Little Bear Peak is a magnificent peak that is part of the Blanca massif. Some consider Little Bear one of the most difficult 14ers. It's easiest route is Class 4. Little Bear can be seen for long distances from U.S. 285, U.S. 160 and U.S. 159. Little Bear rises dramatically from the valley floor 10 miles north of Fort Garland. Most of the mountain is surrounded by private land and the most reasonable access is via Lake Como. The Lake Como road and area is extremely popular with recreationists and is used by climbers, hikers and four wheelers on any given day. During summer weekends this is a particularly popular place. Little Bear Peak should be approached with caution. It is one of the most dangerous peaks in Colorado and the easiest and most popular route is Class 4. Loose, wet rock provides most of the danger. A helmet and some climbing experience is recommended. Some may opt for a rope.
Alamosa and Fort Garland are the closest towns to the Lake Como trailhead. From the junction of U.S. 160 & U.S. 150 east of Alamosa go north on U.S. 150 for 3.2 miles to an unmarked dirt road leading northeast. Follow this dirt road northeast toward the Blanca massif for 1.8 miles to 8000 ft. It is strongly recommended that ALL passenger cars and 2 wheel drive vehicles park here. The road continues all the way to Lake Como, but parking along the road is difficult and limited. The Lake Como road is rough. The grade is steep and is comprised of loose rock. The highest of clearance 4WD is required higher along the road and is impassable for regular, high-clearance 4WD vehicles. Hiking the road is generally faster than driving it!.
Lake Como Approach
This is the standard and most popular approach to Little Bear Peak. Park at 8000 ft. The road to Lake Como is 5 miles and gains 3,740 ft. This is one of Colorado's lowest trailheads and can be extremely hot and uncomfortable in the summer months. Plan accordingly. It is 5.0 tough miles up the 4WD road to Lake Como. The steep road climbs along Chokecherry Canyon and then angles northeast into Holbrook Creek. Holbrook Creek is followed to reach the outlet of Lake Como. Don't expect any water here. The road rests well above the creek and access to the creek is difficult. Upon reaching Lake Como hike around the north end of the Lake for 0.2 miles to some camping spots on a bench above the lake at 11,900 ft. The land on the south end of the lake is private property. From the bench Little Bear is less than a mile east and it's northewest face is the most prominent view.
Little Bear is surrounded by private property. Please respect the rights of property owners and avoid trespassing on any of their land. Lake Como is the main approach to Little Bear.
The HourGlass & Conditions
The hourglass is much talked about and rightly so. Little Bear is a dangerous mountain even under ideal conditions. The list is long of accidents and deaths on this peak. At a minimum a helmut should be worn through the hourglass and upper sections of the mountain. Rocks and debris from the upper mountain funnel directly into the Hourglass.
In general, the best climbing conditions are during the summer months. Snow may remain on the north-facing slopes until mid to late summer. Rain, sleet, and snow can turn climbing into an unforeseen adventure. Please assess the weather and conditions prudently before launching.
There are camping spots all the way up the Como Lake jeep road. A high camp above Lake Como on the benches is recommended. DO NOT camp at Como lake this is private land! Camping is also recommended as far away from the road as possible, unless one likes the sounds of gas powered engines.
Available in Links section
The Grand Slam
Many adventerous souls try for the Grand Slam: Little Bear, Blanca, & Ellingwood in one long day from a camp at or above Lake Como. It is best to attempt the traverse from Little Bear to Blanca first. This puts one off the ridge sooner rather than later and the risk of getting caught in a deadly storm can be mitigated, BUT not eliminated. Launching on the traverse to Blanca is a big commitment. You should assess the weather conditions, your energy reserves and your will before making the attempt. The traverse from Blanca to Ellingwood is both shorter and less technical. One can also opt out at the Blanca/Ellingwood saddle and head for lower ground.
- Little Bear Climb
Detailed story of a climb of Little Bears west Ridge.
- West Ridge Ascent Trip Report
Excellent account and photos of standard route ascent.
- Weather Forecast
- Little Bear Peak via Southwest Ridge
- Hourglass Couloir (05/20/2004)
- 14ers.com - The Home of Colorado's Highest Peaks
Fourteener Photos, Route Descriptions, Forum, and more...
- Little Bear Peak West Ridge route page
This page contains a detailed description written during an ascent of Little Bear Peak. Recorded GPS waypoints are also included.
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