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A fine alpine rock climb with a wonderful prospect over Little Lakes Valley.
P1 5.6. Snowline dependent, cracks in slabs to a ledge where it gets steeper.
P2 5.8. Steep flake crack on the left to a ledge.
P3 5.7. Up and right over flakes to where the arete relents a little. Route-finding can be tricky.
P4/5 Easy 5th. Up the crest of the arete in a wonderful position to a ledge below the final impasse, a steep off-width crack.
P6 5.8 crux. The crack awkwardly.
P7 Easy 5th. Tunnel through to the other side of the ridge.
To finish, join with the Northeast Ridge and follow it to the top, or it might be more in keeping with the rest of the route to doggedly stay on the very crest of the ridge/arete to the summit. Either will deposit you on the crest of the summit ridge and just excellent and scenic scrambling/climbing for a pitch or two.
Don't forget to mantle onto the summit block!
From Dade Lake hike across benches and then snow up to just right of the lowest point of the buttress.
Descend down Class 4 rocks on the East side to sand, follow left of the north ridge then cut over it eastwards and down snow/scree and steps back to Dade Lake.
Standard alpine rack. Ice axe and crampons seasonal.
John Fujii at the top of pitch 1.
Tony Tennessee leading off on pitch 1.
John and Tony on pitch 2.
John negotiates a gendarme.
The North Arete of Bear Creek Spire viewed from th...
Meghan approaching the top of pitch 2.
Meghan at the notch.
The final 4th class pitches to the summit. Note th...
The summit block.
BETA PHOTO: The North ArÍte follows the left skyline.
DVS leading the start of the crux pitch. The off-w...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at a party on the crux pitch (.10b vari...
The spectacular Bear Creek Spire
Eric Collins following one of the lower pitches, c...
N Arete, viewed from the descent (looking SE)
The N Arete lit from the west.
Climbers on the N Arete as seen from the NE Ridge.
Dave Burda and Lisa Pritchett on the North Arete o...
BCS from the Gem Lake approach trending left up th...
final snow field
P1 per Mt Project
Jascha following up the first pitch
BETA PHOTO: P2 per Mt Project (P1 per Supertopo)
Looking to the E
Little Lakes Valley
BETA PHOTO: The 5.9(?) variation off the P3 belay (P2 per Supe...
Jascha approaching the P3 (P2 in Supertopo) belay
Jascha approaching the P5 belay (P4 on Supertopo)
BETA PHOTO: Michelle on the 5.10 dihedral variation on P6 (P5 ...
Jascha about to top out on P6 (P5 on Supertopo)
Stormy skies over BCS and Dade. Time for us to ba...
Descending the NE Ridge to escape the storms.
Summit of BCS
Me leading fifth pitch (5.8). Photo by Justin Mar...
jim following after 5.8 crux section
Adam on the approach
Adam soloing P1
thumbs up so far on the route
view toward Dade
navigating the upper ridge
almost to the summit block
view down the E Arete
view toward Dade
Mar 5, 2007
P2...I've always done the thin crack (10a?) to the right of the gash/chimney. Obliviates the need to drag a pack through the wide business.
The ridge is pretty long and complicated if you are not fast, factor that in timewise.
|By Isaac T.|
From: Rockville, MD
Jul 19, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c
The off width pitch is a little loose but I found it to be a lot harder then 5.8 probably more like 5.10. Climbing that pitch with a pack is definitely not fun, next time I would either haul it or not climb with ice axes.
|By Dan Popa|
Aug 8, 2007
Not nearly as hard as some would have you believe. No problems route finding using the Supertopo guide. Our pitch break-down was a little different than that listed above since we simuled all but 3 pitches which were no harder than 5.7. Crux pitch consists of "5.8" flakes that we just stemmed and reached through with a loose gulley above that goes at a reasonable 5.6 in the Supertopo. 2/3 of us had packs and had no trouble navigating through this section. Pro everywhere you want it throughout the climb: w/ 10cams, 1 set of nuts, and slings we were doing simul pitches over 250ft no problem. Ample belay stations. Climb can best be characterized by easy 5th class/4th class moves with some moderate 5 moves in between. Summit is spectacular with an unprotectable but not difficult top-out. Not the greatest pure climbing route but extremely fun nonetheless. A classic because of the line it takes.
