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LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby steelfrog » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:19 pm

Perhaps this is not the appropriate place, but at some point I, for one, would like to know people's opinion about the role of a large butt in hiking and mountain climbing? Perhaps this discussion is worthy of its own thread?

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby turbocat » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:23 pm

The more surface area for the glissade, the better.
Less cowbell...more CAIRN!

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby Monte Meals » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:50 pm

I was recently climbing a 14er with an attractive lady friend in the lead.

She obviously understood my appreciation of "The View" and coyly asked:

"Does this mountain make my butt look fat?"




And many of my friends wonder why I enjoy hiking in the mountains.

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby Fisching » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:20 pm

Expect difficulties to remain the entire time as soon as your reach the Black Hand on the NW Face ascent of Little Bear. There are places where it's a low class 5 climbing, including the descent off of Little Bear to where you reach the ridge from the NW Face route. Plus, coming down from the summit makes sit a downclimb class 5. There's plenty of knife-edges & catwalks to deal with that offer insane exposure. None of the other peaks I've done nor any of the other great traverses compare in this regard.

Oh, wear a helmet. We saw someone ascending Little Bear last week who didn't have a helmet. That's as good as having a death wish. They also knocking a rock down on someone in our group which stuck his hand and drew blood.
Peter Aitchison on the risks of rock climbing and mountaineering: "That's life, isn't it? We think the challenge and satisfaction you get from doing this is worth the risks."

"Respect the mountain. Train hard. Hope you can sneak up when it isn't looking."

"The mind is always worried about consequences, but the heart knows no fear. The heart just does what it wants."

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby Tatra » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:35 pm

It is an amazing climb and if you decide to do it you will have the most exhilarating memories!  I just did it last weekend and loved it.  I have done  the Bells, Wilson-El Diente, Arapaho Peaks traverse and Capitol before and it definitely helped me on this crazy ridge.  I also try to rock climb once a week and I love the exposure.   Definitely wear approach shoes and have a rope in case of the bad weather or accident emergency.  We never used our rope or an alpine rack as the weather was amazing and we could take our time.  I thought that the second part was much more difficult.  I was getting very tired and had to concetrate.  Coming around one of the towers closer to Blanca was freaky, and the last catwalk was probably the most exposed and narrow and you had to trust some rocks that did not look too stable.  We were told that the first part- downclimbing on the slab/ knife edge (class 5) was supposed to be the worst but we changed our opinion later. The true crux was maintaining a high level of concentration for a mile of dangerous climbing.  Make sure you feel 100%, start early, wear a helmet, don't rush and do it in a perfect weather. Good luck!          

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby gdthomas » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:52 pm

Monte Meals wrote:I was recently climbing a 14er with an attractive lady friend in the lead.

She obviously understood my appreciation of "The View" and coyly asked:

"Does this mountain make my butt look fat?"




And many of my friends wonder why I enjoy hiking in the mountains.


Nice! She knew you were looking, didn't care, and most likely expected you to keep looking =D>; unless, of course, you were stupid enough to answer her question with a "yes".

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby Rossback » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:29 pm

I'll be flying out of Alamosa tomorrow AM heading to the Reno air races. I'll see if we can get close enough for a good photo. LB & Blanca were socked in tonight and there was good snow cover in the North Valley that we could see before the sun dropped. I would bet there's a pretty good chance the snow will be around this weekend.

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby Brian C » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:43 am

usfgal wrote:So, my questions--I have read that the initial downclimb off of LB is one of the scariest parts of the traverse. Could this be used as a 'test'? I.e., if I get down that section, can I be reasonably confident that the rest isn't going to get that much worse?

I suppose you could use it as a "test". Here is a photo of the downclimb...
Image

My concern would would be that if exposure is what freaks you out, the downclimb won't be the crux for you. Although the rest is easier, it is consistently exposed and if you "freeze up" halfway there's nowhere to go or to bail.

Here are a few exposed spots on the ridge...
Image

Image

Image

This is after is "gets easy" and yes it is the same on the other side.
Image

usfgal wrote:My weakness is that when I am in a situation where I think, 'once I commit to this move, I might die if I miss, something goes wrong, etc,' I don't manage the fear (which quickly becomes terror) very well. I tend to freeze and my legs turn to jelly, which freaks me out even more.


