Northeast Ridge, Bear Creek Spire 5.5

 
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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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  • 5
 (4.3)
Your Rating:     (none)
Rating Distribution
9 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (3)
4 star: 67%  (6)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Jun 26, 2014 - 02:06pm
 
Was there a few weeks ago. Did the standard approach on main trail to gem lake then left up a gully. Bugs below gem lake but no snow. Snow above dade lake but no bugs. No crampons or axe needed (maybe if it was pre dawn, but snow maybe gone now). No snow on either route. Plenty of camp spots and water between Gem and Dade but did it in a day ourselfs. Enjoy!

Matt
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Rich The Brit

Intermediate climber
under the sea
Sep 22, 2002 - 02:55am
 
I climbed this over labor day weekend. Promised the wife I would take her up something spectacular but easy. Couldn't have chosen a better route. The final knife edge ridge is great.

I lead about 5.8 or 9, and I did the whole thing in hiking boots, apart from the 5.6R summit mantle - took 30m of 7mm, 6 cams, half set of nuts and plenty of slings. I found the rope nice for a move or two, but definitely simu or solo territory. About 8 hrs there and back from Dade Lake with a novice on the rope.

Use the descent beat on this page - it was spot on. Climb a shortways above the low point of the ridge before descending. Then angle left to reach easier ground.
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cgw

Trad climber
Santa Barbara
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   Sep 13, 2004 - 12:37pm
Climbed on Sept. 12 with a friend visiting from Austria. We approached Saturday afternoon after a morning climb at Crystal Crag in Mammoth Lakes. Please note that the trail to Gem Lakes is just after a footbridge made of large granite blocks, not a wooden footbridge as listed. However, there is a sign just afterwards which shows the way. We bivied at Dade lake (woke up sometime during the night to the sound of insane rockfall from a surrounding peak). we started the final approach at 6:00 am wearing just about everything due to the wind (Brrr!).

We roped up on a short section of rope about 100m beyond the first tower, and simul-climbed to just below the summit. We definitely encountered a few 5th class sections, but that may be because we wanted to maintain the ridge as much as possible the whole way. This climb could be 4th class if you wandered about more trying to keep it at that.

We rapped from the sling just next to the summit. There is another sling near it that does not have rings; we chose to pass on this one. From the notch, we could not find any rappel slings as listed in the Supertopo notes. The descent was straight forward and a dip in Dade Lake brought our senses back to life.

Overall, the rock quality is really good, the position if you stay right on the ridge is fantastic, and the views are amazing.
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Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
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   May 6, 2005 - 03:05pm
I soloed this route several years ago when it was commonly referred to as a 4th class climb. Assuming easy stuff, I wore hiking boots and left the chalk bag at home. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, it is Norman Clyde "4th class," which could mean anything from 4th to 5.6 or so. I do agree that you could probably piece together a consistently 4th class route if you really wandered (which probably will detract from the quality of the climb). However, I definitely encountered 5.6 climbing, even busting a hold in the middle of such a section. Trouser filling stuff. A great moderate route well worth doing, just bring a rope if you're not comfortable soloing up to that level or want to take the more aesthetic line directly up the arete. If nothing else, you'll be able to rap off the summit pyramid rather than having to figure out the inobvious downclimb.
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Ney Grant

Trad climber
Pollock Pines
Aug 15, 2005 - 12:36pm
 
Completed August 10, 2005 as a family climb with 11 and 13 year old. The climb was fine, and the last few pitches on the ridge are what memories are made of - although my son was a little gripped with the exposure. Because of weight we brought one rope and did half pitches to bring everyone up.

The scariest part was the descent below the notch. I had forgotten how loose that is - I was getting pretty nervous watching my kids negotiate that. We finally got the rope back out to protect one very loose section above the snow field.

By the way, there is still snow on the approach above Dade lake. You can get around it with careful planning (we did because of the dawn start from Dade), but otherwise you may still need ice ax and/or crampons for AM conditions. We saw parties with and without.
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Eddie Rivera

Mountain climber
Ventura
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   Aug 25, 2005 - 02:11am
I soloed the route back in 95 , I must of been way of route because I ended up in a chimney which had some climbing gear that was left behind, which I pick-up just in case I would need any of it, I continue on to the summit block. Anyways That Route is number 1 in by book. To this day I still think about the route:-)
Eddie
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mooch

Trad climber
Old Climbers' Home (Adopted)
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   Feb 27, 2007 - 11:20pm
Surprised we didn't see you up there benpullin. We did the route on the same day as you (Aug 26 2006). My wife and I soloed this with relative ease. Classic Sierra scrambling with a few low end 5th moves. The best part was on the "stegasaurus" back about half way up. That section felt like the first few pitches on Moon Goddess Arete, Temple Crag. Fairly easy climbing. We decided to work further right and get in some more exposure by eventually joining up with the last pitch of North Arete. I don't get what all the hype is about the summit block.....that was just another part of the climb...maybe a move or two of 5.6. No big.
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benpullin

Boulder climber
SLC, UT
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   Aug 27, 2006 - 10:02pm
I soloed this route 8/26/06, CTC. The approach was pretty straightforward and the route was really amazing. I am not an accomplished Sierra climber, and while the climbing was never very hard (5.6 at most), it is very exposed, making for an exciting solo. I found the route very straightforward until reaching the summit, where there was a bit of route finding to get to the west side and gain the ramp described in the Supertopo. The boulder problem at the summit is a perfect finish to this route.

