Category Archives: Bear Creek Spire

Bear Creek Spire


Bruce and I set out for a climbing trip in the Sierras on Friday afternoon. We got to our campsite just before dark and quickly set up camp and organized our gear before heading to bed. Our objective for Saturday was Bear Creek Spire which is a classic Sierra climb at 13,713ft. There are several routes up BCS and we were climbing the North-East Ridge. We were on the trail head at 5:30am. The views of the dawn light against the mountains was absolutely beautiful. We hiked at a brisk pace for about 3.5 miles before turning off trail. The route from the trail to the base mostly involved boulder hopping. We got to the base of the mountain about 8:00am. The ascent was a blast. It involved mostly 4th class climbing with some short 5th class sections. We brought a rope and climbing gear but the 5th class sections were short and relatively easy. Bruce led the way and did a great job route finding and we only had to backtrack a few times. There was quite a bit of exposure (meaning a long way with nothing to stop you) but the holds were great and granite is extremely strong. In the crux of the climb, a 15ft chimney, I leaned back pretty hard holding onto this flake of rock that was no thicker than a couple of pieces of cardboard. 
Time again flew by and we had reached the summit at 10am. We expected to reach the summit around noon and were pleasantly surprised by the speed in which we reached the peak. The
true summit was a huge block that required a couple of climbing moves to get on top of. The moves weren’t too hard but the exposure made you sweat it. You’ll see from the pictures Bruce did it much more gracefully than I did. I was laying on my stomach and was reluctant to turn around for the picture, however Bruce got a great one of my best side. We took the views in for almost an hour on the peak. 
The descent involved one rappel to easier ground. We took another break at Dade Lake at the base of the Mtn. The water was so clear you could easily see bottom all the way from the peak about 2000′ above. We had to go light and didn’t bring a water filter. The water was so pure there was no problem filling our bottles right out of the lake. It was, I’m sure, much cleaner than any municipal water. The hike out was pretty uneventful and we reached the car about 2:30. This was a very welcome surprise. We were expecting the trip to take around 12 hrs and we were also prepared to be hiking out in the dark. The reasons we finished so early were that we moved fast, took few breaks, and didn’t end up using our climbing gear. We considered driving home that night but we didn’t have enough of the mountains yet. 
We decided to get some burritos and a six pack of beer and camp in the White Mountains to climb White Mountain. The White Mtns. are a range directly East of the Sierra. The valley in between the ranges is said to be the deepest in the world. The valley floor is about 4000′ elevation and to the west you have Mt. Whitney (14,494′) and to the East White Mtn. (14,252′). White Mtn. is the third highest peak in California. It is, however, by far the easiest of the California fourteeners to climb. However, it was to be my first fourteener and Bruce needed some extra altitude training for his climbing trip next week up Mt. Whitney and Mt. Russel. The trip was pretty uneventful. Whereas the Sierra are majestically beautiful, the White Mtns. are barren and have a near moonscape quality. The drive up involved about 15 miles on a rough road to the trail head, and because we were in a car it took over an hour to travel. The hike was about 14 miles with 3000′ of elevation gain. We were a little sore and tired from the day before so the hike took about 5.5 hours. We got back into Vegas about 6:30.
This was easily my favorite trip this year. Bruce and I got along great and both moved at a similar pace. After I don’t even know many weekends straight of trips I’m looking forward to resting next weekend and the weekend after that I start my week long trip in the Sierra.