Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,041 feet
"South Little Bear" - 14,028 feet
Date Posted:  02/10/2015
Date Climbed:   02/08/2015
Author:  Yikes
Additional Members:   MarkMadness
 "Not so Little" Bear   

I wasn't going to write up a Trip Report since there are great ones out there already for this route. But Mark took some good photos of me dancing on the ridge and I didn't want them to be wasted bits on some hard drive. Remember to "View With Large Photos", it'll be like you were there.

As the list of remaining Winter 14ers diminish, I am starting to run out of easy walk-ups. Okay, so no Winter 14er should be considered an easy walk-up. Even with the mild weather over the past few Winters (which makes me feel like I'm cheating), I find myself having to work hard for the summit and am left sore for a few days after. Last weekend we turned around at treeline on Massive due to winds that perhaps wouldn't have prevented a summit but would have made it a totally unenjoyable summit. With minimal wind in the forecast, I was looking forward to a nice outing on a peak with a nasty reputation. Although much shorter than the summer route via the Hourglass, with 6'000 gain in a 8 mile RT, the SW ridge was definitely going to be an exertion. The Trip Reports indicated that most groups took 12-14 hours which provides some insight on the difficulty.

Like a lot of people, I don't sleep well before these trips. I think I eeked out 2 hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 2:30. Out of the house at 3am for the 2 hour drive to the trailhead. Traffic was light at that time of day...The directions on Summitpost were pretty good, although I wrote down the wrong distance on the diagonal street so wasn't sure we were on the correct road for the final stretch. But it was pretty obvious when we reached the 90 degree left turn (and confirming with the GPS didn't hurt). The last two roads are...rough. Just like driving up a stream bed.

On Summitpost, Lemke says the route is "quite pleasant below treeline", but I'm not sure I would agree. The bushwhacking led us on a Family Circus route through tight pinon, cactus, snow patches, and talus that would have been disconcerting in the dark if not for geojed's gpx file downloaded to my Garmin. Once we were on the far side of the creek and higher on the ridge where it narrows, things felt a little more obvious.
Our route through the forest

The wind decided to ignore the forecast and was pretty strong and gusty early in the morning. I didn't want to turn around like we did on Massive and was really hoping it would die off as the day progressed. It did, but not until we were nearing Mama Bear.
One big pile of rocks

Out of the trees. The summit must be right around the corner...

If I wasn't facing West, I'd say that was Kansas


Mark sprinting ahead

I felt pretty good making progress on the ridge until around 13,000 went I hit the proverbial brick wall. Okay I guess it was more of a talus wall. But as most of these things go, just put one foot in front of the other and repeat about 21,000 times (assuming ~2 ft per step averaged out over the 8 miles...).
Now it gets fun

Remember to fall to the right

I was a little concerned on the difficult of the crux, hoping I wouldn't be forced to turn around 98% of the way to the summit. But with the existing conditions, the crux wasn't much of a crux. Having read all of the trip reports, I had the bypass planned out ahead of time and didn't even give myself time to consider other options. Okay... there is the obstruction on the ridge, there is the middle ledge bypass, drop down to the ledge, cross over, climb up, crux over. Piece of cake. I can see how it could be intimidating if buried by snow, but we were fortunate that it wasn't any more difficult than it would be mid-summer. We carried our ice axes and crampons but they were not needed.
Das crux

A window on Blanca

All three in one winter

Heading back to South LB

Anyone up for a ridge run?

Hmm, which way to go?

I started feeling a little sick on the descent after retracing our steps across the crux. Not sure if it was a little altitude sickness, or perhaps the large bowl of mussels that was dinner the prior night. Next time I think I may choose a more standard pre-hike dinner. So the hike down went slowly, but we made steady progress. Snow was softened in the heat and we frequently found ourselves in knee deep slush.
Mark basking in the spring-like temperatures

Cactus and pinon

I tried to use the GPS to retrace our steps through the lower section, but I couldn't find our tracks in the snow even though the GPS said we were exactly on top of them. Using the GPS, angled through the forest and ended up right at the truck just as it got dark. Happiness.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Comments or Questions
Brian Thomas
very nice
02/11/2015 14:22
This route has been written up before but I am enjoying following your snowflake collection in progress, keep posting ’em plz!

What Brian said...
02/11/2015 16:28
Love the Family Circle reference. And I always enjoy your reports. How long did it take you car to car?

Nice snowflake!
02/11/2015 16:34
I think that route is a great alternative and glad you got the summit. Looked like a great day with weather.

02/11/2015 17:48
Nice job fellas, wish I couldve joined for this one!

Car to car
02/11/2015 17:52
It was right at 13 hours.

Nice, Jim
02/11/2015 22:35
What a great day. I need this vicarious livin’ these days

Lake Como Road
02/13/2015 03:08
What is lake Como Road you came up. Can you go in more detail about the snow conditions on the road?

Lake Como Road
02/13/2015 03:09
Ment to say (Was)

02/14/2015 03:27
We were not on Lake Como Road, so cannot speak to snow conditions. there wasn’t much snow on our road, which stopped at 8800.

Summit Lounger
Reading in the tropics
02/17/2015 13:50
Congratulations on your ascent. It is kinda fun reading TRs sitting here in the tropics.

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