Peak:  Little Bear Peak
 Route:  West Ridge and Hourglass
 Range:  Sangre de Cristo
 Posted By:  tjvanfossen
 Date of Info:  4/30/2023
 Date Posted:  5/1/2023

Mostly good conditions with a few exceptions. A few spots in and above the hourglass were very thin, requiring some mixed climbing. The choke point in the hourglass only had 1-2" snow on top of slab and likely won't be there in a day or two and what snow remains was sloughed around by us so isn't very supportive anymore. We found the crux to be an exposed rock section just above the hourglass covered with patchy snow, ice, and loose rock, as it required a few class 3-4 moves that were pretty sketchy given the conditions and steepness of the terrain. The final pitch to the summit was the steepest with the current snow conditions, rivaled by the loaded upper section of the first couloir from the lake. We didn't measure, but thinking 50-deg plus. There were also a couple mildly icy sections that were sketchy but still allowed front points. Would not recommend this route after another day or two knowing how quickly things are melting. But if you do go, start very early, snow softens by noon. We started at 3:45a and it took us 8hr 15 min lake-to-lake with breaking trail and kicking in steps. We did see one other group getting a very late start.. hoping they faired okay on the way down. And WEAR A HELMET, PEOPLE! We enjoyed this route, but would definitely never do it again, and would never ever consider setting foot on this route in the summer. The hourglass is a designed funnel deathtrap. This is not a peak to do if you're just looking to check it off your list.

Regarding gear: full packs, mix of summer and winter conditions. Boots to lake, snowshoes around the lake and up to camp near the base of the first couloir, crampons and axe for most of remaining route, but did switch to spikes for the "traverse". Avvy danger was low, but we also brought beacons, probes, shovels, because why not? Mountaineering boots and semi/auto crampons highly recommended (I rented and would not have felt safe with my stiff-but-not hiking boots and strap-on crampons).

#1) Down-climbing the sketchy exposed rock section (much steeper than picture shows)#2) Entering the hourglass (also much steeper than the picture shows)

Comments or Questions
Great summit
05/01/2023 13:52
I love the 14ers but every time I read about little bear it just seems this standard route is a disaster waiting to happen. I can take subjective risk very well but this objective risks just sounds ridiculous. Thanks for the report and descriptions. Capitol was fun to me but this hourglass part on bear keeps sounding more and more stupid. I trained for it this summer but am 70% sure I'm gong to cancel the ascent.

Do not cancel LB
05/02/2023 10:20
There are many other solid options to summit Little Bear. Just from the lake Como, look up the NW face route (I did it back in 2018 and it is mostly class 4) or once you gain the initial gully you can do the ridge direct. Several trip reports detail the options. You can descent the hourglass - all you have to do is wait until no one is descending above you and that will take 5-10 min in the danger zone. If you did Capitol, this mountain does not have the same time/focus commitment, just careful timing with the people above you.

Go early
05/04/2023 15:46
That part of the Sangres doesn't seem to get as much snow. If you go in the early spring or early winter then you'll have a bit more snow to keep things frozen together. Much less sketchy and pleasant to just walk up some steep snow.

Timely Update
05/04/2023 19:50
Thanks for the conditions update. We were getting ready to go on the 15th but sounds like we missed it and will have to wait for early winter now.

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