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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-10-03||Route: Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse
Info: Did the hourglass route up little bear, traversed to South Little Bear and back, then did the little Bear to Blanca traverse. Standard route down Blanca. There is snow above 11k feet, but the only significant accumulation is on north faces and the north ridge of Blanca (ankle deep) The gully that is used to get to the west ridge of little bear has some snow, and is very cold (no sun hit) so it‘ll probably hold snow for awhile. Once on the west ridge, it‘s snow free till the hourglass. Hourglass has an ice flow down the middle, but the ice can be carefully avoided by staying on the climbers left side. After exiting the hourglass it‘s snow and ice free to the top. The section between south little bear and little bear is in good shape with patchy snow. The traverse to Blanca is sketchy at best, and there are patches of snow. I didn‘t find any black ice on the route. Descent down Blanca had the most snow, ankle deep or so until the saddle. Below the saddle the snow was thinner, but there were several ice flows and black ice patches that had to be avoided. We didn‘t do Ellingwood because we ran out of time, but the standard route looked fairly snow free.
|2014-09-21||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Entire route is completely void of snow an ice on the day we climbed. The hourglass had its usual water running down it. I managed to not use the rope, but it was nice to know it was there. It appeared that all of the damaged portions of the rope were shored up. One other that was on the mountain at the same time as us used climb up and rappel down.
|2014-09-18||Route: Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse
Info: Snow in the shade going up hourglass and across the traverse. VERY sparse however not always easily avoidable but snow patches are small and on usually flat terrain where it can handle a step. Can be frozen though into something slick though. Road was awful to walk on as always Tip, Bring approach shoes and hiking shoes, the descent off little bear requires some dicey moves where the traction can be some peace of mind.
|2014-09-14||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: No snow or ice on route. Small trickle of water coming down hourglass...easily avoidable. No bear activity at lake.
|2014-08-31||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: My fiancé and I climbed Little Bear Peak on Sunday and summited at sunrise. There was water running down the hourglass on our ascent and descent. We brought our own rope and gave it to three climbers who started the hourglass after we finished. There were also two ropes that had some knots in them. One of the ropes extended well past the hourglass. We used them as guides and they held our weight.
|2014-08-18||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Hourglass and fixed ropes: On August 18th we climbed Little Bear and inspected the fixed ropes in the Hourglass. There were two ropes tied together that went from the anchor to the bottom (400ft?). The top rope (pink) we knotted in numerous places to isolate the damage to various parts of the rope. The lower (11mm blue) one seemed to be in very good shape. However, I was dismayed when I examined the anchor. The existing fixed ropes were attached to a single piece of webbing and a rap ring. One of the pieces of webbing was partly cut. I reenforced the entire anchor system with a piece of climbing rope and fixed an old, but in good shape, green 9mm, 50m rope to the reenforced anchor. The newly installed green rope will get you about 150 ft down the Hourglass close to the lower blue rope (no knots) that extends to the bottom. We rapped the green rope and did about 20 feet of down climbing on easy 3rd class rock and then reconnected to the blue rope to finish the rap to the bottom. This allowed us to avoid the upper rope with all the knots and made for a smoother and quick descent.
|2014-08-18||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: 1. The Como Lake Road MUCH more eroded than August 2013. 2. We put an undamaged 50m 9mm green rope in the hourglass. Rebuilt the anchor. The OLD ropes (red+yellow, orange) are hanging off 1 damaged webbing sling. 50m reaches below the neck of the hourglass. Older ropes had many knots in them isolating sheath knicks. 3. Almost no water flowing through the Hourglass (due to stretch of dry weather?). Could stand in it and boots barely got wet. 4. Barney the bear was very active near Como Lake and fearless. He? climbed the tree and started working our horizontal bear line. Bear cannisters were batted around a bit. Hard to decide which "Bear" was most difficult.
