Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,037 feet
Date Posted:  03/24/2014
Date Climbed:   03/21/2014
Author:  Bean
Additional Members:   Gueza
 Starting the season off right   

I've been itching for ski mountaineering season to roll back around, and we're finally getting there. Much of the state isn't ready yet, but with its thinner snowpack and warm, sunny weather, the Sangres are rapidly coming in to condition. The timing on this climb was a bit unusual, with Eric and I heading straight down for the climb after a full day of work on Thursday and skipping the couple hours of poor sleep that these days typically start with.

We made it up to 9,800′ on the Lake Como road before being stopped by snow, and were moving at 1am. Despite a relaxed-feeling pace, we made quick work of the road and hit the base of a north-facing couloir at 2:30am. This was our one point of concern in regards to snowpack stability, and we spent a full 90 minutes digging pits, poking around, discussing, and slowly working our way in to the line before making the call to continue upwards.

By 4:30am we were on top of the ridge at 12,600′. For a while we made decent time, but the long, flattish sidehilling traverse took its toll.

Conditions in the Hourglass were almost perfect for climbing, the vast majority being perfectly cramponable snow with only occasional bouts of wallowing. We were pretty worn out by this point though, and took about an hour to finish the top 500′.

We topped out shortly after 8am, happy to be there and thrilled with the consistent snow coverage for the descent.

The weather was as calm and comfortable as it gets, with no need for extra layers for lounging on the summit.

Ready to descend, we took in the beauty of this mountain range one more time before pushing off.

Conditions were quite hard and icy but exceedingly smooth and consistent which made for a fun, safe, enjoyable descent. We didn't take any photos during the descent, but Eric had his POV cam running so here's his video:

We were mildly dreading the ski on the way up, but it turned out to just be fun and fast. Once out of the hourglass we zipped as far as we could along the ridge, then it was back to crampons.

After what felt like an eternity, we were back to the notch in the ridge that drops to Lake Como. Greeting us was a fun, soft ski down that was pretty tough on our tired bodies.

The road was miserable as expected, with the exception of sighting several bighorn sheep. At noon - eleven hours after starting out, and 31 hours after I woke up for work on Thursday - we were back to the car. The drive down the road was anything but trivial, but we made it, grabbed lunch in Blanca, and both made it home safely. I consider myself quite lucky in that I've skied all three of the Lake Como 14ers in only two trips up that miserable road. I couldn't imagine a better way to kick off the spring peak season. Thanks Eric, for the great day out and for abusing your vehicle up and down the road.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Download GPX file cannot be downloaded (per author)

 Comments or Questions

03/24/2014 16:57
That's a long day this time of year, but it's hard to beat views of the Blanca Group covered in snow. Congrats on the ski descent.


03/24/2014 17:46
Man, I did that after-work no sleep assault on LB in snow like 4 years ago and there was no way my legs had the strength for that endless sequence of jump turns you guys made descending the hourglass. Not to mention skiing the notch couloir...I went down that thing facing in half unconscious. Very impressive ski descent gentlemen!!! Plus, I'm sure about 50 lurkers have been pining for a Hourglass Snow Report!


Seen better
03/24/2014 19:43
That's it? I expected more after all my lurking.

(seriously, awesome job and thanks for the report!)


Is that a soft shell?
03/25/2014 17:26
Nice report. You two made quick work of that. 31 hours awake..... Were you seeing strange things?


03/25/2014 17:36
No softshells were harmed (or utilized) while making this trip report. Hardshell bibs and windstopper jacket. Trying to put some gear through the wringer which means foregoing preferred options sometimes.

No hallucinations, and I wasn't even that tired. It was 40 hours of waking time before I finally got to bed, 9 hours later my eyes popped open and it was back to normal life. Not really sure how that worked out.


Strong work
03/25/2014 19:06
You guys are either animals or machines. That's a strong one-day push. I'm thinking that maybe the 90 minutes you spent assessing avy conditions would have allowed me enough time to catch up? Nice start to what will hopefully be a long season.


03/26/2014 02:21
Good work.


Good job guys!
03/26/2014 15:17
I really enjoyed the video.


Nice Work Guys
03/27/2014 02:52
Looks like the ski window is open for business.


03/27/2014 20:12
You know those 3k, snowflake, ski, and solo symbols you can add on your peak list? I think Bill should add a jackrabbit with bloodshot eyes option to represent moving like you guys do on no sleep.

I just did that line four days after you guys. Your ski tracks were mostly obliterated and your bootsteps were mostly filled in, but the for the final 500' I had a nice stair step. I think I owe you guys a booter.


04/02/2014 19:47
Thanks for the report. I'm planning to do LB in mid/late May and it's nice to see what the snow pack looks like. Having already done Blanca & Ellingwood I'm hopping to be able to 4x4 up to Jaws 1. We'll see if the snow permits.

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