Northeast Ridge 5.5

 
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Bear Creek Spire


High Sierra, California USA


Trip Report
NE Ridge on Bear Creek Spire: Bachelor Weekend
Wednesday September 29, 2010 2:16am
This past weekend Jeremy, Ryan and I went up to the Sierra to celebrate Jeremy’s last weekend of singledom… by doing what we do best, climb mountains. No strippers, no Vegas, just good company and a long, fun alpine route that was new to us all.

We set out Friday night to the usual Giants baseball on the radio. We drove fast through the night and arrived at Wild Willies after only 5 1/2 hours on the road. We awoke to Mt. Morrison and the East Side lighting up in the morning light.

Davis gestures over coffee
Davis gestures over coffee
Credit: Byrner

After coffee, we gathered our things, headed to Mammoth for wilderness permits, then made our way to the trailhead at Rock Creek. It was early morning when we arrived, so we decided to chill a bit.

Jeremy takes care of business.
Jeremy takes care of business.
Credit: Byrner

We packed everything and then set out for basecamp at Dade Lake, passing through Little Lakes Basin.

Passing through Little Lakes Basin.
Passing through Little Lakes Basin.
Credit: Byrner

We ascend talus and glacial benches.

Jeremy and Ryan ascend talus benches on the way to Dade Lake.
Jeremy and Ryan ascend talus benches on the way to Dade Lake.
Credit: Byrner

And we finally arrive in camp for a few fleeting rays of sunlight on the peak.

Final rays on Bear Creek Spire from Dade Lake.
Final rays on Bear Creek Spire from Dade Lake.
Credit: Byrner

We settled in for a comfy night in the backcountry. I slept out and watched the nearly full moon bathe the surrounding peaks in silver light.

We awoke Saturday morning, made some coffee and ramen for breakfast, put on our harnesses and began heading up towards the NE ridge of the Spire.

Jeremy and Ryan ascend the talus to the base of the route.
Jeremy and Ryan ascend the talus to the base of the route.
Credit: Byrner

We reach the NE ridge and the first part is only class 2 and 3. Making quick work of the scrambling, we caught up to other parties that left the lake earlier in the morning.

Jeremy and Ryan ascend the 3rd class lower part of the route.
Jeremy and Ryan ascend the 3rd class lower part of the route.
Credit: Byrner

Jeremy and Ryan check out the more technical parts of the route.
Jeremy and Ryan check out the more technical parts of the route.
Credit: Byrner

Soon the route steepens at a band of cool, striated rock just beyond the first tower. We pull ourselves over a few 4th class moves and then decide to rope up and begin simul-climbing.

Jeremy and Ryan roping up.
Jeremy and Ryan roping up.
Credit: Byrner

And away we go, making quick work of the first few hundred feet of the route. The ridge was mainly 4th class with a few, super fun sections of moderate 5th. Jeremy led the initial simuling section of the route while I took the later, more exposed sections.

Ryan coming up through a fun handcrack.
Ryan coming up through a fun handcrack.
Credit: Byrner

The climbing was fun and exciting, but fairly easy. All of the belays were well-protected and in generally nice spots along the ridge.

Ryan and Jeremy check out the upper ridge.
Ryan and Jeremy check out the upper ridge.
Credit: Byrner

We move ever higher and reach the summit ridge. The route seemed to be moving along much faster than I had anticipated, even with being held up a bit behind another party of 3. Before we knew it, we were on the summit ridge, enjoying the big exposures and perfect September day.

Jeremy and Ryan at a high belay.
Jeremy and Ryan at a high belay.
Credit: Byrner

The final pitch on the summit ridge was a beauty. I led off from the belay up and over a bulge, not knowing what lay on the other side. This is my favorite aspect of alpine climbing: you never know what lies ahead, but keep pressing forward, looking for the weakness in the ridge or face.

I scrambled over and around some airy traverses, then down-climbed an exposed 10 foot slot, climbed back up and across a broad slab and finally reached a secure spot that met up with the descent trail. I slung a chossy horn for an anchor and wedged myself into a slot to give my buddies their belay.

Jeremy and Ryan on the final traversing pitch on the W. side of the ri...
Jeremy and Ryan on the final traversing pitch on the W. side of the ridge.
Credit: Byrner

I opted to bear right on the ridge so to avoid the 5.9 moves on the east side of the ridge. This made for some easier scrambling, but we did not end up on the summit. Rather, we arrived at the start of the ledgy descent trail, with the summit ridge about 50-100 feet above us. We unroped and decided to solo has high as we could. We reached a perch above a fun 20 foot crack, made some lunch and decided to call it a day. The view was fantastic.

Looking north from near the summit of Bear Creek Spire.
Looking north from near the summit of Bear Creek Spire.
Credit: Byrner

Satisfied with a great day and ready to crack our 3 beers in camp, we began our descent back to camp.

