|Bear Creek Spire
It is possible that an indirect ascent was first made in the 1920s by Norman Clyde, Hervey Voge and David Brower, but according to Secor, the first known direct ascent was on Aug 23, 1977 by Sheari Taylor and John Vawter.
Overview and Editorial Commentary
The route is asthetic, long, and climbed infrequently. On my first attempt I found the rock to be more grainy and crumbly than the rock that is found on more popular BCS routes like the N and NE Aretes. Our nerves were rattled after having soloed half the ridge, so we rapped off early (trip report here). Four years later I returned to complete the route alone.
Gain the ridge at one of the notches between Peppermint Peak and BCS. There are several from which to choose of varying rock quality and difficulty. Depending on your downclimbing ability and preferences you may rap some of the notches. None of the downclimbs felt harder than ~5.5. There are many ways to go, but overall the routefinding was not difficult.
Climb the narrow arete to the top of a prominent square tower (5.8). Pass a number of gendarmes on mostly class 4 rock. Above another small notch climb a steep headwall (5.8). Secor grades this section as A0. Having stared at this section I wouldn't completely disagree. It is also possible to climb the face on the right side of the tower. The rest of the ridge is picket fence type climbing. Expect a few class 5 moves but it is mostly 4th. Follow it to the summit boulder.
From Mosquito Flat trailhead take the Morgan Pass Trail at the Mono Pass junction. After Long Lake several options exist:
1) Head S x SW on the slabs E of Treasure Lakes, aiming directly for Dade Lake or
2a) Continue on Morgan Pass Trail. At ~0.25 miles from the pass take the right-hand trail toward Gem Lakes. Go right and skirt the edge of the lake and the headwall to the reach easier terrain. Hike up the slabs and talus to reach Dade Lake.
2b) My favored approach. Continue on Morgan Pass Trail. At ~0.25 miles from the pass take the right-hand trail toward Gem Lakes. Head up the talus slopes on the left edge of lake and headwall. Staying in the gullies keeps the grade modest.
Skirt the eastern shores of Dade Lake heading for the long ridge between Bear Creek Spire and Peppermint Peak. You'll pass below the start of the NE Ridge, which is a possible descent option.
Aim for a notch between BCS and Peppermint Peak. Note that there are varying options for gaining the ridge, varying in rock quality. Choose wisely.
Distance: ~6.5 miles (with ~half of it off-trail)
Estimated approach time: 2.5 to 4 hours
From the summit head back north along the ridge for less than a hundred feet, then drop down to the west for another hundred feet (class 4). Head SW down sandy slopes. Alternatively, take the NE Ridge to the base (mostly class 3-4 although you main encounter a low class 5 move or two). Aim for Dade Lake then reverse your approach to the trailhead.
- alpine rack
- 50m or 60m single rope
note: no fixed gear or anchors (a few rap slings of varying age)
notch at the top of the chimney
BETA PHOTO: N, NE and E Aretes
looking back on the route
BETA PHOTO: I aimed for the ramp system high and center.
BETA PHOTO: Notch where we gained the ridge on attempt 1 (easi...
BETA PHOTO: crux headwall
BETA PHOTO: Scary, dirty, loose chimney I stupidly ascended. S...
looking toward Dade from the summit
Starting up the (not recommended) chimney (photo b...
Climbing out of the first notch (photo by Jascha)
one of the many spires
On the ridge proper
The exposure starts
one of the final towers
Jascha heading up the ramp on the other side of th...
descent via the NE Ridge (Dade, Treasure and Gem L...
The real exposure starts.
BETA PHOTO: the route
Scary slab moves on knobs (one of which broke off ...
south side of the arete
Icy section (early Sep)
BETA PHOTO: Back onto the ridge
looking down the ramp
one of the talusy sections
Gaining the ridge just before we bailed.
I traversed around this tower as the rock didn't l...
ice on Long Lake
progress so far
Spire Lake and Peppermint Peak
starting the picket fence
first portion of the E Arete
Sierra "class 4"
second portion of the E Arete
the route starts near where the dark and light roc...
looking down the route from the summit
BETA PHOTO: better starting option (from attempt 2)
E Arete from the NE Ridge
|By Chris Owen|
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jun 21, 2012
Thanks Michelle and congrats on soloing this route - a very impressive achievement.
|By J. Albers|
Jun 22, 2012
Nice job with this route page, great addition to MP. Thanks.
From: Bishop, CA
Jun 29, 2012
Thanks, Chris and J!
|By Preston Rhea|
From: Mammoth Lakes
Oct 25, 2013
Soloed this climb with a partner. We intended on roping up when the climbing got hard, but it never did. We avoided most difficulties to climber's right and never found the climbing harder than 5.6-5.7ish. Great long climb and a refreshing break from the line that can be the North Arete.