Regarding the approach, when leaving the Lakes Trail, you should head up either of two gullies, the right of which has a very distinct "X" crack on a left-facing rock wall. You then go up and over a small ridge, putting you above Gem Lakes. You then traverse over to the mouth the gully from Gem Lake which leads to the unnamed lake. The wooden foot bridge is actually the second of its kind on the trail.

The 3rd and 4th class down the notch were loose, but manageable. The snow fields on the descent were slushy and a pain in the you-know-what (literally, a couple times), but were easier to negotiate with trekking poles.

Definitely a classic route and I can't wait to go back and do the North Arete.
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ADK

climber
anon
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   Sep 25, 2006 - 06:14pm
Did this route this past weekend. The climbing never has to exceed 5.6 or so although there are some good variations in the mid section. The summit ridge topo confused us a little. We decided to traverse around the West side of the summit via a horiz. crack system and finish via some easy vertical cracks to a short 10' chimney. The rappel off the summits west side is 100 ft (not 50) to easy ground. However, if one is using a 30m line like we were, you can do a second rap off a knob at a good resting spot.
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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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dmalloy

Trad climber
eastside
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   Jun 10, 2007 - 06:17pm
I climbed this route with my girl on Friday June 8. Some beta for folks....

short-term snow condition beta - we hiked in to the end of the Gem Lakes use trail on the day before, and then scouted the first part of the approach. There were snowfields starting just about there, and even in the afternoon we were not postholing. We walked on snow for 99% of the approach from that point on, which seemed much easier than approaching over scree/talus as I did last year. We were also able to glissade much of the way from Cox Col back to Dade Lake. So get up there soon and save yourself some effort, before the snow all melts.

climbing beta - our team doesn't really solo anything harder than 3rd class. We roped up and simuled from the second tower that you scramble behind on up to the crest, in two blocks. Most of that way was quite easy, and even those who don't want to solo the whole thing can probably scramble up higher than we did before roping. Once you meet the crest, there are two exciting moves in a long horizontal pitch before you reach the ledges on the west side; the terrain up there is not really conducive to simuling, as the crest creates a lot of rope drag. We left our ropes and gear about 100 feet below the summit block - there are a few more exciting moves up there but it would be difficult to get gear and keep the rope running, so be prepared to solo the last section.

camping beta - we camped on the east side of the largest of the Gem Lakes, where there are several nice campsites available about 75 yards from the lake. I think a lot of folks who aren't going car-to-car ought to consider camping there instead of Dade Lake (which is usually recommended) for a couple of reasons : first, from there on the approach trail peters out and the walking becomes much more rough, which is no fun when you have camping gear, climbing gear and a bear can on your back; and second, Dade Lake is pretty much above treeline and the soil is not conducive to breaking down any human waste you leave behind, so the lower campsite is a better choice in terms of our impact on the area.

Great route, however you choose to do it, you should do it!
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gremlin

Trad climber
CO
Jun 16, 2007 - 02:00pm
 
Hey, did this on 6/10/07 and found a taped disposable camera and slings just below the summit, so let me know if they're yours. I'll be traveling most of the summer so won't be checking email much at all, so it might be awhile before you get it.
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jay jay

Ice climber
San Francisco, CA
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   Oct 30, 2008 - 01:18pm
Climbed it 19 October. We had planned on climbing the North Arete. But the talus covered snow slowed down our approach... and we were sure it would slow down our climbing and descent. So we ended up soloing the Northeast Arete instead. Photos at http://flickr.com/photos/jjkuo/sets/72157608223656268/
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GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Aug 9, 2009 - 03:45pm
 
Great route! A must do. Plan for a pain in the butt approach through talus :) but worth it for the views on the little lakes valley portion.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=925208
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Ebird

climber
Aug 14, 2009 - 10:43pm
 
Great route. Ranger's beta on approach worked well. Take the trail to the right at the end of Long lake towards Treasure Lakes. Just before Treasure Lakes there are some cairns going across the creek and follows that ridge to Dade Lake. He said it had less talus hopping than the Gem Lake approach and my partner who had been that way agreed.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 18, 2009 - 11:18am
 
Here is a cool photo trip report

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=931934
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Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jun 26, 2014 - 12:46pm
 
anyone been up this season yet? Bugs or snow report?

Preference on approaches?

edit- thx Matty!
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lizard fiasco

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
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   Jul 11, 2014 - 04:10pm
Nice car-to-car solo day peak. If anyone finds glasses in a black case near the post-summit downclimb/rap, please let me know--thanks!
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Bear Creek Spire - Northeast Ridge 5.5 - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The route as seen from above Dade Lake.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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*What is "Route Beta"?
It's climber slang for information or tips on a route as in, "what's the beta on that route?" As a service to fellow climbers we ask SuperTopo guidebook users to post tips and updates to this website if they have relevant information to share after a climb.