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Routes in Bear Creek Spire

East Arete T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
North Arete T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Northeast Ridge T Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Type: Trad, Alpine, 22 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Sheari Taylor and John Vawter, 1977
Page Views: 4,561 total, 50/month
Shared By: fossana on May 5, 2010
Admins: Chris Owen, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Description

History
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.

Route Details
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.

Location

Approach
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

Descent
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.

Protection

- alpine rack
- 50m or 60m single rope

note: no fixed gear or anchors (a few rap slings of varying age)

Photos

Preston Rhea
Mammoth Lakes
 
Preston Rhea   Mammoth Lakes
 
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. Oct 25, 2013
fossana
leeds, ut
 
fossana   leeds, ut
 
Thanks, Chris and J! Jun 29, 2012
J. Albers
Colorado
J. Albers   Colorado
Nice job with this route page, great addition to MP. Thanks. Jun 22, 2012
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Thanks Michelle and congrats on soloing this route - a very impressive achievement. Jun 21, 2012