Bear Creek Spire East Arete

Tom's Place, California

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The northern aspect of Bear Creek Spire commands the view of hikers traveling in the Little Lakes Valley. From the Pine Creek drainage, the great south face and east arete of Bear Creek Spire are impressive sights as well. There is some confusion about exactly who made the first ascent of the east ridge. A fine photo of this ridge is included in Norman Clyde’s book Close Ups of the High Sierra. It is possible that Clyde, Hervey Voge, and David Brower made an ascent of the ridge (avoiding the major difficulties) in the 1920s. Clyde wrote of their climbing a route up the left side of the east face. “In about a hundred feet of almost vertical rise we reached the upper end of the couloir. Above us about 500 feet of precipitous face rose to the blade-like summit of the mountain. Up this we continued diagonally, picking our way along ledges, and hoisting ourselves over steep intervening pitches.” Steve Roper’s 1976 guidebook described the ridge as, “Moderate Class 5. This is the spectacular step-like ridge that rises from the col between Bear Creek Spire and the peaklet southwest of Spire Lake. It is an enjoyable and lengthy climb. F.A.: Unknown.” After consulting with Roper, Galen Rowell believed that the route had not actually been climbed and claimed the first ascent with John Martinek in August of 1982. Rowell wrote that they had spent a long day on the route climbing 22 pitches. “In retrospect, the guidebook entry was entirely accurate: the route was lengthy, enjoyable fifth-class and the first ascent was indeed unknown.”

Bear Creek Spire: East Arete Professional Review and Guide

"The northern aspect of Bear Creek Spire commands the view of hikers traveling in the Little Lakes Valley. From the Pine Creek drainage, the great south face and east arete of Bear Creek Spire are impressive sights as well. There is some confusion about exactly who made the first ascent of the east ridge. A fine photo of this ridge is included in Norman Clyde’s book Close Ups of the High Sierra. It is possible that Clyde, Hervey Voge, and David Brower made an ascent of the ridge (avoiding the major difficulties) in the 1920s. Clyde wrote of their climbing a route up the left side of the east face. “In about a hundred feet of almost vertical rise we reached the upper end of the couloir. Above us about 500 feet of precipitous face rose to the blade-like summit of the mountain. Up this we continued diagonally, picking our way along ledges, and hoisting ourselves over steep intervening pitches.” Steve Roper’s 1976 guidebook described the ridge as, “Moderate Class 5. This is the spectacular step-like ridge that rises from the col between Bear Creek Spire and the peaklet southwest of Spire Lake. It is an enjoyable and lengthy climb. F.A.: Unknown.” After consulting with Roper, Galen Rowell believed that the route had not actually been climbed and claimed the first ascent with John Martinek in August of 1982. Rowell wrote that they had spent a long day on the route climbing 22 pitches. “In retrospect, the guidebook entry was entirely accurate: the route was lengthy, enjoyable fifth-class and the first ascent was indeed unknown.”"

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Tom's Place
Class: Class 5.6 - 5.8
Local Contacts: John Muir Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Morgan, Mt. Abbot, Mt. Hilgard
Grade: Grade IV
Driving Directions: Directions to Bear Creek Spire: East Arete

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May 2018