Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,037 feet
Date Posted:  06/08/2020
Date Climbed:   06/07/2020
Author:  SpringsDuke
Additional Members:   HikesInGeologicTime
 #51 Little Bear Peak   

#51 Little Bear Peak

2am start time under the full moon. No need for headlamps or flashlights this night.

My original plan was to do the Southwest Ridge route and do the bushwhack my own creative way to make that part easier. BUT the winds were to high for a ridge run this day so we went for the standard route and Lake Como Rd and the Hourglass it was to be. Geez, I tried so hard to avoid those two on this trip but winds have another plan I guess.

Lake Como around twilight hour. We parked at 8500 feet on the road. From now on though if I ever want to go back up to Lake Como it will be in a ATV.

Done with road and time to go up the gully to the West ridge, Its the closest gully to Lake Como and has a lower point of entry on the ridge than the other gullies around it.

Up the gully. It is loose and easy to create small and medium sized rockfall unless you are careful. That would be the trend on this route.

Some easy and short snow to climb at the top of the gully. Micro spikes and ice ax were used.

Exit the gully and take a look at Little Bear from other side of the West ridge.

Headed towards the Hourglass. This snow was still done with micro spikes but crampons would have been much nicer to have on this snow because it was steeper and more compact than the snow we encountered earlier. Still we were able to use our ice ax to create steps and go up the snow to the hourglass.

Still climbing the snow to the Hourglass and now you can see some small amounts of snow at the bottom of the hourglass.

Bottom of the Hourglass

Above the snow in the Hourglass which was easy to get up. Ice was serious in the Hourglass today. It forced some Class 5 moves in my opinion.

You can see the rope in this photo. Good thing we didn't use it at all as it was over ice anyhow so we couldn't get to it, but even more shocking was seeing that rope was not anchored in anywhere and was just simply frozen in the ice.

Climbing the Hourglass, avoiding the ice by making some crazy moves without a rope or harness at this time. Again same with the rope seen in this photo it was simply hanging in the Hourglass frozen to the floor by the ice and was heavily damaged and unsafe.

Up at the anchor to inspect it. The red harness has some wear and fray to it where it grips the rock. We added an orange one as well to be sure we would be safe.

The rope in this photo was good. So we used it. Only problem was it was not long enough to get HikesInGeologicTime up the crazy ice shoot in the Hourglass. So it was time to put in the work to make this summit happen for us all. It took many hours in high winds. Next time I would say lets bring the walkie-talkies cause even when you can see each other or are in close range the winds can deafen everything.

Looking down the Hourglass from just below the rope anchor. HikesInGeologicTime is at the bottom about 20 feet below the snow seen in the photo. That is were the ice was thick and wide and was very dangerous to climb without protection.

Up comes TallGrass to set up the ropes. These moves are dangerous and he is roped and harnessed right now but not from above him at the anchor but below him just to be sure a fall isn't a total fall.

New steel cable installed as an anchor. Should last much longer without the same quick wear and tear the ropes take. Only problem is it is only rapped around the rock so if that rock goes well...Would have been nice to bolt it in better but it is still nice to have up there as is.

Other than that we had to tie good ropes together to make it long enough to get down to our climbing partner and get him up. We also picked up and carried out ALL the other bad ropes in the Hourglass and even ended up cleaning up a bunch of trash too. So as of today 06/08/2020 I would say the rope in the Hourglass is trustworthy. But as Ive said already the wear and tear and the fray the ropes take is obvious even after our small usage. Rockfall hits the ropes and cuts them as well. Im guessing that causes most of the damage.

But again as of now we have added the steel cable anchor around the rock. We tied 4 rappel ropes together that all had good cores and only a few areas of small fraying. Since it is 4 separate ropes tied together when you rappel down or belay up or down you have to have secondary protection to lock yourself in as you or your belay switch from one rope to the other and bypass the knots that connect them.

Belayed HikesInGeologicTime up the Hourglass a success.

We went to climbers left of the anchor to finish the route to the summit. This side is not so lose as it is steep climbing.

Climbing up the face to Little Bears summit.

Some step and exposed climbing even at the top of the summit. No protection after the red harness anchor so this is all free climbing.

True summit in view.

Summit Views. Blanca traverse and Ellingwood Point.

Summit Views. South Little Bear.

Summit Views. West ridge we have to take back down and Lake Como.

Climbing partners hit the summit.

Coming off the summit we decided to go down the other side of Little Bears summit to avoid the steep climbing. This side was the loose side folks talk about that sends the rocks down the Hourglass. As long as you move carefully you can do it without sending rocks down but this side is where the most dangerous rock fall goes down the Hourglass. Man made or not.

We all used the newly tied together rappel ropes to descend the Hourglass. It was a lot of work to keep yourself safe and locked in while the ropes changed 4 different times and you had to bypass the knot that ties them together to keep moving.

But this was the best and safest option to improvise for ourselves. And again as of today 06/08/2020 the hourglass has one rope going from the anchor all the way to the bottom (well 4 ropes tied into one rope). And we carried out ALL other ropes that were damaged or frozen into the earth and were unsafe.

Back to the West ridge following cairns to get back to the gully down to Lake Como. Cairns on the ridge have a lower route and an upper route. I noticed cause we took the lower cairn trail to the Hourglass but took the higher cairn route on the way back.

On the west ridge direct looking back at Little Bear Peak

On the west ridge direct going back to the gully. Fun ridge. The West Ridge Direct Route may be one to look into for a future climb. We did ponder that as well today and even brought the gear needed to make that happen as well but again the winds were to strong.

Back to the gully ready to glisade snow and scree and get down fast!

Back to Lake Como looking forward to the last time I ever walk that blister causing, ankle rolling, foot bruising road again!

Little Bear Peak

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

06/08/2020 15:44
The one and same who was banished years ago? Hadn't heard that name in a while. Tell him I miss his contributions to the forum.

Nice work knocking off Little Bear and cleaning up the trash ropes.


Ice ice baby
06/08/2020 18:10
Sounds like it got worse since I was there. Congrats on a successful day gang

Re: Tallgrass?
06/08/2020 21:48

Yes it is that same Tallgrass. I recently met him in January of this year when he came along with another friend of mine to do Bierstadt. Ill let him know as I believe he also misses contributing. I mean it wasn't my idea to spend 3 hours climbing up and down the hourglass to make it safe and clean as possible in high winds. That was exhausting! But it made for an even more epic adventure and I can appreciate Tallgrass dedication a little more now after 6 hours of sleep lol.


Thank You
06/09/2020 15:03
Thank you very much for cleaning up and removing all that rope, cord, and webbing and also for setting a steel wire anchor that will hopefully prevent dozens of more webbing/cord anchors in the future. What did you use for an attachment point on the wire, a steel carabiner or something else?

No need for the thanks
06/09/2020 18:58
But I appreciate it. My friend Tallgrass installed that so I cant say exactly but he is thorough. I do believe it was a steel carabiner. I asked him to clarify and he said he may have your info and let you know directly. Hope that helps!

06/09/2020 20:42
Looking to climb LB in mid-July. Thanks for setting up the new anchor!


Thank you
06/15/2020 09:04
Much appreciation for this posting and all the work that you and your hiking partners performed. That's a big day!

06/16/2020 08:12
My friend just tried to get up the hourglass this past weekend and it looks like the rope you set up and anchor are already frayed. Incredible that in such small amount of time that can happen. They turned around as it was nasty icy there...

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