautiful playground to enjoy.

See you at the top!

Image



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Winter8000m


Congrats     2011-02-16 14:31:07
Way to perservere. A nice accomplishment to have under your belt. Way to work!


greenwok


da Bear...     2011-02-15 21:38:23
Wow you guys! Just wow! Beautiful photos and well documented. What an amazing accomplishment and experience! My heart sunk on a couple of those photos just looking at them - man! Congrats! Cheers!


tmathews

Inspiring     2011-02-07 07:56:54
Man, here I think I've done a lot in this last year and then you guys go off and do something like this and knock me down a few notches. I guess that just goes to prove that no matter how much I think I've grown and improved, there are a lot of folks out there with much more experience (and bigger balls!). You guys are truly an inspiration for me.


jesse


The Hardest Traverse In January!?!     2011-02-06 02:00:32
Amazing that you were able to conquer the most difficult traverse in Winter, I am humbled buy such prowess!


Mountain Woman


Amazing!     2011-02-06 09:05:08
You guys are our heroes.


Easy Rider


RARE!     2011-02-06 11:19:18
That is an achievement to be proud of!


Ridge runner


finally got to read this     2011-02-05 23:24:23
Wow, congratulations on completing such a hard and committing traverse in winter!


Yalegirl09

WOW!     2011-02-05 20:39:12
Holy Crap Micah and Matt! I'd say BAMF's is an understatement after this!!! Awesome work! Thanks for teaching me to climb!!!


KentonB


So It's Official...     2011-02-05 19:51:03
I am not a real man.


Kiefer


Absolutely stunning!     2011-02-05 19:35:22
Holy sh*t, you guys! Talk about uping the ante for winter climbs! That's an impossibly high bar y'all just set. Some MAD PROPS to both of you for this traverse and climb. And to be descending off Blanca before nightfall to boot!

This has to be without doubt, THE best report thus far for 2011.
Magnificent work, gentlemen!! 8)


Bruton

NOW I can say AWESOME!!     2011-02-04 18:18:21
My son, you are an amazing man!! Congratulations on an incredible accomplishment! I know this is just the beginning. I'm always a little nervous, but also always very proud of what you take on, & of your amazing spirit! Fun to see you excel!!! Thanks for being Matt's right hand man & great friend Micah! Congrats to you as well on a great climb!


BostonBD


Amazing!!     2011-02-04 23:26:26
Congrats to you guys. Most of us mortals have saturated pants just reading this trip report. You guys have more balls than a bowling alley.

Great read and excellent photos.


Bruton

Thanks Mom     2011-02-05 00:18:40
That last post was from my mom, whom I love.
Thanks Mom! Love you, and you need to get your own account.


mattpayne11


HOLY CRAP     2011-02-02 16:46:06
Micah & Matt - It's an honor to have climbed with both of you in the past. That was purely epic. Outstanding. Balsy. Bravo!

The photos do it justice, but it was probably much scarier in person, I'm sure.

Pretty sure my wife would never let me try that route, LOL. Maybe when my son is grown.

Need to climb with you again soon.

Your humble pal...


summitridge

Sweet     2011-02-02 16:53:40
Nice work and great photos. I've been thinking of this route for this summer, now I want to do it in the winter!


Monster5


Great report!     2011-02-02 17:00:24
I was thinking about this route and if anybody had done it in winter a few days ago. Nice to see somebody get it! Great photos and background as well.

It didn't look like you guys actually used any of the protection - did you feel the need at all?


Furthermore


Fine Job!     2011-02-02 17:19:51
Outstanding! I always wondered how that would look in the winter.


ColoradoGuy


WOW     2011-02-02 17:22:39
That's all I have to say: Wow!


JA_son27


Epic!     2011-02-02 17:30:19
I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures and the narrative. Thank you for the time put into this report.


Brian C


Wow indeed!     2011-02-02 17:31:14
This is awesome. Very nice work and major congrats!


jf32


Congrats!     2011-02-02 17:33:31
That's a monster day! Great effort


jbchalk


Very impressive!     2011-02-02 17:53:56
Definitely an epic day! Well done and glad you fellas are safe & sound.


Michael York


Sickness!     2011-02-02 17:58:49
Congratulations on your successful completion of that truly scary route. You guys are nuts and I loved reading about it! The pictures really top off the report... nice work!


benners


Schweet!     2011-02-02 18:20:41
Congratulations to you both on what I can only imagine was an incredibly tough day, physically and mentally. That traverse is no joke in summer. Short of your photos I'm not sure I can really contemplate what difficulties winter would add to it, but I'm sure there were many. Nice work fellas.


Zambo


Nice     2011-02-02 18:28:31
”I don’t climb to be first or second. I climb because of the adventure and sense of self accomplishment.” This is exactly the attitude needed for something like this. Well done indeed.


Alby426


Fantastic.     2011-02-02 19:19:44
Inspiring, Will attack this one for sure, someday!
Great job guys.


sevenvii


Very nice     2011-02-02 19:33:49
Pretty damn amazing. Who cares if you are 2nd, 3rd, or 10th. that was a hell of an accomplishment.


Dancesatmoonrise


Synchronicity....and plenty of Old Chub     2011-02-02 19:44:40
What's that you say? You think you saw Dancesatmoonrise up there? Impossible. He's an old man with a bad back, a hernia, a hearing aid, and a cane. Last I heard, he was begging that seeing-eye dog offa Stephanie.