|2014-08-03||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: There was a thin layer of frost on smaller rocks, creating slippery conditions. They thawed out quickly once the sun hit them, but I had to be careful on the way up. It was a beautiful clear morning overall. Light clouds and fog rolled in and out all morning, starting low and gaining thickness and elevation as they built and dissipated over the course of the morning. There was a steady stream of water flowing down the hourglass. Even though the rock is wet, it wasn‘t slippery under my boots (except for rare patches of "black ice") so I continued to the summit. The clouds built into light rain by about noon.
|2014-08-02||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: We climbed this Saturday, August 2. This is a formidable peak and actually took us 8 hours from the lake, I‘m not fast. Important things to note: the traverse from the top of the gully to the base of the hourglass was a lot of route finding as many of the cairns were no where to be found. We dropped about 25-30‘ below the ridge and charted a course to the hourglass, finding a few fallen cairns along the way. My climbing partner rebuilt them as we went...much appreciated. As for the hourglass itself, there was a steady stream of water coming down. I stayed left for a while then climbed up the water simply b/c it‘s easier, holds are solid and traction was surprisingly good. My very experienced climbing partner inspected the anchors and wet rope along the way. I did use it coming down and was very happy to have it but advise you make your own decision upon inspection. The rest of the journey is a challenge, we chose to stay left and it worked fine. Just remember to check your foot/hand holds before you rely on it. Other then that, I am just glad to be done with that one. As for Como road, we made it past Jaws 1 and based on reports from other vehicles coming down, decided to camp just before the creek crossing. This was a wise choice. There has been considerable rain over the past few days. There were several rock slides past Jaws 2-3 that made it impassable by truck but smaller ATVs did get through. That was in the morning. By afternoon, several crazy looking jeeps had managed to get through by building, pushing, moving...whatever. You best have a super high clearance, 4wd vehicle and heed all the warnings posted by experienced drivers. The creek is running fast and high as well, just an fyi. Sorry no photos at this time.
|2014-07-26||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: On Saturday 26 July there was water running down the Hourglass. The rope is in very good shape, attached to two anchors at top. I found it was necessary to rely on the rope at least in the middle where the rocks are wet. Although it was a Saturday, I was the only one on the standard route and had the peak to myself. There were a lot of people at the Lake, and upwards of a dozen tricked-out 4x4s up there as well. Otherwise conditions were good, the weather cooperated, and it was a great climbing day. I have suspicions about the trip distances reported in the route description. My GPS tracker showed 24 miles roundtrip to the parking at 8800‘, and 5 miles to the Lake. I can‘t explain the high figure, the same tracker seems to work fine on other climbs. But I can say it was an exhausting climb and took me 8 hours to go from 8800‘ to the summit. If it is really just 13 miles, it‘s the toughest 13 miles out there! I am interested to hear what others may have recorded for the round trip from 8800.
|2014-07-22||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: No bears in our camp but about half of those we spoke to had seen bears on the road and/or just outside their camp (5 of 10 or so groups). Looks like someone (NFS?) has cleaned up all the trash reported previously, and also posted signs everywhere warning about the nuisance bear in the area. Thanks for the warnings from previous posters, it made us extra vigilant. Good conditions on Little Bear‘s standard route with a fair amount of water coming down the hourglass. Anchor webbing in ok shape but obvious that rocks have been pelting them and the fixed lines, I didn‘t like that anchor point, doesn‘t actually seem to be attached to the rest of the mountain, but to each their own...bring your own gear if you will need or want it as who knows what things look like above where you can see and feel. As previously noted obvious compromises to the sheath/core of the lines have been tied off. I thought climbers used their own gear and swapped a new anchor for the old? Looks like soon another 30+ pounds of abandoned, trashed anchors and lines will need to be cut out and hauled out. Or is this a more organized fixing of gear with a plan for later removal, if so cool, and I want details on how to help. I traded out equal for what I left in (sling and ring), but admit we didn‘t have the stamina to try for the rest except for about 20‘ of static line someone else had cut off but left on the ridge.
