| Little Bear Peak
After reading all of the recent reports of good spring conditions on Little Bear, I couldn't resist giving it a try. Camping wasn't an option, so it would be a day hike from the car. We arrived at the Lake Como road on Thursday evening and were able to drive 3 miles up the road to about 8800'. Enjoyed this nice sunset and then got a few hours sleep.
Since this would be a day hike starting from the car, we knew it would have to be an early start to get off the snow before the day got too warm. Overnight temps were only around 40. We started walking up the road at 1:40 am. At little after 3:00 am, we arrived at the stream crossing, it wasn't running too high, we hopped on a couple of rocks and just walked through the rest. Here's a photo from the walk out.
At 4:15 am we arrived at Lake Como, worked our way around the lake, through some minor postholing and stashed some water and poles in the trees. At the base of the gully (5:00 am) we stopped to gear up with crampons, helmets and axes. Steady pace up the gully, footing was mostly good, encountered small areas of postholing at the base that made me concerned for the condition of the rest of the snow we'd be on today. Turned out not to be a problem with firm, crusty snow the rest of the way.
On top at the notch at 5:45 am. Crampons off and axes away for now. The traverse over to the Hourglass went smoothly, we were able to follow a cairned trail for most of the way. Looking ahead to the Hourglass, it had less snow than I thought we would find. Hoping that we still are able to take advantage of a mostly snow covered route up.
Shadow of Little Bear Peak.
Nearing the base of the Hourglass, there were several snowfields to cross. We used crampons and axes for these.
Reached the base of the Hourglass at 7:15 am. Very happy to see that there was still good snow cover. Weather was perfect, clear skies, no chance of storms, low winds with a gusty breeze here and there. Time to head up.
There was a significant break in the snow around 13,700'. Crossing that small bit of rock made me quite happy and appreciative to get back on the snow. The snow was firm with a bit of give, not icy. I was very glad we had started early.
Arrived on top at 8:10 to views of the Crestones, Blanca, Ellingwood, Lake Como and the route up.
Thoughts of getting down safely before everything warmed up too much were definitely on our minds. We stayed on top for 20 minutes and started heading down. Sunlight was just beginning to hit the very top of the gully.
Looking up and down near the top of the gully.
Near the steepest part at the top of the gully, we faced in to the mountain to descend, we also did this further down near the narrowest part of the Hourglass. In between we used a combination of side stepping and walking straight down. Snow was firm and not mushy or slippery yet, good conditions.
Near the narrowest part of the Hourglass.
Base of the Hourglass.
After traversing the snowfields, we took a break to remove crampons, put away axes and eat and drink. It was another perfect Colorado blue sky day.
Reached the top of the notch at 10:40 am and time to put crampons back on. The snow here was warm, wet and mushy and I was happy to get down it as quickly as possible and get off it. There was thigh-high postholing here and there were firm sections as well.
A last look back.
Finished the day with a 2.5 hour road walk back to the car.
Stats for the day:
5400 vertical feet
Climbers – highplaces, britdog
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):