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 ADVANCED
Little Bear Peak
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Northwest Face T 
West Ridge and Hourglass Couloir T 
West Ridge Direct T 

Northwest Face 

YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c Mod. Snow

   
Type:  Trad, Snow, Alpine, 2 pitches, 2000', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 4th French: 1 Ewbanks: 2 UIAA: I ZA: 2 British: M 1b [details]
FA: 
Season: Usually April-September
Page Views: 1,770
Submitted By: Theo Barker on Sep 10, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (15)
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BETA PHOTO: NW Face of Little Bear from Lake Como. Black Hand...

Description 

Wear a helmet!

This climb is a less-traveled alternative to the Hourglass Couloir route on Little Bear that ascends the impressive northwest face of Little Bear. It connects with the Little Bear-Blanca ridge near the summit of Little Bear. Most of the work is picking your way through the 3rd class talus and scree at a fairly high angle. Two points on the route _may_ require the use of pro: gaining the "shelf" above the "Black Hand" on the rock, gaining the ridge close to the summit. People have reported being able to pass the "black hand" to climbers right while keeping it 4th class.

Once you've passed the "Black Hand", follow the steep 3rd class gullies up to a more level area. Head up and right to a weakness in the ridge. You may want to simul-climb to the top of the ridge, continuing to the summit.

Arguably safer when snow-covered, since it likes to shed rock, particularly in rain storms.


Location 

Follow the road above Lake Como until it gets close to the talus fields. You'll see the "Black Hand" feature as you ascend the road. Once past the "Black Hand" on the road, follow the talus high point back to the base of the Black Hand.


Protection 

Sparse alpine rack, when you can find decent rock to place it. Arguably, only needed for one or two pitches. Did I mention a helmet?



Photos of Northwest Face Slideshow Add Photo
Lucas Clarke feeling the exposure near the top of the final headwall.  Approx. 100 ft below the ridge.
Lucas Clarke feeling the exposure near the top of ...
Ascending the summit ridge just after toping out on the NW Face.  Doubly exposed and awesome.
Ascending the summit ridge just after toping out o...
I took this photo of Little Bear's ridgeline after soloing the NW face. It was pretty loose.
I took this photo of Little Bear's ridgeline after...
Comments on Northwest Face Add Comment
Show which comments
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 28, 2008

I've scoped out this route and there are several places one could start. Is the black hand visible in this Photo?

One problem I've noticed is that snow or hail lingers on this face, and it's not clear how much harder this will make it.

By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jun 15, 2009
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Mod. Snow

I really dig this route and have been up it three times. George Bell, the Black Hand is visible in that photo you reference in your comment but it's hard to make out from that angle. It's just down and right of the center of the photo coming out of the "shadowed" area. I've always stayed right of the black hand and then moved back left above the black hand and into the "rock basin" above, then straight up to the ridge. It might be very low fifth class that way but mostly loose fourth class.

By Tim Judkins
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 29, 2009

Fantastic route! Climbed it in August 2009 when almost completely dry. Despite this being the "less crowded" route, there were no less than 7 climbers near the start when I got there. It's loose, so wear a helmet and be the first one on the route. Rope/gear are unnecessary on this route when it's dry. I found it low 5th class about 60' up for a short stretch, with no good options for pro. The rest was great 4th class. You may be able to keep it all 4th class, but this would require a lot of meandering.

By Barry Collins
Sep 15, 2012

Onsight solo on 9/9/12. Left bivi at base of talus below the Black Hand at 7:30, arrived at LB summit at 9:40. A bit sketchy going up just right of the BH, then angled right chasing good holds, cut right again to the 3rd class "gully", then cruised it up to the ridge on ever improving rock. I thoroughly enjoyed this route and would recommend it, I had the face to myself. No moves harder than 4th class. It's in the shade until you top out on the ridge.