|2014-07-13||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Climbed Sunday, it had rained steadily for several hours till midnight Saturday, lots of water coming down the hourglass, otherwise no snow remains except patch at the bottom. At least one group of climbers ahead of us and we did encounter substantial, rockfall, just before entering the hourglass. Traction still fairly good despite water on ascent, though we tended to the left side to stay out of the center of the chute bc of the rockfall we had seen Encountered a party ascending who had used southwest ridge and from summit observed another group on the traverse. Used the fix ropes without any issues on descent. Bear reported Friday night in our camp along road at approximately 10,000 feet.
|2014-07-09||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: The entire route is dry. The rope in the hourglass seemed to be reasonably safe. There were three or four questionable nicks in it but someone had tied them with knots to bypass them. I rapped down it with no issues. We did spot a largish sized bear on the "road" to Como Lake about 1.5 miles below the lake. Our camp was attacked by very curious three-striped squirrels and a rogue deer who ate a lot of charcoal from the fire pit next to our tents for half the night. We later heard noises similar to vomiting and wondered if it was our deer friend realizing his folly.
|2014-07-07||Route: Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse
Info: No snow, verglas, etc on NW Face. Bone Dry. Same goes for the traverse to Blanca, as well as the traverse to Ellingwood. It‘s wide open summer conditions up there. Have fun, be safe.
|2014-06-20||Route: Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse
Info: as of 20 June, no need for snowshoes, gaiters, ice axe, crampons, or microspikes. I did the standard route, never used or needed any of the above. The gullies on Blanca still hold some snow, so if you are by-passing part of the ridge on the right, you would still need snow tools. The Hourglass still has snow at the mouth, but I was able to by-pass on the rocks.
|2014-06-10||Route: Little Bear-to-Blanca Traverse
Info: I just returned from leading a group six up the Hourglass on Little Bear and then across the traverse to Blanca. The approach gully from Lake Como consisted of large patches of frozen neve which petered out towards the saddle. Crampons are still quite useful here as well as the snowfield leading into the actual South-West couloir on Little Bear. We started our day at 3am- with the temps hovering around 35F. We reached the base of the Hourglass in 2hrs 30mins and found two "fixed" ropes. One rope (orange) was in this couloir last October and has sustained several core shots which have been "butterflied off". The second rope is actually set up for rappel and is freely running through two rap-rings and newer-looking 1" tubular webbing. These ropes were still partially frozen in solid water ice at the bottom and excavation would only have run the risk of further damage. Our party simply treated these ropes as a nice hand rail and didn‘t really rely on them. Although we did not descend this way one would more than likely be able to use the rope set up to rappel without any problem (of course a thorough inspection while ascending would be mandatory). We made the summit of Little Bear just before 7am and took a moment to inspect the connecting ridge and eat. Many people suggest the descent off of Little Bear is the "crux". I would strongly disagree and feel the reason many suggest this is due to the immediate and intense exposure that you are confronted with. The descent is certainly exposed but nothing harder than 4th class. There is a segment of the ridge line just after the "Bivwacko tower" on the West/Lake Como side of the ridge which I feel is the technical "crux" of the traverse. This section is approximately 30 ft and requires low 5th class climbing across a combination of sound and delicate rock with considerable exposure. It would not be difficult to bring a 30m section of rope and a couple 48" slings to protect a less-experienced partner. We arrived at an area where many descend the East side down to the scree (off of the ridge) and "by-pass" the first tower. We found firm snow nearly the entire way to the standard area where one regains the ridge proper(just before the 2nd Tower). We elected to take a steep snow gully/couloir which ascends the notch separating the Second and Third Towers. (I have posted a picture which shows this variation in the background- it‘s the middle snow gully ascending the ridge line). After reaching a point where the snow ceased we regained the rock and continued without event to the summit of Blanca. All told we took 4hrs on the ridge with a few rest stops to refuel. The descent off of Blanca is a tedious job of negotiating an scree field with a scant trail here and there, there are a few snowfields which extend towards the Ellingwood/Blanca saddle (but do not reach the actual saddle) which allows a quick series of glissades to speed up the descent process. All told we were 11hrs from tent to tent! Excellent weather.
