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Little Bear Peak  
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Route  Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2013-10-23  West Ridge and Southwest Face  I have just returned from climbing Little Bear‘s SW Face via the "Hourglass" Couloir. As of Wednesday October 23rd there was what I would call "Lean" winter conditions along the West Ridge (approach gully) as well as the SW Face. The snow was comprised of a thin crust under which lay heaps of cold unconsolidated "sugar" lower on the West Ridge (approach) and along the base of the SW Face. The "Hourglass" was in better shape and had varying qualities of frozen snow and ice; there were two segments along the ascent of the "Hourglass" which were very thinly covered- near the bottleneck (narrowest portion of the couloir there was a 10 foot section of ice and rock (nothing unmanageable) as well as another section higher up near the end of the "Hourglass" at the so-called "fork in the road". As I began the ascent of the "Hourglass" I saw the existing fixed line underneath the frozen snow; since I was guiding two friends (Both competent intermediate mountaineers) I decided to attempt to uncover the line as I climbed in the event one of my companions felt uncomfortable with the descent. Our original plan was to ascend Little Bear and then complete the traverse to Blanca. After attaining the summit of Little Bear and pausing for the requisite photo(s) I began the down climb to assess the plausibility of our next goal- the ridge traverse to Blanca. Needless to say I encountered atrocious snow conditions approximately 150 meters from the summit. The "crux" of the down climb was under heaps of "sugary snow" which obscured the ridge and gave way as I "wallowed" & swam down the ridge. I decided the conditions were simply too dangerous to continue with my party and made the call to re-ascend to Little Bear‘s summit and descend the "Hourglass" and SW Face. Incidentally the fixed line is in relatively "good" condition (recently replaced prior to the snowfall). There were several segments which had been damaged but "butterflied" off by another climber. There was also a much older rope located higher in the "Hourglass" which, though weathered, appeared in decent enough shape to use as a hand line. I would say the route was in "relatively" good shape for this time of year and was not surprised to find the "early winter" unconsolidated snow. We began our climb at 4am and would recommend an early start for anyone thinking about climbing this particular route in the next 2-4 days; the goal should be sunrise on the summit so the snowfields remain relatively consolidated and frozen for the descent. Kpobean   2013-10-24 4  1    Edit Delete 
2013-09-29  West Ridge and Southwest Face  The gully to get up to 12,600‘ has quite a bit of snow and requires micro spikes, an axe is useful on the way down. The hourglass is covered in loose ice and snow and has a pretty strong stream running underneath the frozen stuff. We ascended the West Ridge Direct and descended the hourglass. I ended up repairing about 5 core shots in the fixed line which is getting to be very rotten. The descent off of Little Bear to start the traverse is covered in snow and very dangerous. spadflyer12   2013-09-30 1  3    Edit Delete 
2013-09-25  West Ridge and Southwest Face  A few inches of snow remain in the gully and microspikes worked well going up and coming down. The traverse to the hourglass and above it were mainly dry and only small sections of snow. The hourglass had dry rock on climbers left. The rope is cut to 4 strands up high so we didn‘t use it at all. Not enough slack in the line (portions are in ice for the season). Didn‘t really need the rope ascending, but it would have been good on the way down. jimmccall   2013-09-27 4     Edit Delete 
2013-09-22  West Ridge and Southwest Face  I think mileage in the route description is wrong. My GPS tracker showed 5.5 mi from the pulloffs at 8800 to Lake Como; the guide says 4 mi. I showed 17 miles roundtrip from the pulloffs to the base of the Hourglass (zero viz above 13k Sunday); the guide has 13 for the summit from the bottom of the road. Bill, please double check that mileage :-) pinhead   2013-09-23  0  4    Edit Delete 
2013-08-28  West Ridge and Southwest Face  There is a brand new orange rope in the hourglass that is well anchored and installed by the US Army on 8/27. There is a small nick in the rope about half way up but that is all. A group of four of us all used it on our ascent and descent, one by one. Still some nice water running down. Tango2Hotel   2013-08-30  0  1    Edit Delete 
2013-08-09  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Water was running down the middle of the hourglass on 9 August. There was also verglass on some of the rocks on the route. There were about 8 climbers (including two of us), so there was significant rockfall. There was a fairly new orange rope with some sections of an old blue rope at the bottom of it in the hourglass. trumpetsailor   2013-08-10  0     Edit Delete 
