Little Bear 2024

Colorado peak questions, condition requests and other info.
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greenonion
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by greenonion »

Thanks for the couple of other responses. I had missed those recently.
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PikaSteve
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by PikaSteve »

seannunn wrote: Sat May 25, 2024 7:35 pm
Istoodupthere wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 8:35 am West Ridge Route…First off I’m not trying to encourage people to do LB if they don’t have that kind of experience. That being said, I felt it was a bit overhyped, at least as far as the hourglass goes. If you’re ok with exposure, I thought the hourglass was actually pretty enjoyable. Plenty of good hand and foot holds as long as you take your time and look for the best route. No need to use the rope in IMO. Find a nice mid-week day in late-summer or early-fall when there won’t be many people out there so you don’t have to worry too much about rockfall. I’d argue that the gully (steep and loose) and the section above the hourglass (route finding and loose rock) were comparably challenging. Although when I went, the gully had some ice and I went too far left at first above the hourglass.
I am curious as to what your thoughts are on descending the hardest portions. My brother and nephew said that the climb wasn't bad but the downclimb was one of the toughest things they have ever done. That seems logical to me since it is usually much harder to downclimb class 3+/4 terrain because you can't always see where you are putting your feet. Was that your experience on the hourglass and above?
(Little Bear may be on my agenda for 2025 if the Elks go well in a couple of months here.)

Sean Nunn
I feel like Photo 15 of the route description is a pretty honest view of the downclimb steepness and difficulty. With bone dry conditions, the easiest way down for me was to mostly zig zag on the cracks on the left side of the photo. Even a small amount of water may increase the degree of difficulty. With a mix of walking and crab-walking, I was facing out the entire way down, except for a 5 to 10 foot segment at the narrowest point of the hourglass. Ascending or descending, approach shoes were critical for me to feel comfortable on the smooth sections of rock. Little Bear via the hourglass was my most difficult climbing experience on any CO 14er, but it wasn't much of a step up vs the other Class 4 14er standard routes. My trip report includes some YouTube links that you may find useful: https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=21005 . On my second attempt, with dry conditions and only one other person on the route, I really enjoyed climbing up and down the hourglass (and hiking up and down the Lake Como Road). Good luck Sean and Stu.
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greenonion
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by greenonion »

PikaSteve wrote: Wed May 29, 2024 4:01 pm
seannunn wrote: Sat May 25, 2024 7:35 pm
Istoodupthere wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 8:35 am West Ridge Route…First off I’m not trying to encourage people to do LB if they don’t have that kind of experience. That being said, I felt it was a bit overhyped, at least as far as the hourglass goes. If you’re ok with exposure, I thought the hourglass was actually pretty enjoyable. Plenty of good hand and foot holds as long as you take your time and look for the best route. No need to use the rope in IMO. Find a nice mid-week day in late-summer or early-fall when there won’t be many people out there so you don’t have to worry too much about rockfall. I’d argue that the gully (steep and loose) and the section above the hourglass (route finding and loose rock) were comparably challenging. Although when I went, the gully had some ice and I went too far left at first above the hourglass.
I am curious as to what your thoughts are on descending the hardest portions. My brother and nephew said that the climb wasn't bad but the downclimb was one of the toughest things they have ever done. That seems logical to me since it is usually much harder to downclimb class 3+/4 terrain because you can't always see where you are putting your feet. Was that your experience on the hourglass and above?
(Little Bear may be on my agenda for 2025 if the Elks go well in a couple of months here.)

Sean Nunn
I feel like Photo 15 of the route description is a pretty honest view of the downclimb steepness and difficulty. With bone dry conditions, the easiest way down for me was to mostly zig zag on the cracks on the left side of the photo. Even a small amount of water may increase the degree of difficulty. With a mix of walking and crab-walking, I was facing out the entire way down, except for a 5 to 10 foot segment at the narrowest point of the hourglass. Ascending or descending, approach shoes were critical for me to feel comfortable on the smooth sections of rock. Little Bear via the hourglass was my most difficult climbing experience on any CO 14er, but it wasn't much of a step up vs the other Class 4 14er standard routes. My trip report includes some YouTube links that you may find useful: https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=21005 . On my second attempt, with dry conditions and only one other person on the route, I really enjoyed climbing up and down the hourglass (and hiking up and down the Lake Como Road). Good luck Sean and Stu.
Thanks much, Steve, for all of this.
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by randalmartin »

greenonion wrote: Wed May 29, 2024 12:16 pm
randalmartin wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 7:36 pm I climbed it in April 2021 and definitely would say that the downclimb of the hourglass, particularly the upper section was difficult in part because It was a layer of snow over ice. Was definitely a downclimb facing in.
Are you on the upper section in the photo? And the choke, or narrow section of the HG, is below you and to the left (looking down) of the rocks? Trying to get a sense of the steepness of the middle/narrow section.
That is the upper section before the choke. As you say, the narrow section is below and to the left. The photo doesn't really portray the steepness well. It almost looks like, why are you bent over like that LOL, but yes it's very steep. The axe and crampons were definitely holding me in place.
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greenonion
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by greenonion »

