Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,041 feet
Blanca Peak  -  14,350 feet
Date Posted:  01/29/2011
Modified:  12/23/2013
Date Climbed:   01/29/2011
Author:  mountainmicah83
 Little Bear to Blanca Winter Traverse   

Little Bear to Blanca Traverse in Calendar Winter

As per Page 115 in Roof of the Rockies:
FA: Joe Merhar and Dale Norton, 1931
FWA: Charley Mace, solo, 1981(first and possibly only)

Climbing Party:
Matt Bruton (aka Bruton)
Micah Morgan (aka MountainMicah83)

Route: (Times are approximate)
1/28/2011 - Car at 8,800' to Cabin at Como Lake 11,750'- 2.5 Hours
1/29/2011 - Como Lake 11,750 to crest of West ridge of Little Bear circa 12,000'- 2 Hours
- West ridge circa 12,000' to base of Hourglass around 13,300'- 2.5 Hours
-Base of Hourglass to Little Bear Summit, 14,037' - 1.5 Hours
-Traverse to Blanca Summit 14,345' - 4.5 Hours
-Descent to Cabin at Como Lake 11,750'- 3.5 grueling hours of post-holing.
1/30/2011 -Como Lake to Car at 8,800'- 1.75 quick hours



Matt and I have been talking for quite some time about getting this climb done in winter and have held off and been patient for several reasons to include skill level, partner comfort, snow conditions, and weather. Our plan was to do the route in summer first to have a good feel of what we were up against but our planned attempt was quickly changed this past summer when Kevin Hayne passed on the same route the week before up Little Bear. Out of Respect, we decided to avoid the area and go get Capitol.

Matt has been a technical rock climber for about eleven years and about the point we met about 2 years ago after hour wives, who were high school Pals back in the day, introduced us. Almost immediately we were best bros that felt like we were had been friends since grade school. We had many similar interests to include mountain climbing and snowboarding. I expressed interest in learning more technical rock skills from Matt and he began to teach me the ropes, so to speak. I really had a desire to learn due to my love of the alpine and within one summer, I was a pretty solid 5.10 rock climber. While pushing myself on harder peaks and 2 other of the great 14er traverses (Bells, and Crestones) in Summer, and pushed my snow climbing skills in winter and spring. This past year especially, I began to bump my climbing up from just sport climbing with fixed bolts for protection to trad, or traditional, type of climbing where you place your own gear in the rocks and your partner picks it up as they second behind you. We have been practicing those skills on all types of adventure climbing throughout southern Colorado and our summer road trip ending at the fun 6 pitch Monkey Face west face variation route in Smith Rock, Oregon with our friend ImNotHeySean this past summer.

for the remainder of this stellar report, see my blog HERE

This was Freedom of The Hills at it's Best. God has made us a very beautiful playground to enjoy.

See you at the top!


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions
02/02/2011 23:46
Micah & Matt - It's an honor to have climbed with both of you in the past. That was purely epic. Outstanding. Balsy. Bravo!

The photos do it justice, but it was probably much scarier in person, I'm sure.

Pretty sure my wife would never let me try that route, LOL. Maybe when my son is grown.

Need to climb with you again soon.

Your humble pal...

02/02/2011 23:53
Nice work and great photos. I've been thinking of this route for this summer, now I want to do it in the winter!

Great report!
02/03/2011 00:00
I was thinking about this route and if anybody had done it in winter a few days ago. Nice to see somebody get it! Great photos and background as well.

It didn't look like you guys actually used any of the protection - did you feel the need at all?

Fine Job!
02/03/2011 00:19
Outstanding! I always wondered how that would look in the winter.

02/03/2011 00:22
That's all I have to say: Wow!

02/03/2011 00:30
I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures and the narrative. Thank you for the time put into this report.

Brian C
Wow indeed!
02/03/2011 00:31
This is awesome. Very nice work and major congrats!

02/03/2011 00:33
That's a monster day! Great effort

Very impressive!
02/03/2011 00:53
Definitely an epic day! Well done and glad you fellas are safe & sound.

Michael York
02/03/2011 00:58
Congratulations on your successful completion of that truly scary route. You guys are nuts and I loved reading about it! The pictures really top off the report... nice work!

