Sangre de Cristo, Part 2
The Blanca Group.
Flush with success and convinced I was in the right area I drove to Alamosa to clean up and have a hot meal. On the morning of the 26th I drove to the Lake Como trailhead. From the road (160) I drove 3.2 miles to an altitude of 8848 ft., a new personal best.
The Lake Como road As I hiked up the 3000 ft to Lake Como I passed many people on the way down.
Little Bear towering above Lake Como They all seemed to have done Blanca and/or Ellingwood but no one had done Little Bear. I knew there was virtually no snow from Lake Como to Blanca or Ellingwood but I knew little about LB. I had seen a trip report about a week or two old that said snow was not a factor but apart from that I had no Beta.
I made the lake in about 2 ½ hours and I set up camp. The 27th I was up at 4 and moving at 4:45. I headed for Blanca first but made the mistake of going too high.
Mt. Lindsey I gained the Ridge at about 14,000 ft. instead of the intended 13,750. My route was direct but not efficient and I reckon this cost me a half hour or so. Once I was on the ridge things were straight forward and I summitted at 7:45.
Little Bear and the traverse
The traverse from Blanca to Ellingwood
I took a break and many pictures and headed back to the Ellingwood cut off. This time I studied the route carefully and set off for Ellingwood. I was on top in a couple of hours and again took a break for pictures and food.
Blanca/LB traverse I headed down and was back in camp for lunch and an afternoon break.
I was not sure of the conditions on Little Bear so I thought it better to start a little later, 6 am to allow the snow, if any, to soften up. I headed up the horrible scree/talus/dirt pitch to the ridge.
Couloir leading to Little Bear
From there I traversed below the ridge towards the hour glass. When I got my first view of the hour glass my heart dropped.
Snow apron under the hour glass I could see a distinct snow apron right underneath the hour glass apparently blocking the way. As I got closer I could see that the snowfield could easily be bypassed on either side. When I was right under the hour glass I could see that there was no snow or ice in the hour glass itself.
The hour glass
The rope in the hourglass There was a rivulet of water coming done but nothing threatening. Game on! I made a tactical move and took one of my Roctanes and headed up.
The ridge leading to LB For LB this was perfect summer conditions. 17> There were lots of loose rock but I stayed left where the climbing was a bit harder but the rock much better. I was on top shortly after 9 and went through my ritual of eating, taking pictures, sending SPOT messages and thanksgiving.