|2014-05-28||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Climbed Little Bear yesterday (5/2. Road and route is snowfree to Lake Como. Water is running in the usual spots on the road to fill up if you need to. There is a stream at the close side of the lake to get water from as well. In the woods behind the lake and on the lower snowslopes, you will posthole DEEP if you don‘t get done very early. Lower down, you will probably posthole regardless of start time, unless it gets a lot colder soon to firm things up. We summited @8:45AM and snow was softening already higher up. No snow on the talus slope on the backside of the "notch" The hourglass and several other steep sections have started to ice up and combined with the existing ice underlying the snow makes for sketchy conditions at best on these sections. A rope would be helpful and partner for belay here-my opinion, use your own judgement; would be hard to self arrest on 50+ degree ice. A shorter ice tool would come in handy in addition to a normal mountaineers ice axe as I found myself using my long axe as an ice tool more often than not, facing in and front pointing on the way down on the icy sections. With that said, the snow in the hourglass is still currently better than the longer snowslope before it and the traverse getting there, both of which are softer. We saw several microwave-sized rocks careen past us from high up in the slopes in or below the hourglass; one reason to move fast through these sections, especially as things warm up.
|2014-05-26||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Started hiking at 4:00 am. Some postholing on the way to the base of the gully. Snowshoes would have nice. The gully was soft in spots in its lower parts, but got better as we ascended it. Very little snow left among the rocks in the ridge, though there are patches of snow in some sections. No need for crampons, though. Snow then becomes continuous as one gets close to the Hourglass. The snow was firm in most places, but some postholing was unavoidable. The Hourglass was in prime conditions, with good snow all the way through. There was ice just under the snow in some small sections, but it was easy to avoid. A combination of rocks and snow as one gets closer to the top, but it was easy to find a continuous snow path pretty much all the way to the top. Very little danger of rock or ice fall, though some rocks were loose. We reached the summit just before 9:00 am and the snow was becoming soft and sugary on the way down. Made it quickly down the Hourglass with no problems and it was very warm once we were on the ridge, with no wind at all. Snow on the gully was very soft on the way down, and we plunge-stepped and glissaded, with some postholing occasionaly. Some more postholing awaited for us in the trees. Hit it now while conditions are still good, though be warned: these will feel like the longest 3.5 miles ever!
|2014-05-26||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Lake Como Road mostly dry to lake. Evidence of post-holing on road going past lake into trees. We started up the first gully once you cut off the road to the LB standard route. Went up a few hundred vertical feet, and decided to call it a day. The snow in the gully was very rotten and had very little support (lots of sugary facets). We probably could have made it to the top of the gully and moved on to the traverse and hourglass, but thought the descent down the warm, rotten snow in the gully would be brutal. We saw at least one headlamp going up the gully before we arrived and did not see him (or his partner, assuming he had one) turn around. Hopefully they‘ll post a conditions report on how the hourglass was and also how the descent down both the hourglass and gully was.
|2014-05-10||Route: West Ridge and Southwest Face
Info: Excellent. Great snow conditions in the gully. Dry rock mostly on the traverse. Snowfield to the hourglass, mellow snow climb. Hourglass to the summit, excellent snow conditions. Starting to warm and melt during the day, turning to wet snow and exposing ice below the snow in some sections. Best to be off the summit by 09:00. Lake Como Rd is a bitch as always. You can easily drive past Jaws 1 with high clearance 4wd, probably Jaws 2. Little snow to deal with until you reach Lake Como, which is still frozen over. Leave the snowshoes at home.