| Little Bear on a near perfect climbing day
This won't be the best trip report around, but I do want to relay conditions to those of you who are planning to climb LB in the next few days.
First, it could not have been a better day to climb LB. Ideal temperatures (20s to 30s); moderate wind; not a cloud in the sky; near-perfect snow in the important sections. If everyone encountered the conditions that we did yesterday, then few would fret over LB (other than for it being one hell of a workout).
We encountered sustained snow approximately 1/3 of a mile from Lake Como. Postholing was pretty common (up to knees at times) until the eastern part of the lake (which is still frozen, but for a few of the edges). Ascending on the east side of the lake, we were posting up to our crotches. The weather was warm this weekend, and we were walking to and around the lake after noon.
We left camp for the summit at 4:20 a.m. the next morning, and hit the summit at 8. It had dropped below freezing during the night, so the snow was firm all the way up, but softened considerably on the way down. There is a very clear and distinct snow trail up the first gully -- stair steps compliments of people before us. Some mixed conditions at the top of the gully toward the hour glass, but as you traverse, the more snow you get.
The hourglass was completely full of snow, all the way to the top. Again, stair steps compliments of about 10 people before us. Snow held with every kick and axe placement. Rockfall was of absolutely no concern. For us, it was steep enough in most places from the summit back down to the hourglass to face in on the decent, but I don't know if it's necessary (I suppose it depends on snow conditions). A person or two had glissaded from the hourglass down about 200-300 feet.
The descending traverse back to gully was getting slushy in parts, and icy where mixed with rocks. We plunge-stepped half way down the gully, and glissaded the last half.
This weekend, there was plenty of snow up there, but the trail was getting pretty dug in on the way up and beat up on the way down (people plunge-stepping down the same path they used to get up).
Good luck. One heck of a day for us. One to go for me!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):