02/03/2011 01:20
Congratulations to you both on what I can only imagine was an incredibly tough day, physically and mentally. That traverse is no joke in summer. Short of your photos I'm not sure I can really contemplate what difficulties winter would add to it, but I'm sure there were many. Nice work fellas.

02/03/2011 01:28
”I don‘t climb to be first or second. I climb because of the adventure and sense of self accomplishment.” This is exactly the attitude needed for something like this. Well done indeed.

02/03/2011 02:19
Inspiring, Will attack this one for sure, someday!
Great job guys.

Very nice
02/03/2011 02:33
Pretty damn amazing. Who cares if you are 2nd, 3rd, or 10th. that was a hell of an accomplishment.

Synchronicity....and plenty of Old Chub
02/03/2011 02:44
What's that you say? You think you saw Dancesatmoonrise up there? Impossible. He's an old man with a bad back, a hernia, a hearing aid, and a cane. Last I heard, he was begging that seeing-eye dog offa Stephanie.

(Cripes, it's amazing the exposure and climbing you end up getting ”comfortable” with, isn't it?)

Yes, seriously, I was summoned by the Great Spirit that day. Wild horses couldn't drag me away....

Benners and Pioletski had to talk me into that track, at the expense of LB that weekend, while meanwhile the Pacific Ocean was sending high pressure vibes our way for a mutual ascent of Little Bear. There are things in the world we don't see...

I'll have a story of my own to share soon - Looks like your end of the ridge was not much different from my end of the ridge. Fortunately, I was able to keep the pants relatively unsaturated for most of the traverse. Except for that doggone prostate problem. Harumph!

Nice work, guys, and a banner day with success all the way around. (Damn, it's about time...)

I love you guys. Great job!


02/03/2011 03:57
Amazing narrative and truly incredible pictures. Thank you for documenting such an amazing journey so well.

Damn you're good!
02/03/2011 04:22
Nicely done, gents (all 3). Thanks for a great story!

I don't know if I'd say your good or crazy
02/03/2011 06:20
Amazing trip! Outstanding report! Incredible effort! Only one other to have done this in winter? CONGRATULATIONS!

That 2nd photo of you climbing on the neon yellow rock (photo 36) should be a poster on your wall!


Nice work fellas!
02/03/2011 17:37
Job well done on such an incredible traverse, especially this time of the year... I am amazed though how little snow is on the upper portion of those peaks right now.

Great pictures as well. Shooting them must have led to some interesting scenarios with you hanging on over a some pretty exposed stuff huh?

Glad to see you briefly pay homage to the historical pioneers of this route. We need more of today's mountaineers to know the history of Colorado climbing before it is lost...

Thanks Everyone!
02/03/2011 17:46
Thanks for all of the positive comments everyone.
Just a couple of quick thoughts- I did forget to mention that we never used the technial gear. We felt sort of strange for not needing it but it was a peace of mind thing knowing we had it if needed and even worse if we needed to bail. We wanted to be prepared for anything and really just got lucky on conditions. It's all about being prepared, right?

As far as paying homage- I got my copy of Roof of the Rockies for $.70 on Amazon. Interestingly, Matt was able to contact Charley Mace on Facebook and befriend him. It would be awesome to have a beer with the guy. Doing a bit of deeper research, it was an truly honor to repeat a route of a guy with accomplishments such as his.

Agreed Thanks!
02/03/2011 18:12
Thank you all for the encouraging comments.
This was a climb that's been on my heart and mind for quite some time, and as micah says, It was just for us! Thank you Micah, for the companionship and enthusiasm on the climb and the flatland preparing for it.
Thanks also to Charley for doing it first. you were and still are an inspiration to me.

Climb on!


Best of 2011, so far! :-)
02/03/2011 18:28
Congratulations guys! This TR sets the bar for 2011! Micah - I remember climbing up the hourglass back in Aug '09, and you were attempting the NW face that day... I expected that we'd meet on the summit, but you guys got shut down that day... talk about going back and DOING IT IN STYLE! Wow I'm just super-stoked for you guys after reading this. Great report, great photos, and a climb that you and Matt will never forget. Way to go!

