The trusty Xterra got us up the gnarly Lake Como road 4.8 miles from the paved road to the 10,000 foot level. It was a beautiful afternoon.
I felt a bit bad about the relative small size and light weight of my pack compared to Daniel's but hey, he's young he needs the exercise.
Room with a view
Surprisingly Daniel was able to balance across these logs despite the size and weight of his pack.
The view of Little Bear from Lake Como at 11,800'. The NW face route goes up the snowy “bowl” left of center. It would be an interesting and probably scary snow climb right now. We opted for the standard route.
A beautiful location marred only by the hoards of jeepers and ATVers that drive up here in the summer. We even witnessed a few ATVers driving off the road through marshy, fragile grasses along the edge of the lake. The ignorace is disgusting.
Our home for the night. We did not utilize the campfire ring that is less than 100 yards from the lake. Pathetic.
After setting up camp we had time to burn (it took us 90 minutes to hike from the car to camp) so we explored some of the bouldering around the basin. Daniel on the FA of the sit-start “Como Estas” :-)
A view of the approach gully to the standard west face route's gully. Steps in place for us already. What treatment!
Another classic problem in the valley
Despite the nice “crash pad”, this problem did not go. Perhaps a bit too visionary for its time?
Scoping out the approach gully before we head up it the next day
14ers Ellingwood Point, Blanca Peak and Little Bear Peak can all be seen in this panorama
After bouldering we took a nap and then chilled out. There were only two others in the basin that evening.
Yum! Dehydrated chicken breasts and mashed potatoes for dinner.
After dinner we walked to the west side of the lake in hopes of killer sunset shots. As evidenced here, we were not disappointed.
Getting better...darker clouds in the background, warmer sunlight coming through from the west.
The light got better and better and the wind calmed about making for a decent reflection
And as quickly as the great light was there, it was gone...
5:42 am Saturday. Neither of us slept very well for some reason yet neither of us heard my watch alarm. We're not that late, though.
Bright waning moon
Coming up the initial approach gully. Decent steps in situ allowed us to leave the crampons in the pack for this gully.
On the SW Ridge at the top of the gully. From here we cruised the ridge for a bit before moving into the famed hourglass couloir on the SW face.
Upside down goggles are all the rage with the kids these days
On the SW ridge heading towards the SW face
The SLC dudes left camp over an hour before we did. Here they head into the SW face's hourglass couloir.
A view of LB's SW face. The two SLC climbers can been seen almost in the center of the photo just below the hourglass couloir.
Traversing the slope from the SW ridge to the start of the hourglass couloir
Ah, yes, we found perfect snow conditions in the hourglass couloir turning what is normally a scary, loose rock and slab affair into a fun and efficient snow climb.
Through the skinny section of the hourglass and into the upper bowl
Perfect steps up as the SLC guys descend
Looking at the connecting ridge from LB to Blanca. From here we'd do this traverse to the summit of Blanca Peak.
Little Bear summit shot, 14,037', 6/13/09, 8:41am. It took us just shy of three hours from camp to LB's summit. This was my fourth time on Little Bear. (And no, that is not a cotton shirt I'm wearing, gosh!)
Daniel tops out on LB and eyes the traverse over to Blanca Peak
Daniel on the summit of Little Bear ("considering his future" as Gerry Roach would say)
The Crestone group looked pretty bitchin'
Kit Carson, Columbia Point, Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle all a bit more snowy than usual in mid-June
The first part of the traverse includes a dicey, exposed downclimb from Little Bear. Due to snow on the ridge's northwest side, we were forced to stay on the ridgecrest more than usual (some difficulties are normally passed on the northwest side of the ridge just below the ridgecrest) making for some more difficult moves. We started the traverse at 9:15am.
View down the NW face. I've climbed this face three times and have never seen this much snow on it.
A little à cheval action!
The exposure on this mile-long ridge is intense requiring solid focus the whole time. It's physically demanding but also quite mentally taxing.
A good number of “bumps” along the ridge forcing downclimbing on the backside.
Passing through a notch a bit further than halfway through the traverse.
Snow on the ridge in a few places made the going a bit slow and demanding extra attention.
At 2/3rds the way across it is necessary to bypass a large gendarme on the ridge's southwest side. Normally this is ugly loose scree but it was a pleasant snow field this time.
This is the section I refer to as the “exposure crux”. It's solid, flat ridge but super exposed and overhanging on the northwest side.
Finally some cruising on the final stretch to the summit of Blanca Peak
Blanca Peak, 14,345', 6/13/09, 1:06pm. This was my sixth time on Blanca Peak. It was my fourth time across the traverse.
Daniel on the summit of Blanca with 14er Mount Lindsey in the background. Note the goggles are right-side up. It took us just shy of 4 hours to negotiate the traverse.
A bit of nasty weather rolled in as we began to descend Blanca Peak.
Fun and fast glissading on the descent from Blanca
After getting back to camp that afternoon we hiked out and drove down to Tres Piedras to meet up with friends to climb there on Sunday. A nice way to end the weekend compared to how someone once ended their weekend on the Lake Como road.