2013-07-26  West Ridge and Southwest Face  The Hourglass is very wet. Running water with a big puddle at the bottom that the rope is sitting in. I believe the new rope is the blue one that runs all the way to the bottom of the hourglass. However, it has two sections where the sheath has been destroyed and the core is exposed. Both of these sections are in the first 30-40 feet in the bottom of the rope. The Viper   2013-07-27 4     Edit Delete 
2013-07-24  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Hourglass is very wet, with a constant stream running through it. No verglass today (and we were in the hourglass around 6am). Do not use the shorter rope, it is in terrible shape. The newer rope is ok, but deteriorating quickly from sitting in the stream all day. Left side of the constriction is the driest area, and had surprisingly solid rock. MichiganBrian   2013-07-24  0     Edit Delete 
2013-07-22  Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse  Summer conditions. Newer rope that looked in good shape. Tons of Mosquitos at the lakes. Not crowded on this Monday. Only saw one other at the top when viewing from Blanca. petrofinder   2013-07-22  0  3    Edit Delete 
2013-07-07  Northwest Face  I sumitted today via MW Face, a magnificent route if you follow the route. If you follow the "Nelson Direttissima" it is more of a challenge. I was on top at 8:30 and the weather was already coming in. Because I am just back from sea level, I was not moving fast enough to beat it on the traverse. I elected to descend the standard route and found it very loose and wet. There is no way to descend without dislodging rocks of all sizes. Because of the daily rainfall, there is a stream running full blast down the middle. The rope is short and useless. Of my four descents of the standard route this was the worst. Nelson   2013-07-07  0     Edit Delete 
2013-07-05  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Attempted Little Bear on 7/5/13 but decided against it once we saw the condition of the Hourglass. It had a solid stream of water and the rope appeared to be cut about 30‘ above the ‘pinch‘ in the hourglass. The conditions were very slippery and it was difficult to reach the rope without going over the stream. However, there were plenty of people who completed it in spite of the conditions. 14er Fan   2013-07-07  0     Edit Delete 
2013-06-15  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Plenty of running water and verglas in the Hourglass, which can make the descent a bit tricky. The anchor webbing looks like brand new. The fixed rope (it‘s pale orange-ish) has four or five core shots and the sheath is completely stripped in many places. In short, I definitely wouldn‘t trust that rope. SherpaSara   2013-06-16  0     Edit Delete 
2013-06-14  West Ridge and Southwest Face  No snow to climb through in Hour Glass. A little snow around HG which is causing slight water run through but not excessive. Small snowfield at the base of the gully. Rest of route is snow free. Johnson   2013-06-15  0     Edit Delete 
2013-05-26  West Ridge and Southwest Face  - Road is dry to Lake Como - Lots of available camping without snow on the WEST side of Lake Como. East side still had lots of snow. - Some very minimal post holing east of the lake to the west ridge cut-off but it should melt out pretty quickly. - The initial gully on the west ridge still had snow bottom to top, but is melting quickly. I was hitting rock with my ice axe on a pretty consistent basis. See Pix 1 (taken from Lake Como) Traverse from the west ridge to the bottom of the hour glass was mixed snow and rock. About 50/50 snow/rock from the 2nd notch on the West Ridge. See Pix 2. - Hour glass was still snow-filled from bottom to the anchor. But is melting fast. It was firm in the morning, but very soft by 11am on decent. Not sure it will hold a week. See Pix 3. - Above the anchor, the route was dry. Some limited variglass/ice but it was easy to avoid. PM me with any questions. dannymiller15   2013-05-29 3     Edit Delete 
2013-05-18  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Still spring conditions on Little Bear although the snow is deteriorated quickly. The north gulley is filled with great snow, the first half of the West Ridge is snow free and the latter half leading to the hourglass is still covered in snow. The hourglass is still snow filled, but there are some icy sections just above the narrowest section. Above the hour glass it is a mixture of snow/rock and the snowfield leading to the summit was in great shape. I agree with the previous conditions report that self arrest skills mandatory, no snowshoes required. WarDamnPanic   2013-05-19  0  1    Edit Delete 
2013-05-13  West Ridge and Southwest Face  The Mayhem and I defeated the Bear Yesterday. It was a long day, full of danger. The road to Lake Como is in excellent shape, no snow, and there is snow all around the Lake. The first gulley is still full of snow, but it is soft, slippery, and a post holing pain. The ridge line is in good shape, though still of a few sections of snow, but mostly to be avoided, or really it makes no difference at all. As for the hourglass, it was a loose nightmare. There is still tons of snow in it, with mostly no ice. At the top of the peak, there is still good snow, but it is slippery, and a few times we fell, and needed to self-arrest. It is really dangerous, and good kick stepping has to be done for the entire way down. If it turns cold soon, there might be some good snow climbing left, but if not, the snow climbing season on Little Bear is done. Email me if you have questions. The Legend   2013-05-14 1  3    Edit Delete 
