North Arete, Bear Creek Spire 5.8

 
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High Sierra, California USA

  • Currently 4.0/5
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Summary of All Ratings

SuperTopo Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Your Rating:     (none)
Rating Distribution
12 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (3)
4 star: 58%  (7)
3 star: 8%  (1)
2 star: 8%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Dave

Advanced climber
Aug 20, 2002 - 05:12pm
 
Fantastic route.
Be careful on the descent, the gully from the notch described in the supertopo does not look like fun. Very steep hardpack rock dust, this descent is probably fine with snow but is not now. Walk a short ways up the other side of the ridge from the notch, cross through the ridge and traverse diagonally down to the left over rock and talus. This looked like the best way when viewed from the summit and was very straightforward.
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Rich The Brit

Intermediate climber
Sep 22, 2002 - 02:43am
 
Headed into Little Lakes valley to climb the Spire (4 people on the ridge, 2 on the arrete). Both climbs were excellent. Those fearing the 5.8 off-width should think twice before taking the 5.10 variation.

Follow the descent beta posted on this page - it is spot on.
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imamonkey

Advanced climber
Oct 22, 2002 - 03:45pm
 
Remembering the start of the offwidth pitch as a perch on a thin flake of rock - then pulling up into the slot with good protection. Don't hestitate, and you won't get buggered ;) Sometimes these topos just seem to be a matter of too much information" LOL.
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Marshall

climber
bay area
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   Jul 6, 2004 - 07:09pm

Climbed this one over the weekend. As the topo indicates, the steep snow at the base is soft enough by eight or nine in the morning to make a running-shoe approach very do-able. The route-finding is straightforward on the bottom half of the route, and we found the 5.8 pitch to be neither awkward nor a chimney nor an offwidth, but just some steep stems and hand-jams on good rock. The chimney above is fairly loose and conveniently empties onto your belayer. The second half of the route wanders a bit more and definitely felt 5th class close to the ridge. We brought a few more cams in the medium range than the topo recommended and were happy with the decision.
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Jake M.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
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   Sep 2, 2004 - 12:56pm
Climbed the spire on August 24, and found it to be great fun, well protected, and great rock. I did not carry a supertopo of the route, however, and as a result climbed a different variation on the headwall. We climber the crack that splits the main headwall to the right of both the 5.8 ow and the 5.10 variation. I found this pitch to be quite enjoyable, and was suprised that it wasn't the main route. It started off with an awkward, difficult-to-protect dihedral that felt like the crux, then had steep, airy climbing through a hand/fist crack to the ledge. If the crack was in Yosemite Valley, it'd probably weigh in at 5.9. It did feel more difficult at that altitude and due to the fact that I was climbing in my approach shoes. Upon returning, I saw photos of the crux pitch, and they looked nothing like what we'd climbed. I too a gander at a supertopo book, and saw we'd climbed the far right variation listed in the book, but the book listed no rating.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Oct 20, 2004 - 11:15am
 
i just got this beta from a supertopo user:

The first pitch climbed more like a low low 5th than a 4th. Maybe it was because we weren't roped, but I think even with a rope it would have felt harder. The description was good, but we managed to get lost above pitch 7 where you're supposed to climb low fifth up the arete. Climbing the easiest stuff in front of us, which felt no easier than low fifth, we ended up forced off the ridge to the right by a featureless gendarm.and then had to climb some wierd, dirty, hard stuff to get back up on. If you've never heard anything like this from anybody else it's clearly just evidence of our poor route finding. But I thought I'd mention it.
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Mtnfreak

Trad climber
Lost on the West Coast
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   Jul 23, 2005 - 01:11pm
My feedback is that the aproach from Dade Lake to the base of the route takes more like 1:30, not the 45 minutes described. And I don't think this route is worthy of the hype it gets. It was a fun, interesting, alpine climb with a short crux. But when I have friends visiting from out of town, this is not on the short list of alpine climbs to show them (Temple Crag and 3rd Pillar are). Now that I've finally climbed it and experienced it for myself, I have no desire to revisit it.
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Dmo

climber
S. Lake Tahoe, CA
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   Jun 26, 2006 - 01:21am
Hey all,
Having just climbed this route and enjoying it greatly, I am curiose as to which way the route classicaly heads during the 5th-ish 'off width' pitch. Not having a copy of the supertopo for the area we followed Pete Croft's map wich was hardly deffinative.

we followed the line that someone has kindly drawn here:

http://www.summitpost.org/image/124615/150612/this-is-the-way-deb-and-i-did.html

It sounds like the line that Jake mentions.

I enjoyed it but suspect it not to be the classic method.