Jeremy negotiates scree and talus as we descend back to camp.
Jeremy negotiates scree and talus as we descend back to camp.
Credit: Byrner

We arrived in camp a bit dehydrated, but in great spirits. I cooked dinner, and we then sipped whiskey under the moon and shared countless ridiculous moments of altitude-induced banter, followed by uproarious laughter. The next morning, the famous Sierra alpenglow did not disappoint.

Sunrise on the morning out.
Sunrise on the morning out.
Credit: Byrner

Time to move on. We broke camp, headed back down Little Lakes Basin and walked out to the trailhead at Rock Creek where we cracked some cold beers and discussed the Giants scores from the previous two nights that we had missed in the backcountry.

This is the way to spend a bachelor weekend…

Oh, and the Giants won their series with Colorado. Here we go Giants, here we go!

September in the Sierra.
September in the Sierra.
Credit: Byrner

Check out more trip reports and photos on the blog:

http://tiedin.wordpress.com/

  Trip Report Views: 2,369
Byrner
About the Author
Byrner is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Sep 29, 2010 - 02:19am PT
Good fun... and nice photos! What kind of camera?
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 29, 2010 - 02:23am PT
nothing beats laughter in the bc.

rock it
Byrner

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Author's Reply  Sep 29, 2010 - 03:23am PT
Thanks, guys. Was a great weekend.

I shoot a Nikon D100.

Steve
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

Trad climber
  Sep 29, 2010 - 10:00am PT
Sounds and looks like a great weekend out. Nice work.
billygoat

climber
Pees on beard to seek mates.
  Sep 29, 2010 - 10:21am PT
And how bout those Giants!?! Last night was especially friggin' great, Saturday night was a good night to be in the back country. Nice TR!
Byrner

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Author's Reply  Sep 29, 2010 - 12:56pm PT
How bout those Giants now? Playoffs look really good!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Sep 29, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
Sweet BP party. Good idea.

A few years back my buddies BP was a backpacking trip, it was such a great time!

Thanks for posting.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Sep 29, 2010 - 02:12pm PT
Excellent! Thank you.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 29, 2010 - 02:29pm PT
Nice pics and commentary, thanks
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Sep 29, 2010 - 02:44pm PT
That looks downright fun.

Kick ass pics too!


EDIT: Oh, and congrats to Jeremy for his wedding!
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
  Sep 29, 2010 - 05:18pm PT
I love that route and the giants AND i live in Berkeley Too! ha!

Dave R
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 29, 2010 - 06:28pm PT
Superduper cool. Well done. Way to stay clean and go for adventure rather than regret for your bud's bachelor party. Two thumbs up. Great photos and a great memory for you guys for sure.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 29, 2010 - 06:29pm PT
By the way, on that Nikon, what setting do you use? I have the D200 and have been dealing with some funky color issues. Do you keep it on anything simple, or do you have a backcround in photography?
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Sep 30, 2010 - 02:28am PT
Nice pics. Looks almost crowded with all of those people, ropes, slings, gear, and stuff.
Byrner

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Author's Reply  Sep 30, 2010 - 08:21pm PT
BMcC: Yeah, it was "crowded" for what I would consider an alpine route. It is a classic in the Sierra, though... We definitely had too much gear and were using twin ropes that Jeremy had just picked up. Jeremy has only been leading trad for 2 years and I have for about 3, so we tend to beef up our racks to feel more comfortable if we want to sew something up, but in this case, I really thought soloing was a viable option. The exposure doesn't bother me too much. I guess the extra weight is good training weight. So too were the beers that we brought in for Sat. night.

Micronut: I'm just self-trained in photography and have only had my D100 for a year. A relative gave it to me after I expressed an interest in an SLR.

I keep it pretty simple shooting in either manual or aperture priority. You might try working with the white balance on your camera if colors are funky. Typically I have a polarizer on my lenses, especially for the bright light of the Sierra.

Happy Shooting and climbing!
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Sep 30, 2010 - 08:53pm PT
The depth of field in a lot of your shots made the difference. It's an awesome photographic tool. Cool stuff.

If I'm not mistaken the f-stop determines the depth of field.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 30, 2010 - 11:15pm PT
A great TR that I stupidly missed.

Those are some amazing pictures guys!!

Thanks for making the effort to put this together.
ShibbyShane

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
  May 24, 2011 - 02:48pm PT
Nice trip report, I'll definitely add this to my list for this summer.

I was wondering what you use to carry your DSLR while climbing? I have a Canon Rebel, but I'm always loathe to bring it climbing because it's a pain to carry and still have it easily available to shoot. Thanks!
Bowser

Social climber
Durango CO
  May 24, 2011 - 02:55pm PT
Nice TR. Thanks for sharing.
Zander

climber
  May 24, 2011 - 05:12pm PT
Oh yeah!
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
  May 24, 2011 - 05:28pm PT
in vegas, at best, you end up broke, at worst you end up in a tub of ice water, broke and without a kidney. what a celebrate with good friends and keep your kidney!
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  May 24, 2011 - 05:45pm PT
awesome way to spend a batch weekend!
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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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The route from just above Dade Lake.