randalmartin wrote: Wed May 29, 2024 9:41 pm
greenonion wrote: Wed May 29, 2024 12:16 pm
randalmartin wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 7:36 pm I climbed it in April 2021 and definitely would say that the downclimb of the hourglass, particularly the upper section was difficult in part because It was a layer of snow over ice. Was definitely a downclimb facing in.
Are you on the upper section in the photo? And the choke, or narrow section of the HG, is below you and to the left (looking down) of the rocks? Trying to get a sense of the steepness of the middle/narrow section.
That is the upper section before the choke. As you say, the narrow section is below and to the left. The photo doesn't really portray the steepness well. It almost looks like, why are you bent over like that LOL, but yes it's very steep. The axe and crampons were definitely holding me in place.
I'm glad you said that, because I was thinking that doesn't look so bad/steep. Something nagging suggested otherwise though. Thanks for the clarification and overall input!
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by Pcypher »

Bumping this one back to the top. Considering attempting LB again next week. Anyone been up there recently? Curious about conditions before I trek out again. Also open to a partner if anyone is interested but am hoping for snow or mostly dry; not interested in ice climbing 😉
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by daway8 »

Pcypher wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 12:09 pm ...hoping for snow or mostly dry; not interested in ice climbing 😉
If that's the case it sounds like you've missed your window and will need to wait a good while for things to dry out.https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/peakstat ... cnum=29212
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by randalmartin »

Pcypher wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 12:09 pm Bumping this one back to the top. Considering attempting LB again next week. Anyone been up there recently? Curious about conditions before I trek out again. Also open to a partner if anyone is interested but am hoping for snow or mostly dry; not interested in ice climbing 😉
I am strongly recommending you do not attempt Little Bear in June. It's a bad month for that peak. You either need to get it as a snow climb or wait until it's melted out.
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by Pcypher »

Thanks for the replies and info.
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by CaptainSuburbia »

randalmartin wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 9:38 pm
Pcypher wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 12:09 pm Bumping this one back to the top. Considering attempting LB again next week. Anyone been up there recently? Curious about conditions before I trek out again. Also open to a partner if anyone is interested but am hoping for snow or mostly dry; not interested in ice climbing 😉
I am strongly recommending you do not attempt Little Bear in June. It's a bad month for that peak. You either need to get it as a snow climb or wait until it's melted out.
The SW ridge to LB is a good route in June.
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by HikerBox »

I'll just add that I rarely knock rocks down loose terrain but still knocked a ton of crap ascending/descending above the hourglass. There was no obvious stable path especially going down. Fortunately this was a snow climb in June years ago so no one else was on route.
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Re: Little Bear 2024

Post by andrewhamilton »

For some reason, despite some harrowing experiences in the hourglass, I still love Little Bear. I have been up it I think 20 times (seems like more but that is what I have recorded). The worst was when I was with a group of 5, including my daughter Scarlett and son Axel. We had literally just talked about what to do if some rocks started coming down the couloir, and sure enough 1 minute later someone knocked a huge rockfall down. My son Axel was ahead just above the narrowest part of the hourglass, and he managed to escape to the left. I grabbed Scarlett so hard that one of her shoes came off and tackled her and watched as bowling ball sized rocks shattered all around us. I'm not being dramatic here, and many people I talk to have a similar experience.

So for me, the hourglass as a route itself is actually quite enjoyable. In late summer, when the stream keeps the hourglass wet, somehow the rock is still pretty grippy. The problem really is the other climbers knocking stuff down on you.

There is a decent route that does not endanger everyone below you if you choose the hourglass route. If you plan to do the hourglass, please pay attention. Usually there is a rope in the hourglass. The place it is anchored to is below a large boulder. Where you go from here is the key. The worst option is to head climbers right. Unfortunately, there is often a second rope heading up in this direction. This choice is a disaster for anyone below you. No one wants to knock rocks down on those below, but you just can't help it in this section. Its a little better to just zig zag straight up from her, but one misstep in this section that knocks a loose rock can easily take more debris with it.

However, if at that large boulder where the first rope is anchored, you instead ascend to the left, most of the rubble is very small. So if you knock something down, at least it is smaller, and from what I have seen doesn't usually take a bunch of other debris with it. I usually follow an orange band up and left until I reach a small ridge, but if that seems a bit scary look for a big cairn way left on the little ridge. Once you find the trail on that ridge, you can definitely ascend without knocking rocks down.

It is important to pay attention here, because on the way down it is easy to get sucked onto the other route. Make sure you come back down the way you went up. I will look for some pics that show the key places I am talking about, and I will add those to this thread.
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