Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,037 feet
Date Posted:  04/18/2011
Date Climbed:   04/16/2011
Author:  Mtn_Topper

 Taking a beating on the Bear  

Exiled Michigander provided an excellent account of the day on Little Bear so I really don't have that much to add. I think I would have done things a little differently if I did it again though I likely would still have failed to reach the summit. I parked about a mile past the lower parking area and started on the trail just after 5pm on Friday. My goal was to make it to Lake Como to camp for the night but decided to stop at the cabins at 7:20pm about 2/3 of the way up since it was getting dark .

I slept for maybe 3-4 hours and decided to get going at around 3am, which was about the same time Stiffler_from_Denver and Exiled Michigander passed by. In retrospect, I feel this was too early a start for me. I lost out on some possible rest and ended up at Lake Como at the worst possible time. When I got to Lake Como, the moon had just set and it took with it valuable light. I spent 20-30 minutes wandering through the trees looking for the route. It was windy, cold, dark and lonely. I love being up in the mountains alone but this time in the trees was no fun for me. At that moment wished I'd started an hour later and had better light.

I made to to the bottom of the gully leading to the west ridge just as dawn started to break. I made slow progress up the gully as I kept post-holing in the lower 3/4. I was feeling pretty cold and tried when I reached the ridge at around 7am, so I took a quick break to gather my strength, take in my surrounding and shoot a few pictures. Image
View of Lake Como from west ridge of Little Bear
The summits of Ellingwood, Blanca and Little Bear from west ridge

The wind was really howling as I slowly made my way along the top of the ridge. This wasn't particularly difficult terrain but it also was definitely not the place to slip or lose one's balance. When I reach the point where one would begin the traverse over to the Hourglass, I was feeling a bit uneasy about the snow-covered terrain I'd have to cross. Given the conditions and that fact that at that moment I was alone, I made the hard choice to turn around at around 8:30am and battle Little Bear another day.

The trip down the mountain was exhausting but uneventful. The weather on the descent was perfect and made turning back even that much more painful. I made it back to my car just before 2pm. If I did it again as a spring climb, I think I would leave from the base late at night rather than trying to camp. The camping did not benefit me the way that I had hoped the the heavy pack was no fun to haul of that road. I am not looking forward to going up the Lake Como Road again but it is unavoidable if I'm going to take another crack.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Thanks to you too.
06/02/2011 14:57
Thanks for your perspective and thoughts on your experience. I, myself, like hiking from time to time solo but I never enjoy it if I feel lonely. There is definitely a difference! Climb another day!!

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