| Little Bear West Ridge
After an early end to my attempt to climb Little Bear last fall due to the late summer snow storms and verglass, I went back for another try.
I left the truck a little lower on the Lake Como road than I would have liked, but it is a work truck and I didn't want to have explain why a tow truck picked it up east of Alamosa!
The moon was coming up, but wasn't quite over the ridge and a cloud was hanging over the ridge. I went without headlamp and the eyes adjusted nicely. The cobble road is grim during the day, and at night it is a little trickier. I devised a new training regiment. I call it TRT – Trip Recovery Training. By stumbling through the low light of night and tripping occasionally, I have trained myself to keep my feet under me. Now, when I take a little slip or trip somewhere where the consequences are greater, I should be able to recover nicely.
I made good time on the road to Lake Como, driven by the unfounded fear that a mountain lion was stalking me in the dark. Deep down I knew there was no danger. Body odor is the best defense against felines and no self respecting lion would come within 20 feet of me the way I smelled, much less consider biting me.
Daylight started to arrive and I still wasn't at Lake Como. A cloud hung over the mountain and I was feeling pessimistic.
I ate chocolate. The combination of the chocolate and the two overripe bananas I had for breakfast kicked in and I pushed on. Little Bear appeared through the trees.
The clouds had moved on.
There was a lot of snow and some minor post holing at Lake Como, but firm areas could be found. I put on the crampons while ascending to the notch in the west ridge. The crampons came off for the traverse across the ridge to the hourglass.
At this point, the marmots, the benevolent mountain gods that they are, smiled upon me. It was an auspicious day to spend time with the Little Bear. I snuggled up close and the Little Bear embraced me, holding me close to her slopes. I had no fear of a slip while in the grasp of such a wonderful mountain. The snow was perfect for the ascent of the hourglass. I made it to the summit at 8:30 am. The sun was just beginning to hit the snow at the top of the route. I'm not sure the sun ever hits the hourglass, but water was beginning to move.
The snow was mostly continuous. I crossed rock a couple of times to avoid icy spots.
The snow is melting, as you can see.
Blanca looks huge from the summit of Little Bear. Apparently there is a way to get there from here across that ridge!
The descent on the steep snow was somewhat nerve wracking, but no more so than the walking in the dark wondering if critters are lurking. Reminds me of the old Soundgarden song, "All your fears are lies." The traverse back to the descent gully seemed endless. Eventually I reached it and was rewarded with a delightful glissade down to Lake Como. Then the Lake Como road seemed endless! The only thing to break the monotony was the occasional traveler. They were all very interested in the road ahead and just how much farther up it was to the lake. I gave them the only advice I have for that road, which is it is best hiked when the sun isn't on it.
The Blanca group was under an ominous dark cloud by noon. I guess a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms is pretty high!
Now there are three summits in Colorado above 14k for me to stand on and look around. If the marmots are willing, this will happen next weekend. Anybody going to be down there to celebrate with me?
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