Little Bear lies a mile southwest of Blanca and has a reputation as one of Colorado's most difficult fourteeners. People may therefore be surprised to learn that Little Bear was first climbed in 1888, before Blanca!
The fact of the matter is that there is an easy (meaning 3rd class) route on Little Bear, however the start of this route is on private land and therefore closed (the most obvious start, anyway). Little Bear is therefore almost always climbed from the popular Lake Como access road, and this standard route is one of the most difficult and dangerous of any fourteener.
The Lake Como Road is the usual access point. This road begins in the flat San Luis Valley. 2WD cars are quickly stopped by the vicious "babyheads" at a large parking area at only 8,000'. This is one of the lowest fourteener trailheads in Colorado. 4WD vehicles attack the road with varying success, it soon becomes very steep and narrow but every quarter mile saves you significant hiking. The 10,000' level weeds out all but the most hard core 4WD, which are now creeping along at about the same speed as hikers. This is one of the most famous 4WD roads in the state, and only jeeps and other highly modified vehicles can make it all the way to Lake Como (11,740').
A quarter mile past Lake Como a cairn marks a path south up a steep rocky couloir to the ridge crest. This couloir is rather unpleasant and loose and ends at a saddle at 12,580'. From here, either head up the ridge (east) or cross the saddle and immediately turn east, contouring across the south face, following a cairned traverse.The first option puts you on top of pt. 12,980'. Drop down to the next saddle and then pick up a cairned route which traverses across and up the south and then south...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Watch out, the hourglass is dangerous. Really make sure there is nobody down climbing before you start to approach the bottom section. (climbing it on a weekday would be a good idea) I almost got hit by a softball-sized rock when some other dude was descending. It is a really fun scramble when the coast is clear.
At the end of one trip we hiked down the Lake Como Road and passed some gnarly, highly modified jeeps grappling with the boulderfields just below the lake. They were also headed down but very slowly. There are several places along this road where I don't understand how ANY vehicle can pass. A few times I have been tempted to wait just to see how they do it.
Anyway, to make a long story short, turns out we beat these vehicles to our car, which was parked fairly low down. In other words, it is faster to walk this road than drive it, at least going down!