From: Sacramento, CA
Aug 20, 2007
Great route. I agree with the previous poster that the route is mostly easy-moderate 5th class with a few short, well-protected sections up to 5.8. The "5.8 offwidth" (~pitch 6) was mellow and certainly not an offwidth. Vdub: maybe you were off route?
|By Tyler Logan|
From: Bishop, CA
Aug 22, 2007
Hey veedublvr, you and I were indeed off-route--and so were the two parties above us! It seems we should have dodged the headwall by going left. Nice lead anyway!
|By Michael Ybarra|
From: on the road
Jun 3, 2008
Ice axes? I'm not sure what those would have been used for. I'm not a great climber, but I managed to do this route in a couple of hours in approach shoes wearing a small day pack. I agree with stemming past the supposed OW crux. I thought it was very fun and pretty cruiser if you're not at your limit.
|By Chris Owen|
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jul 19, 2009
Michael, that's why I added "seasonal" to the ice-axe statement.
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 25, 2010
We climbed a 5.9? variation right off the P3 belay (P2 per Supertopo), which went straight up instead of right then up the flake system. See photo here.
Also did a 5.10 dihedral variation on P6 (P5 on Supertopo) that goes up the front of the tower instead of behind it. Note that it tops out higher than depicted in the Supertopo diagram, near the top of the 5.6 chimney.
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 1, 2010
We also climbed a 5.9 variation on pitch 2 (using Supertopo pitch breakdown, although not the 5.9 fingers variation they show---more like a 4"-to-hands variation). All the giant flakes look steep from the belay, so it was really hard to figure out which was the 5.7. Thereupon immediately I launched into a somewhat gritty dihedral with crappy feet but secure arm bars and eventual slammer hands. Quite sustained which = effortful at 13K feet elevation.
I felt great until we hit the long talus descent; at that point, to get all the way back out felt burly, endless, and really taxing.
Otherwise, this is purely and simply an amazing summit.
From: Atascadero, CA
Sep 8, 2011
This description says it's six pitches (then describes how it joins with the Northeast Ridge).
That is somewhat misleading, if you believe it is only six pitches. It will take 10 or 11 pitches to get to the top (if you're pitching it out, which we did), where the descent begins. A fairly long day.
Excellent rock and climbing.
|By Chris Owen|
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jun 22, 2012
No, it says 7 pitches - plus after joining the the NW Ridge you'll have to negotiate the upper part of that route too.
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 6, 2012
Great route. Not sustained. Seemed soft for 5.8. I found pitch 6 to be fine with a pack on. It's great chimneying with perfect jams. What more could you want? Not sure why the common way is to bail off the ridge early. Just stick to it for mostly 4th/easy 5th on good rock. I found maybe 2 15ft 5.8 sections and it climbs directly to the summit. Seems like the obvious choice for the line!
From: Durango, CO
Jul 24, 2012
The description on here does in fact say it is 6 pitches (then mentions a 7th, which was the 6th we did). I pitched out the whole route and it ended up being 12 to the summit. Could have done it in 11. Pretty fun climb. Long day.
|By Richard Shore|
Aug 27, 2012
During a thunderstorm on Saturday August 18 (I believe), a massive rockfall occured in the gully just to the right of the North ArÍte. Many 1,000's of tons of rock were spit out, including boulders up to 15' in diameter. Some of these nearly jumped over the moraine! Fresh rock flour was everywhere, and during our climb on the 19th, pebble-to-bowling ball size chunks were continuously raining down the gully. Climbers should take caution while approaching/hanging out at the base of the North ArÍte, as the debris flow passes within feet of the start of the route. On a positive note, no crampons or axe are needed as the snow field is now covered with (loose) rock.
From: Newport Beach
Sep 9, 2013
Just climbed this with Rico. P2 was the crux & highlight. A lot of terrain felt 3rd class and was fun simul-climbing. We led pitches 1,2 & 5.