Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,037 feet
Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Date Posted:  08/22/2009
Date Climbed:   08/09/2009
Author:  Tommy Dorr
 The Traverse of LB/Blanca  

Yeah, so Nathan and I (Tommy) decide to take a shot at the traverse if the weather holds as predicted... we at least assume we'll summit Little Bear. We borrow my brothers 87 mod Toyota (sick, sick 4x4) and leave CS at 1100am on Saturday. We hit our first snag in Walsenburg when we realized I didn't have my brothers GAS CAP KEY. So I take apart a section of the gas tank, so we could get fuel in, and shortly after we were on our way. Image We munch down our last cooked meal at the "Elvis Dinner" in Fort Garland and start up Lake Como Rd. This year seemed more eroded than the last couple of years. We ran into an H3 that got hung up on the way down and almost spilled over one of the nasty sections. An extra challenge that just added to the story. We make it to Jaws 1 and parked it. About an hour later, we made the upper side of Lake Como and found a great spot out of ear shot of our "4x4 enthusiast" neighbors. We didn't have our tent poles and so the plot thickened. Thank God for hiking poles, climbing webbing and rocks.
We awake at 4:10 and hit the trail 4:45. We were still using headlamps when we hit the ridge at the top of the boulder strewn gully. Image Here are a couple of shots over the overrated "hourglass". Not a good place to be if there are other climbers above (or below) you. Easy class 4 though. We certainly did not utilize the series of aged ropes. Image Image Image
We summit Little Bear at 7:15, eat, harness up, and mentally prep for the longest and hardest of the Four Great Traverses. Roach describes it as "the most astonishing connecting ridge in Colorado". That in mind, we started across at 7:45 under perfect conditions. Image Image Image Image We were immediately welcomed by one of the first cruxes of the traverse. This initial down climb is very exposed and a bit tricky. Image Image Our options were reduced to the width of 1'. Once into the ridge, there really isn't any turning back. We estimated that about 10% - 20% of the entire ridge is 2' wide or less. Some stretches are so sharp, that straddling is simply not an option. Most of the ridge is very exposed on both sides to fatal drops. I recommend stopping occasionally to regroup your thoughts and get your head around what you're actually doing. This is no place for mental blinking. Image Image ImageImage Image
Here are a couple of shots of two different towers, one of which must be "Bivwacko Tower". We went around the left of both towers just to be sure. Nathan has a substantial amount of 5th class experience and has absolutely no fear. Therefore he led almost everything we did. I must say, he is the single-most reliable and professional person I've ever climbed with. Image Image Image
Some shots we just could not get due to the danger of stopping and whipping out a camera and putting it back. But here a some shots of the "safer" places. Image Image
Here is the famous "catwalk". Unreal exposure, but definitely doable. The bad part of the catwalk are the gaps you have to cross and the occasional down climb. Image Image Image Image Once you're past this you're home free, sort of. There are still a couple of tricky spots, but nothing compared to the first half of the traverse. Here's a zoomed in shot of some people on Blanca's summit. Image Image After about 30min. of safe class 3 scrambling we summit Blanca at 11:35. The traverse had taken us 3hrs. and 50min. Not bad, since we did take breaks.
Anyway... we down climb Blanca, pack up camp, hike back to the truck and get back down to the highway. Image Image

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

nice work man
02/05/2011 00:22
Nice Tommy! And the first TR I‘ve seen from you in a long time!
Definitely a worthy one.

Have you done the other 3 classic 14er traverses?


Nice work...
08/23/2009 02:18
...Tommy. I know you have been looking for partners for this trip for a month at least. Congratulations on a success.


Good job, mate!
08/23/2009 12:54
Great job on the traverse, Tommy! Am hoping to hit this one next year!


08/23/2009 21:19
I‘ll be using this beta when I try it.
Bet it was nice to high 5 after all were safely back down!

Nathan Hoobler

Sweet report, Tommy!
08/23/2009 22:19
Thanks for putting this together. It was a privilege climbing with you and now I know that we have to climb again!

Tommy Dorr

Thanks Fellas
11/30/2010 17:28
I appreciate all the kudo's and prop's. Nathan Hoobler (the guy in the post above) was definitely the man of the hour. A regular "Johnny-on-the-spot" with everything. We're planning on the Wilson Traverse ASAP.

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