Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 37.56670°N / 105.4967°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 12, 2019
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Lessons Learned From Little Bear Peak Trip

Completed Little Bear, Blanca, and Ellingwood as part of a CMC trip on 09.12.19 and 09.13.19. There is a lot of information on Little Bear from previous trip reports but I wanted to add a few tidbits for anyone looking to head out there to play:

  1. Once you get to the anchor point for the first rope, I HIGHLY advise heading left, following an orange-ish colored gully which virtually runs up to the summit. I have read other reports that mentioned this as well, but for some reason, we followed the second rope line up and to the right toward South Little Bear, where everything was much more rotten. This also gave us more opportunities to kick rock off and down into the hourglass. The picture below shows us traversing back across the upper mouth of the hourglass, which was incredibly rotten.

 

2019 Little Bear Pk-06
2019 Little Bear Pk-06

We descended the correct way which was much more stable, and also halved the distance we have to travel/traverse where we could kick rock off into the hourglass. Check out the picture below where we are setting up a rappel for info. This is where you want to hang a left before the rock outcrop near the anchor point.

 

20190912_102413_HDR
20190912_102413_HDR

 

2. At the time of our climb, the lower rope and anchor were in great shape. I carried 30m of 8+ mm rope with me but didn't end up using it. We all rappelled from the lower anchor station (see pic). The upper rope, which you should not be interested in following anyways unless you were tagging South Little Bear, was in terrible condition. The sheath was shredded in multiple locations. Since we did not descend that way we did not clean it. We did manage to clean about 150 feet or so of rope remnants that were coiled/thrown around up by the anchor station.

3. Rockfall danger here is real. We went mid-week, and coordinated ascent and descent times with the only other party out there. Our leader who is a very experienced climber and mountaineer (just returned from Denali) somehow dislodged a football-sized rock in the hourglass. Everyone yelled rock, and I trailing as the assistant trip leader looked up to try to spot it. I was behind a pretty good wall, but the climber in front of me and to my right was exposed. He quite literally just flung himself to the wall a millisecond before that rock took his head off. It must have missed him by 2-4 inches. If he had done what I did (looked up), he would have had a really bad day. This picture was taken seconds before that happened.

 

20190912_082233
20190912_082233

4. There was a short section of verglas in the hourglass that could have made a down-climb a little tricky. I have been rock climbing a lot recently so I have gotten much more confident with my climbing skills, but I was thinking that would be a polished, low 5th class down-climb if you did not have spikes.

5. The route is short, but punchy at points. The gully leading down to Lake Como is also rotten and terrible, and at one point, one of our climbers kicked off a beach ball sized rock which tumbled 100-150 feet or so to the talus floor.

 

20190912_094512_HDR
20190912_094512_HDR

6. Blanca and Ellingwood were relatively easy except for small route finding issues on Ellingwood.

7. Another thing I would like to note to for campers to be cautious of widowmakers up at Lake Como. There is a lot of beetle kill up there and the winds can howl. I learned that lesson this summer when a woman was killed in her tent a couple of miles up the trail from us on the Colorado Trail by a massive pine tree in little to no wind. We all pitched in areas surrounded by live trees.



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Kiefer

Kiefer - Oct 17, 2019 1:41 pm - Voted 7/10

I hear ya...

on doing this mountain mid-week. That's what i did.
Also, on a Spring climb, a buddy of mine elected to head climbers right instead of following us despite me telling him it's rotten over there. And as expected, when we connected back up below the summit for the final snow push, he reported it as loose crap.

Do South LB next time. It's a surprisingly good summit. Do it from the ranch though. Don't traverse. You miss out on some of the exposure of the South Ridge!

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