Little Bear Peak
|Little Bear Peak|
Little Bear Peak from the Southwest Ridge
|Elevation||14,043 ft (4,280 m) NAVD 88|
|Prominence||357 ft (109 m)|
|Location||Alamosa / Costilla counties, Colorado, U.S.|
|Range||Sangre de Cristo Range|
|Topo map||USGS Blanca Peak|
|Easiest route||exposed scramble (Class 4)|
Little Bear Peak, or simply Little Bear, is one of the fourteeners of the US state of Colorado. It lies at the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Range, which is the northern section of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Little Bear is just southwest of Blanca Peak, one of the highest and most topographically prominent of the Colorado fourteeners. Like the rest of the Blanca Massif, Little Bear is composed of pre-Cambrian granite estimated to be approximately 1.8 billion years old. Along with nearby Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point Little Bear rises nearly 7,000 feet above the San Luis Valley to the west and south. The peak sits atop a long ridge separating two glacier-carved valleys.
While Little Bear itself has little more than the minimum 300 feet of prominence to qualify as a separate peak, it is notable for being one of the most technically difficult and dangerous of the fourteeners to climb. The upper part of the standard route leads through a 300' section known as the Hourglass: an almost vertical stretch of water-polished granite famous for the amount of rockfall. There is another extremely technical route that climbs the northwest face of Little Bear from above the Blue Lakes and gains over 6,200 ft in elevation. The easiest climbing routes on the mountain are on the eastern side, rising out of the private property in Blanca Basin.
The connecting ridge to Blanca Peak is one of the most challenging outings of its type in the state. Experts say the traverse is easier going from Little Bear to Blanca but once a climber commits to the traverse, he's committed to the end. There are only a couple places down off the rock that are reasonably safe and they drop into Blanca Basin.