Route: Southwest Face/Hourglass Couloir
Team: Ted, Sean Shean
Independence Pass was closed, so Sean and I drove the long way down to the Como Lake Road. I managed to drive the truck up higher than ever, all the way to the small downhill section of the road, by the abandoned cabins, where we set up a car camp and got ready.
We were up early because we still had a few miles to go on foot, we opted for hiking boots on the dry, loose road. We switched to ski boots when we hit snow, at Como Lake, and it was good and frozen, like we wanted it. Higher up on the route we’d be happy to have any potential loose rock frozen to the mountainside as much as possible. The hourglass pinch on the route can be extremely dangerous for rockfall.
Cramponing above the lake we reached the ridge and switched footwear once again. The next long stretch of the route is a sidehill of talus, devoid of snow. In ski boots it can be clumsy, time consuming and dangerous. We took five minutes and switched back to trail shoes, saving (in our opinion) 10 times that much time, effort, and frustration as opposed to remaining in our ski boots. A short while later we were back at the snow and switched again.
Our timing was good, for the day and the season. We were early enough that we saw no serious rockfall and the snow would be safe to ski, and we weren’t too late in the spring that the line no longer went continuously off the summit. It started right at the summit register. Perfect.
Seeing a host of familiar names in the log— Dav’s group from early on in winter and Frank and Jordan from earlier that month, kind of made it seem like its a small world. Sean and I hung out for a while. Little Bear is a tough one for many, even when dry. We felt privileged to get this one so smoothly, apart from some truck body damage occurring on the way out. Damn that road.
I was psyched to have skied #50. Next I needed to take care of some loose ends, it was time for a redo of Wilson Peak.