Pika Pinnacle of the Little Bear Gulch Rocks as se...
July 9: The fire is 100% contained and the roads are open.
Little Bear Gulch is located in the west flank of the North Laramie Range about 30 air miles SW of Douglas, WY. The climbing season is Summer time only and is cool (see NOAA gridpoint forecast). The September weekends are not suited for climbing here as the Wyoming Archery Hunting Season for Elk opens Sept 1 and there are many hunters using the Wagon Hound Ranch "Foot Only" access to the public lands that are east of La Prele Creek. Based on a geologic map the rock is syenite, a close relative of granite but richer in alkalies than granite and this type of rock occurs as intrusions in this region. Most of the climbing is near dead vertical and although the photos give a notion of a crack climbing area the majority of moves are face climbing. A Gunks climber and guidebook author for that area commented that the rock here was just like the Gunks rock. Whether this comparison is accurate or not you can expect some thought provoking highly technical moves without the tel-tale beta of chalk but yet the protection of bolts near the cruxes.
In the main area, Bear Scat Rock, routes are at the most 90 feet high and the area has 23 routes. I do not yet have a photo of the newest route put up #23. Pika Pinnacle has three - 5 Star face routes that overhang ever so slighly and are 70 feet long. Cub Rock has two easy but steep face routes that beginners might find easy to hold onto with the big jugs.
The area is entirely sport climbing and bolted but I suppose some of these routes could be led on trad gear with long runners, little (tiny) gear and longer runouts. No bolts were placed in the cracks and as such they do not interfere with trad gear placement.
Camping: There are some four possible camping locations nearby to the parking lot of the Little Bear Gulch trail head.
1. The Campbell Creek Campground is 1.55 mile upstream on the Cold Springs Rd 24. $5 per vehicle pullout. A heavily forested shady campground with a persistent smell of burnt wood and sometimes all spots are sold out in summer.
2. Backpack to sec 22 and camp near or on Bear Scat Rock. There is a brook, Little Bear Gulch Creek adjacent to this rock.
3. Drive 1.5 miles north downstream on Cold Springs Rd 24 to the SE of the SE of section 10 and camp south of the Oriole Mine. Section 10 is adjacent and north of section 15 which is completely shown on the Map. This 40 acres is now Forest Service. The land is a tree bare bench west of and above La Prele Creek next to Rd 24. See Map--the white region just east of the numbers 7535.
4. Sec 16 and Sec 10 are now state owned. Drive about .5 mile downstream north to the Twin Peaks trail head parking lot and backpack in a short distance west towards Twin Peaks. Some state lands are qualified by being WY State Trust Land. The rules at these lands are such that you can be on it any time during the entire day but you cannot camp. Can you sleep standing up?
The two likely approaches are from Douglas or Medicine Bow, WY. At Douglas take Exit 140 and proceed southward on a frontage road along the east side of I-25 until it passes under I-25. From this multiple junction intersection on the SW side of Douglas where I-25 bridges cross a frontage road take state highway 94 south (Esterbrook Rd) ( this way avoids the circuitous turns of taking Rd 91 from here) south 0.9 mile to Converse County Rd 9 (aka Chalk Buttes Rd) turning right and traveling west for 4 miles and then making a left on highway 91 (Cold Springs Rd). After 25 miles of pavement (from Douglas) take a turn off to the right and continue on Cold Springs Rd Converse County 24 (gravel)and go for about 13 miles. Drive to the Campbell Creek Campground (Forest Service) and then drive back on Rd 24 some 1.55 miles to an ad hoc turnout road? on the right (east) side of La Prele canyon GPS 42.47630 N, -105.82479 W which is just south of Woodchopper Creek.
To get to the trail head from Medicine Bow requires more patience and navigation skills to do the 35 miles of gravel through Shirley Basin. Take State 487 17.5 miles north of Med Bow turning right on Carbon County Rd. 99, Little Medicine Rd. At 12 miles out take a right at Junction with Carbon County Rd 2 and a right again at 13.8 miles out with Carbon County Rd 97. At 14.8 miles out the Little Medicine Rd gets the Albany County road # of Rd 62. At 16.0 miles out go straight through at the 4 way junction with the Holiday Rd 69. At 21.7 mile and just past the Spinrath Ranch turnoff take a left and avoid going to the rock quarry. At 30 miles the road changes name and number to become the Cold Springs Rd Converse County 24. About four miles further is the Campbell Creek Campground on your right and just 1.55 mile further on the right is the approach trail head parking.
The state of Wyoming has acquired lands along La Prele Creek that now permit public access to Little Bear Creek from its confluence with La Prele Creek. In particular the west half of Sec. 15 and NW 1/4 of the NW quarter of Sec 22 (see map photo) make for a quite reasonable hike to these rocks as opposed the additional effort of getting permission to the cross the Wagon Hound Ranch lands.
The Hike 0.5 miles: Park south of, but yet near to Woodchopper Creek along the Cold Springs Rd on Sec 15. and proceed on foot SE to find the confluence of Little Bear Creek with La Prele Creek. From the south side of Little Bear Creek hike up the slope to Pika Pinnacle. From a saddle just SW of Pika Pinnacle you can see Bear Scat Rock to the SE and a trail to it contours the slope from here beginning northward and curving eastward.
I just returned home from working this fire (Russells Camp Fire - about 4000 acres). To the best of my knowledge, the fire had not, and still has not burned into the Little Bear area. However, I can not say this with 100% confidence, but I am pretty sure. When I left on 6/21 the fire was fairly contained and a little fire spread was continuing in the opposite direction.
A buddy and I went here over last Memorial Day weekend. It was fairly cold, like in the 30's and 40's and normal wind conditions for Southeast Wyoming. We camped near the base of Bear Scat rock and had routes to climb until we were spent. It was a great trip with good routes and no other people around. Finding the rock took some time as there was no fully established trail developed, just florescent tags around the trees marking the projected trail near the rock.
The routes can use some traffic, as I pulled off some holds. Mostly good rock with well placed bolts; they have a feel of ground up bolting. We used the topos and routes list posted along with the pictures.
I dont know if this place got burnt up this last summer, just thankful I got to witness before.