I'm not sure I would recommend this route for you just yet. Not saying that you can't do it, you just likely won't enjoy it a whole lot if you're freaked out the whole time. It's a LONG way over tricky terrain between the 2 peaks and I'd say that speed of movement is a tremendously important factor so being comfortable is pretty important. It's be a bummer to do this great route and have zero fun.

This is the most fun I've had on a scrambling route on a 14er and it's a wonderful experience. That said, I have a buddy who did this early in his scrambling career and he considered the single most traumatic experience he's ever had in the mountains. He thought he was going to die the entire time and pretty much hated the route the whole time he was on it. The rock is solid, but that doesn't mean everything can be trusted. There are loose holds on the traverse mixed in with the solid stuff. It does "ease off" halfway through but the exposure is basically the same the whole way. I also used to be strongly affected by exposure. I did Kelso Ridge early on and found it so terrifying that I swore off scrambling. I just did a lot of class 3/4 routes and gently bumped up the difficulty. Now, I feel like when I'm in an "airy" spot my brain almost filters the exposure out.

Work up through more difficult routes and pretty soon you'll be here and having a blast...
Image
Brian in the Wild
Lists of John
"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." - Wordsworth

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby wildlobo71 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:28 am

Knowing what I've been through in my short mountain climbing/summiting life, this was far and away the most exhilarating and exhausting climb I've ever done. We were told that the hard parts are in the first 3rd to half of the traverse, and while that may be true in a technical, climb-rating sense, that's still when you have fresher legs under you and the time is on your side. The last half comes, perhaps judging by just how long it took us to reach the Capt Bivwacko point, and you still cannot believe how much more work is in front of you... now the true difficulty comes in as you are starting to get tired, and that's when concentration can be lost. Even right when you think you should be at Blanca's saddle with the traverse, it throws in a couple more good catwalks with obscene exposure - there's one I distinctly remember seeing and, while thoroughly exhausted, thinking "okay this is going too far" when about a 10-foot long length of the catwalk is not aligned with the catwalk, but hanging out to the south side like a mini-diving board - it's not even a straight drop down for the exposure, it's a "teetering overhang"... in actuality the rock is solid, and you just get over it...

Try not to look down - too much, but appreciate where you are and that your abilities can get you through this (if you feel you are indeed ready for the challenge.)
Bill W.
Yes, I have my Scotch.

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby Rossback » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:09 am

It was socked in this morning but I got a glimpse of Blanca. Looks like snow above 12000ft. Good luck!

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby usfgal » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:14 am

Thank you so much for all of your replies--everyone was really helpful! The pictures were great (seems to look as fun as it does intimidating, but does look intimidating!). I am not sure what we're going to do--if we go, I'd like to at least plan to consider the traverse, so if the snow is an issue, we may just try it again some other time. Solid rock is a big deal to me. I'm fine as long as I don't feel like falling is a real possibility. I am finding that routes that some people consider to be really difficult or have loose rock don't bother me at all (I have done Kelso Ridge, the Sawtooth with some snow on it, Castle with some snow, Challenger/KC, Pyramid, Crestone, Capitol with some snow, Rainier, Hood, and others and had a blast on all of them), but then other places that wouldn't phase most people (crossing a loose scree slope with no holds--we're usually off-route when this happens and the top of that loose scree on S. Maroon on our way down) really get to me, b/c I feel like I am going to slip and tumble to a premature death. The friend of someone who thought he was going to die and terror-stricken the entire time... I'd be a basket case--I don't know how he was able to spend that much time being so afraid! (My husband could empathize with you.) So, it looks like if we go for it, I will come back with cool pictures, great stories to tell, and possibly need recommendations for a marriage counselor. :-D Thanks, again! Hopefully we'll see a few of you this weekend!

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Re: LB-Blanca Traverse Questions

Postby jth221 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:02 am

Just wondering if anybody had any new updates on the conditions?

Thanks

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