Little Bear Peak, Colorado

August 2021

Little Bear Peak
14,037 Feet

Little Bear Peak is one of the most notorious mountains in Colorado.  It's dangerous reputation is from a a section of the route called "The Hourglass Couloir" which is known for it's steepness and extreme rockfall.  The standard Class 4 route is via the west ridge, then the south face through the Hourglass.  Little Bear is one of the top three most dangerous 14ers in Colorado and should not be taken lightly.  This mountain should only be attempted by experienced 14er climbers comfortable with exposed terrain and familiar with rock fall challenges.  After many years of climbing less-challenging peaks, it was time to give Little Bear a try.  Join Alan and climbing partner, Cheyenne, as they tackle one of Colorado's most challenging peaks.

The road/trail to Little Bear begins with the Como Lake road.  This road equals the mountain in that it is considered THE most difficult 4WD roads in Colorado

This road is no joke and there are plaques on the road memorializing people who have died attempting it.  The Jeep made it within two miles of Como Lake without incident.

After driving as far as I dared, a 2-mile backpack is required to get to the lake at the base of the mountain.

Closer to the lake, we get our first views of Little Bear Peak.

Cheyenne is happy to finally make it to the lake.  Little Bear looms above.

Great camping spots can be found on the south and east sides of Como Lake.

Just beyond the lake, there are great views of two other 14ers: Ellingwood Point and Blanca Peak.

Our first obstacle on the climb is this 800 ft ascent gully composed of loose rock and scree.  Definitely not fun.

Cheyenne near the top of the ascent gully just before starting the west ridge.  Como Lake below.

Alan begins the ridge run as the sun is coming up.

The ridge run was the most enjoyable part of the route.

Cheyenne nears the end of the ridge just before the start of the Hourglass Couloir.

Cheyenne contemplates the Hourglass, looking straight up.  The Hourglass narrows significantly so that all rockfall is funnelled directly into anyone in the couloir.

Alan looks up at the Hourglass listening for rockfall before committing.

Cheyenne making the Hourglass Couloir look easy.  A tattered rope is in the couloir but it is not advised to use it.

After the Hourglass is only a short scramble to the summit.  We had perfect conditions that day!

On the descent, we had to wait patiently while another party ascended the Hourglass, thus avoiding dislodging rocks down on them during their climb.

This is a view of Little Bear Peak from Fort Garland.  Little Bear is in the Sangre De Cristo range in extreme southern Colorado.

If you've got the experience and skills, Little Bear Peak is definitely a wonderful climb.  Pick a day during the week to avoid other parties in the Hourglass and pick a day late in the season when the Hourglass is dry. Thanks to Cheyenne for the partnership and for the use of her photos!

© Ellis Adventures, LLC