(Cripes, it's amazing the exposure and climbing you end up getting ”comfortable” with, isn't it?)

Yes, seriously, I was summoned by the Great Spirit that day. Wild horses couldn't drag me away....

Benners and Pioletski had to talk me into that track, at the expense of LB that weekend, while meanwhile the Pacific Ocean was sending high pressure vibes our way for a mutual ascent of Little Bear. There are things in the world we don't see...

I'll have a story of my own to share soon - Looks like your end of the ridge was not much different from my end of the ridge. Fortunately, I was able to keep the pants relatively unsaturated for most of the traverse. Except for that doggone prostate problem. Harumph!

Nice work, guys, and a banner day with success all the way around. (Damn, it's about time...)

I love you guys. Great job!

Jim


jduncan


Incredible     2011-02-02 20:57:33
Amazing narrative and truly incredible pictures. Thank you for documenting such an amazing journey so well.


pioletski


Damn you're good!     2011-02-02 21:22:22
Nicely done, gents (all 3). Thanks for a great story!


globreal


I don't know if I'd say your good or crazy     2011-02-02 23:20:20
Amazing trip! Outstanding report! Incredible effort! Only one other to have done this in winter? CONGRATULATIONS!

That 2nd photo of you climbing on the neon yellow rock (photo 36) should be a poster on your wall!

Wowser.....


kaiman

Nice work fellas!     2011-02-03 10:37:15
Job well done on such an incredible traverse, especially this time of the year... I am amazed though how little snow is on the upper portion of those peaks right now.

Great pictures as well. Shooting them must have led to some interesting scenarios with you hanging on over a some pretty exposed stuff huh?

Glad to see you briefly pay homage to the historical pioneers of this route. We need more of today's mountaineers to know the history of Colorado climbing before it is lost...


mountainmicah83


Thanks Everyone!     2011-02-03 10:46:06
Thanks for all of the positive comments everyone.
Just a couple of quick thoughts- I did forget to mention that we never used the technial gear. We felt sort of strange for not needing it but it was a peace of mind thing knowing we had it if needed and even worse if we needed to bail. We wanted to be prepared for anything and really just got lucky on conditions. It's all about being prepared, right?

As far as paying homage- I got my copy of Roof of the Rockies for $.70 on Amazon. Interestingly, Matt was able to contact Charley Mace on Facebook and befriend him. It would be awesome to have a beer with the guy. Doing a bit of deeper research, it was an truly honor to repeat a route of a guy with accomplishments such as his.


Bruton

Agreed Thanks!     2011-02-03 11:12:11
Thank you all for the encouraging comments.
This was a climb that's been on my heart and mind for quite some time, and as micah says, It was just for us! Thank you Micah, for the companionship and enthusiasm on the climb and the flatland preparing for it.
Thanks also to Charley for doing it first. you were and still are an inspiration to me.

Climb on!

Matt


JakeK


Best of 2011, so far! :-)     2011-02-03 11:28:19
Congratulations guys! This TR sets the bar for 2011! Micah - I remember climbing up the hourglass back in Aug '09, and you were attempting the NW face that day... I expected that we'd meet on the summit, but you guys got shut down that day... talk about going back and DOING IT IN STYLE! Wow I'm just super-stoked for you guys after reading this. Great report, great photos, and a climb that you and Matt will never forget. Way to go!


sgladbach


My how things how changed!     2011-02-03 12:15:17
A few years ago, only a very few had ventured to LB and the Crestones in winter. W/ this unusually dry winter, the Mama Bear/LB traverse, LB/Blanca traverse, ASCENT (descent had been done before) of Crestone Peaks North Couloir, and LB North Face (two years ago)have all fallen to members at 14ers.com. And, thank you Chomolunga, not a single climber's injury. Maybe we're being given recompence for this summer's tragic losses. Its all very impressive to me, though I'm certain it's being ridiculed on the ”F*ing w/ 14ers.com” thread on the self-annointed, invitation only site.

Congratulations to all.

Steve


Johnson


Freaky sweet!     2011-06-02 08:57:39
Amazing job guys. What else can I say...???? I'm not worthy!!!!


pglover

Looks sooooo fun!     2011-02-03 13:27:03
I have wanted to do this for a long time. You had the best day of the year. Well done! So the crux was 5.2???


mountainmicah83


Crux     2011-02-03 13:39:04
I can't say if this would be different in the summer with less snow but the only way we could get down what I called the ”crux” or ”saturation point” I would say easily downclimbed as at least 5.6 and I would even be comfortable saying there were 5.7 moves. It looks like that could be bypassed in the summer to the climber's right keetping the climb at 5.2 or below.


14erdude83


EPIC!     2011-02-03 18:59:53
trip report fellas! I am sitting at my desk trying to muster the words to describe how amazed I am.....awesome pics!


SuperiorTrailHiker

Speechless     2011-02-04 11:40:12
This report is a masterpiece, and looks like more fun than I think I could stand. Congratulations and be satisfied in the accomplishment by my seething jealousy. I was very happy to see what looked like a half-gone pint of whiskey in the provisions.


Carl


A unique achievement!     2011-05-02 08:23:28
What a great adventure and an excellent recap Micah. Congrats to you both. Really enjoyed this TR.


d_baker


Nice job guys     2011-02-04 12:42:59
Nice report, great photos, and one huge accomplishment!
Congratulations guys!



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