Bear Creek Spire, NE Buttress

15 Aug 1998 - by Ron Karpel

"I feel so fulfilled, that climbing another mountain tomorrow can only detract from this weekend's sense of achievement." That is how Arun express his satisfaction from climbing Bear Creek Spire. He was not alone. Indeed, we all felt quit satisfied in our achievement on this terrific mountain.

We left the trailhead at Mosquito Flat at 8 AM that morning, setup camp at Treasure Lakes, and continued around Dade Lake to the saddle between BCS and the peaklet on its northeast. This point is literally the beginning of the Northeast Buttress. By now, dark clouds gathered around us and it seems as it was raining in several places. But we were in the dry, so we decided to go ahead in spite of the weather. The Buttress itself is an enjoyable class-3 climb, and despite its look, the rock was solid for the most part.

At it's upper end, the buttress abuts the east face of BCS, and here the climb turns to class-4. A couple of pitches got us to the summit ridge. The ridge started with a delicate move, but quickly eased to class-3. The exposure on the ridge remained high until we descended a bit on the west side and merged with the standard northwest route. One could get here from Cox Col by climbing the northwest slope. Once on the ridge we were surprised to see the extend of the storm brewing around us. There were dark clouds everywhere. It looks like it was raining in several places, and we felt a drop or two ourselves. Dade and Abbott to the North were in the clouds, but we were still in the dry, so we press on.

From this point to the summit was another pitch of class-4 a short traverse and then we stood in front of the final summit bolder. The summit bolder looks like an oversized refrigerator tilted on its side. The up most part is really one of the corners. Sitting on top with legs on either side feels like riding a humongous camel. And the ferocious wind made it feel as if the camel is swaying trying to kick you off. Jim hanging on protections to one side belayed the rest of us one at a time to the top, and back down again. Jim and Bob free climbed the entire route, while the rest of us used belay as we felt needed. I was on belay almost the entire time it was offered.

The register is on the ridge below the summit bolder were there was barely enough room for the 8 of us. The storm was still brewing around us, and it was getting late, so we quickly returned to the rappel point and came down the west face. Then we descended the northwest slope to the top of Cox Col. From the top of Cox Col to the snow field below was a short section of loose class-3. And then partly glissading partly heal stamping, we made it down the snow slope back to our camp by Treasure Lakes. It was now 8:30 PM, almost completely dark, but the sky was clearing up. The storm had pass, and we were still dry.

We got up late on Sunday, people were still tired from the long climb of the day before. The prospect of climbing the loose rock on Abbott did not look very attractive to anybody. So we took our time packing and hiking out, and headed home.

Participants: Bob Suzuki (leader), Nancy Fitzsimmons (co-leader), Arun Mahajan, Dot Reilly, Jim Curl, Linda Smith, Sam Wilkie, Ron Karpel (scribe).

Special thanks to Jim Curl and Bob Suzuki who expertly and patiently belayed the rest of us to the summit.

Alternate route:

It seems to me, and we had a confirmation from a guy we met on the trail, that it is possible to avoid the ridge traverse. From the point on the buttress where it meets the face and become class-4, traverse to the left on many obvious ledges (looks like class-2 from the top). Then once below the summit, climb directly up 2 class-4 pitches to the summit area. Secor calls this the Northeast Face Route.


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