2013-05-05  West Ridge and Southwest Face  The snow is fine right now. We were the only party on the mountain yesterday. Folks on the route on 05/03 and 05/04 reported melting in the afternoon. Sunday was overcast most of the day and the conditions held. Bill and Otina did a nice job with thier skis of moving most of the snow up high to various spots lower on the mountain (HA!), but there is a bootpack all the way up the hourglass right now and I would say the route is in good shape. We left the camp at Lake Como at ~6:30am and returned at ~1:15pm. We were at the base of the Hourglass at 9:00am and spent a half hour on the summit. We descended the Hourglass at ~10:00-10:30am. There is a spot near the summit without snow, but otherwise the Hourglass was pretty straightforward. The West Ridge is completely dry and the West Gully is continuous (although the apron was getting a little slushy at ~1pm). And whoever is glissading the West Gully has some screws loose... most of the glissade tracks ended at big rock piles. I mean, more power to you, but it looked just silly to me... I have photos at home and will upload if I can find some time... Fletch   2013-05-06  0  3    Edit Delete 
2013-05-04  West Ridge and Southwest Face  The road to Lake Como was dry until you reached Lake Como. The snow is hard packed by the lake in the morning but gets soft in the afternoon and post holing is a problem. The couloir to the ridge line in snow packed and makes it easy to climb (and a great glissade down). The ridge is devoid of snow and dry. The hourglass is full of snow (still very steep) and has good steps up to the summit. The snow gets soft in the afternoon so we had post holing on the way down to the ridge line. The nice thing is there is no falling rock! I do not think the snow will last much longer, so if you want a good climb, go now! Crampons and ice axes mandatory, snow shoes won‘t be of any value. mrschaible   2013-05-05  0  4    Edit Delete 
2013-05-03  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Snow is melting fast up there but we were able to get a fun ski of Little Bear on surprisingly good snow. Camped at Lake Como and booted over to reach the lower gully at 7:45am (pic #1). After traversing more than half the ridge, we reached the large snow fields below the Hourglass. The Hourglass is full of snow but the choke is getting rather narrow and it won‘t be long before ice is exposed. Above the summer rap station, angle right to find more snow to approx. 13,700‘. Then there was an ~80-foot dry patch below the final strip of snow (pic #4) leading to the exact summit. Nice. Pic #1: Near the base of the first gully Pic #2: Snowfield before the Hourglass Pic #3: Base of the Hourglass Pic #4: A long strip of snow below the summit BillMiddlebrook   2013-05-04 4  3    Edit Delete 
2013-04-15  West Ridge and Southwest Face  Granted this is just my .02, but the conditions right now are perfect! The snow is a little soft in areas from the road up to the summit, but nothing to worry about aside from the occasional post hole. Thanks to a great driver and a standard clearance F-150 pickup we made it to within 3-4ish miles from where we camped. We chose to camp on the far side of the lake at the base of the north gully. From the road to the campsite there were some minor post holing issues and we all had snow shoes but no one ever needed one. I repeat....NO SNOW SHOES WERE NECESSARY AS OF THE 15TH. However, if you pack like a boy scout then toss them in just in case. North gully was full of great powder with some sugar underneath. The conditions were soft at times and we sunk in a little bit but overall the snow was firm and accepted great half boot sized steps all the way up. The traverse from the north gully to the hourglass was easy and straight forward with great snow, NO ice. The hourglass was in great condition. I truthfully didn‘t even realize that I was in the steep section until I looked over and saw a little bit of the "fixed" rope sticking out from underneath the snow. In order to stay on good snow you do have to zig zag a little bit, as the snow is getting sparse over a select few rock bands. Still, it is completely possible to stay on good snow for about 99% of the hourglass to the summit. There is a smallish portion of Alpine ice 1 or 2 under some snow so I would recommend crampons because you will want to front point through this section. Again, nothing would warrant two tools or anything, but I suppose that‘s all personal opinion. I would advise an early start so that you are on the hourglass up and down by early morning light so the snow doesn‘t heat up too much. Any further questions hit me up. I don‘t have the best beta pictures, but one of my partners should be adding a trip/conditions report with better beta photos soon. pic 1 is road just a short distance from the lake pic 2 is the bear standing on the lake pic 3 is looking up from half way up the north gully pic 4 is looking up the steep portion of the hourglass Cheers, Seth seth0687   2013-04-16 4  8 4  Edit Delete 

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