My how things how changed!
02/03/2011 19:15
A few years ago, only a very few had ventured to LB and the Crestones in winter. W/ this unusually dry winter, the Mama Bear/LB traverse, LB/Blanca traverse, ASCENT (descent had been done before) of Crestone Peaks North Couloir, and LB North Face (two years ago)have all fallen to members at And, thank you Chomolunga, not a single climber's injury. Maybe we're being given recompence for this summer's tragic losses. Its all very impressive to me, though I'm certain it's being ridiculed on the ”F*ing w/” thread on the self-annointed, invitation only site.

Congratulations to all.


Looks sooooo fun!
02/03/2011 20:27
I have wanted to do this for a long time. You had the best day of the year. Well done! So the crux was 5.2???

02/03/2011 20:39
I can't say if this would be different in the summer with less snow but the only way we could get down what I called the ”crux” or ”saturation point” I would say easily downclimbed as at least 5.6 and I would even be comfortable saying there were 5.7 moves. It looks like that could be bypassed in the summer to the climber's right keetping the climb at 5.2 or below.

02/04/2011 01:59
trip report fellas! I am sitting at my desk trying to muster the words to describe how amazed I am.....awesome pics!

02/04/2011 18:40
This report is a masterpiece, and looks like more fun than I think I could stand. Congratulations and be satisfied in the accomplishment by my seething jealousy. I was very happy to see what looked like a half-gone pint of whiskey in the provisions.

Nice job guys
02/04/2011 19:42
Nice report, great photos, and one huge accomplishment!
Congratulations guys!

NOW I can say AWESOME!!
02/05/2011 01:18
My son, you are an amazing man!! Congratulations on an incredible accomplishment! I know this is just the beginning. I'm always a little nervous, but also always very proud of what you take on, & of your amazing spirit! Fun to see you excel!!! Thanks for being Matt's right hand man & great friend Micah! Congrats to you as well on a great climb!

02/05/2011 06:26
Congrats to you guys. Most of us mortals have saturated pants just reading this trip report. You guys have more balls than a bowling alley.

Great read and excellent photos.

Thanks Mom
02/05/2011 07:18
That last post was from my mom, whom I love.
Thanks Mom! Love you, and you need to get your own account.

Absolutely stunning!
02/06/2011 02:35
Holy sh*t, you guys! Talk about uping the ante for winter climbs! That's an impossibly high bar y'all just set. Some MAD PROPS to both of you for this traverse and climb. And to be descending off Blanca before nightfall to boot!

This has to be without doubt, THE best report thus far for 2011.
Magnificent work, gentlemen!! 8)

So It's Official...
02/06/2011 02:51
I am not a real man.

02/06/2011 03:39
Holy Crap Micah and Matt! I'd say BAMF's is an understatement after this!!! Awesome work! Thanks for teaching me to climb!!!

Ridge runner
finally got to read this
02/06/2011 06:24
Wow, congratulations on completing such a hard and committing traverse in winter!

The Hardest Traverse In January!?!
02/06/2011 09:00
Amazing that you were able to conquer the most difficult traverse in Winter, I am humbled buy such prowess!

Mountain Woman
02/06/2011 16:05
You guys are our heroes.

Easy Rider
02/06/2011 18:19
That is an achievement to be proud of!

02/07/2011 14:56
Man, here I think I've done a lot in this last year and then you guys go off and do something like this and knock me down a few notches. I guess that just goes to prove that no matter how much I think I've grown and improved, there are a lot of folks out there with much more experience (and bigger balls!). You guys are truly an inspiration for me.

da Bear...
02/16/2011 04:38
Wow you guys! Just wow! Beautiful photos and well documented. What an amazing accomplishment and experience! My heart sunk on a couple of those photos just looking at them - man! Congrats! Cheers!

02/16/2011 21:31
Way to perservere. A nice accomplishment to have under your belt. Way to work!

A unique achievement!
05/02/2011 14:23
What a great adventure and an excellent recap Micah. Congrats to you both. Really enjoyed this TR.

Freaky sweet!
06/02/2011 14:57
Amazing job guys. What else can I say...???? I'm not worthy!!!!

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