Jeff and I had to hike back up the Como Lake Road for the second day in a row. We had originally planned to hike Ellingwood Point, Blanca Peak, and Little Bear Peak the previous day, but the weather prevented us from climbing Little Bear Peak. We had other plans for today, but with only one 14er left, we had to stick around and finish them for Jeff.
We got up at 3:00 again and the hike to Como Lake went slightly faster than the previous day. The weather looked much better, so we decided to go up the northwest face of Little Bear Peak. A few parties were already heading up the standard west ridge route. The first time up this route started with more difficult climbing than expected, so I knew we needed to start slightly farther right which we did. The climbing was steep with a few class 4 sections, but it was fun and we gained vertical quickly. We traversed into the main shallow gully of the northwest face and the rock was more loose than I remembered. We continued up the face and the climbing became class 4 again as we approached the ridge.
It only took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to top out on Little Bear Peak from the basin below. Jeff had completed the 14ers, but the celebration was limited because we were descending the Hourglass on the west ridge route. There were a couple of other people on the summit that we talked to for a while before heading down. Unfortunately, the other parties were far enough ahead of us that we didn't follow them down and ended up at the winter rappel station. Because of this, we had to re-climb a couple hundred feet to get back on the summer route further to the right.
This was my third ascent of Little Bear Peak; however, I had never been on the west ridge route when it was melted out. I did the Hourglass Couloir as a snow climb in 2004 and went up the northwest face to the Little Bear/Blanca traverse in 2006, but I had never climbed or descended the Hourglass without snow. After coming down the Hourglass and getting off route in some extremely loose rock, I now remember why I avoided this area. It was definitely sketchy down-climbing this route after not climbing it, having substantial loose rock all around, and also having climbers above and below us.
We made it down the Hourglass and traversed over to the west ridge proper where I shed a layer and we could relax and celebrate Jeff's completion of the 14ers. We hiked back down to Lake Como and our camp before packing up and driving back to Denver, Colorado. After a quick shower, Jeff and his family arrived at my house to celebrate Jeff completing the 14ers and my birthday.