So the true route heads around the corner?

any comments appreciated.

dan
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crotch

climber
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   Jun 28, 2006 - 01:44pm
I believe that the left facing fin just to the left of the yellow line on that picture is the supertopo route.

What were the snow conditions?
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Dmo

climber
S. Lake Tahoe, CA
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   Jun 29, 2006 - 01:44am
From looking at the ST topo of the OW it looks like the route goes to the left and behind of the headwall block. what ever.

as far as snow

This past weekend, 6/24-25, there were patches until chicken foot lake and on up from there was pretty deep, sun furrowed and sloppy. we avoided a good deal of the snow by walking the ridgeline from Gem Lakes to Dade. From there its all snow. Good times. Plenty of h2o. The decent from the summit was clear and getting down from the saddle was sketchy at best. We caused a point release of decent size by tossing a pebble onto the slope. Good sneaker skiing in the slide path though.

Cheers,
dmo
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jun 29, 2006 - 01:49am
 
yeah, it looks like you guys were about 20 feet too far right. i think in the picture you posted on summitjournal you can actually see climbers at the base of the 5.8 regular way. or maybe those are just big ants...
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Dmo

climber
S. Lake Tahoe, CA
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   Jun 29, 2006 - 02:45pm
Thanks Chris, That makes sence indeed.

and yeah, I hadn't noticed those ants on that photo/drawing that I linked. Cool. Giant climbing ants like the rout too. Be afraid.
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Crista

climber
Las Vegas, Nevada
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   Jul 20, 2006 - 08:18pm
Amazing route, did the 5.10 variation on accident, but it was really good! It was pretty warm, didn't ever put on a beanie, just climbed in a shell and t-shirt. Snow was hard to deal with on decent... we did have one ice ax, but once through the steep snow it made for a fast glisade. The sun holes are in full force. I hope this beta helps since prior beta on this site helped me for sure... oh bring shitloads of deet or nylon clothing, mosquitos were in the billions all the way up to Dade.
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ardanielson

Trad climber
Davis, CA
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   Aug 29, 2006 - 12:29pm
Really fun route, the topos were great. We managed to link p3 & p4 with a 60m rope. We set up the belay for the crux pitch 30 ft below the "chimney" this keeps you from dumping rock onto your belayer if you pull somthing loose out of the chimney. We had no trouble with the crux, one chicken-wing followed by a few fist jams did it for me. We got to the top in time for sunset (started at 9am from the trailhead), and had a great time negotiating the talus fields in the dark with headlamps. It wasn't dangerous just very very slow. I would recommend bringing crampons if you think you might end up on the snow fields in the dark, but we were fine with ice-axes.
Aaron
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cgw

Trad climber
Santa Barbara
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   Sep 27, 2006 - 11:28pm
Climbed this route this last weekend. There is a ~35lb "death block" in the 5.6 gulley/chimney above the 5.8 wide flakes. I pulled on it and then managed to push it back.

It is hanging on by a couple crystals, and it is right in the middle of the chimney, so I expect someone will be pulling it out if it doesn't fall out on its own this winter.

This rock will bounce around down the gulley, probably damaging your rope, and doing serious damage to your partner.

Also, the 2-3 foot deep suncupped snow is bullet hard below the usual notch descent. We made two 30m rappels off boulders to get to the talus below and left.
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poop_tube

Big Wall climber
33 45' N 117 52' W
Nov 4, 2006 - 03:13pm
 
Hi everyone,

I lost my ski pole coming down from Bear Creek Spire before I got to Dad Lake 2 weeks ago. If anyone has seen it or is going up there I would greatly appreciate it if they returned it. Thanks.

Cheers

Kia
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msiddens

Trad climber
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   Aug 7, 2007 - 10:00pm
Did this a week ago and found it to be very nice. Seemed to have more teetering blocks than some of the Sierra routes I've been on. Chalk it up to altitude. Enjoyed it with just enough gear to make the car to car nice. Home in time for beer.
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sharon

Trad climber
Bay Area, CA
Aug 15, 2007 - 05:46pm
 
Was there any need for ice axes on the approach/descent?
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dmalloy

Trad climber
eastside
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   Aug 20, 2007 - 01:22am
Sharon - no snow gear needed for the rest of this year.
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JCM

Trad climber
Sherbrooke, Quebec
Sep 3, 2007 - 10:01pm
 
I go on the last week of september for that route, do you think we will need ice gear for reching the base or going down the gully? Do you think it's possible to climb the route with only a set of nut and a set of trecam or we have to carry a full set of cam has supertopo?
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elron

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe
Sep 10, 2007 - 01:37pm
 
I did the route this weekend (9/9) for the first time and it was a blast! Took a little longer than we thought and it was dark by the time we got back to the car.

