Bear Creek Spire

9 Aug 2003 - by George Sinclair

29 years after making my first ascent of this spectacular mountain, I finally returned to make my second ascent. This time, instead of following the easy route from Dade Lake, we did the "classic" Northeast Ridge first climbed by Norman Clyde in 1932. My climbing partner was Gabe Amador.

From the parking lot, it took us only about 2.5 hours to reach Treasure Lakes. After a quick lunch, we dropped our packs at one of the lakes, and headed up towards the mountain. Eventually we reached the lower part of the ridge at about 2:00 in the afternoon. Until about 300-400 feet from the top, the climbing on the ridge was not harder than class 3. The class 3 climbing ends at a particularly steep section. We uncoiled our rope here. After the steep section there is a little more class 3, and then it gets steep again just below the summit rocks. The final section seemed to be pretty sustained and rather exposed class 4 climbing. There are many route possibilities here. Eventually we reached the top at about 6:00.

After a short rappel (there are rappel slings), we hiked down to Cox Col (follow use-trail). Below Cox Col we encountered some hard snow where we used our ice axes. We eventually made it back to Treasure Lakes just as it got dark. The following morning we hiked out.

The only gear we used on this climb was a 120-foot 9mm rope, some slings, and ice axes (for the descent). I brought along a few nuts, but never used them.

Incidentally my first ascent of Bear Creek Spire was on a joint RCS-PCS trip that included Bill Hooker, Margaret Young, Vera Watson, and Steve Brewer. All except Steve are no longer with us. Margaret died from cancer over 20 years ago; Bill died in an avalanche on Mt. Huandoy in Peru a few months after the climb; and Vera died while attempting Annapurna.


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