Weather was nice... sunny and not much wind, temps in the 50s or so up high. The route stays in the shade for the majority of it, so dress warm. I almost left my fleece vest at camp as i thought i'd be too hot, but was glad i brought it

We had some routefinding difficulties on the 2nd pitch (our fault) and the 7th pitch (probably our fault again, but i couldn't match what I saw to the supertopo at all). The ridge traverse up top is great!

The rappel slings (2 sets, at ~20 ft. north and ~60 ft. north of the summit block) both looked to be in pretty good shape.

No snow crossings at all. All of the approach, route, and descent were on rock/gravel.

Edit: JCM - We took a single set of nuts, tcu's 2 and 3 (yellow, orange) and 5 BD C4's from .5 to 3. I was definitely glad to have the cams, and would have felt sketched doing it with just tricams, though i suppose it all depends on experience. Especially at the crux, I thought the #3 C4 came in quite handy

Kevin
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clustiere

Trad climber
berkeley ca
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   Aug 22, 2008 - 03:56am
The 5.10 var just rigth of the original/standard route was horrible, loose and crap. The rest of the route was pretty good, the upper ridge was money.

ah apperently I was of route on the "5.10" pitch
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jay jay

Ice climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 30, 2008 - 01:22pm
 
With short days and iffy snow covered talus, this route is probably done for the year... except for the hardcore.

Partner and I soloed the Northeast arete on 19 October. We had planned on climbing the North Arete. But the snow covered talus slowed down our approach and gave concern about slower climbing and descent. Lots of twisted ankle and knee potential on the menacing, slippery, snow covered talus. Northeast arete centric photos at http://flickr.com/photos/jjkuo/sets/72157608223656268/
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ericdehaven

Sport climber
los angeles
Oct 10, 2011 - 08:03pm
 
Has anyone been up there in the past week or so?
We are planning a trip this weekend and though I know its going to be quite cold, I am curious on the overall conditions and how much snow may be covering the approach and the climb?
thanks
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jvSF

Trad climber
San Francisco
Aug 23, 2011 - 10:51pm
 
anybody climbed this recently and have conditions?
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Brock

Trad climber
RENO, NV
Aug 28, 2011 - 05:15am
 
Just climbed it 8/20/11. One day hike in, 6am start at trail head and at climb by 10am. We didn't need crampons, but ice axe was very helpful. Still many ice fields with large suncups. The decent is a bit treacherous, but we rapped the snow field with twin 60m's. We were a party of three and climbed leisurely so we got back to the car at 11pm at night. Tip: take a water filter and headlamps. Found the route to be solid without any loose blocks.
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schaffner

Trad climber
Aug 27, 2011 - 02:07am
 
We climbed it a while ago (7/2/2011). The route was/is obviously completely free of snow. We also had access to water at the lake. No snowshoes/crampons required for the approach at that time, but we brought ice axes.
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wintermute

Mountain climber
Sep 21, 2011 - 10:18pm
 
I am planning a trip next week. Anybody climbed it recently? I am a bit worried about the descent on "ice" fields. I was wondering if I should bring crampons ice axe, etc..

Thank you.
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toadgas

Social climber
los angeles
Sep 21, 2011 - 11:31pm
 
wintermute...climbed the North Arete first week of Sept 2011...may have snowed since then, a bit.

on the descent we did not bother with crampons, cause we took the easy 3rd class rock 100ft or so to the left of the notch/rap/snow descent.

instead of frozen snowfields, you can follow the scree/boulderfields down to Dade Lake, more or less...but a light pair of instep crampons would make the frozen snowfields go real fast; ice axe might be useful

I did feel more comfortable using a short axe to get to the very base of the route, used it for about 100ft before roping up
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Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Sep 22, 2011 - 03:21am
 
Do not bring crampons or axe. It is easy to get to the base without bringing that extra weight. At worst you can pick up a sharp rock and use that for stability. Climbing 4th class rock band towards the big ledge was a lot less secure than that short sun cupped section. There was an awkward move (with a pack and all) to get into traversing crack..took my friend a few minutes to get up it.
On the descent I kept left of steep snow on 3rd class dirty crap. After you traverse down and left you may walk across the snow towards the rock island by the base of the route (if you left something there), or continue descending. I took 5.10 var on an accident and was really happy we did not bring crampons or axes. They are not needed.
It is a North facing buttress, so down sweater is a great thing to have.
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flykatcher

climber
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   Aug 29, 2013 - 09:36pm
just climbed this route two days ago (8/27). There is no snow on the approach/base of climb. We found water a little below the start of the climb and were able to fill up our bottles from the trickle. some of the flakes seemed pretty weak, esp one flake on the long 5.7 crack on pitch 1.
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Bear Creek Spire - North Arete 5.8 - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The route from just above Dade Lake.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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