North Arete 5.8

  • Currently 4.0/5

Bear Creek Spire

High Sierra, California USA

Trip Report
North Arete of BCS with Salad (TR)

by Mic
Sunday August 3, 2008 6:45pm
I took up Salad's invitation to do some climbing in the Rock Creek area last week. The area is like a playground and I wanted to spend a week or so cragging, doing peaks, lazing around. In the end I only did the second two and it turned out to be a wonderful 5 days.
I meet up with Salad and neither of us have done the North Arete of Bear Creek Sprire(III 5.8), so we decide to do it Tuesday. The plan is relatively simple: we meet at the Mosquito Flat trailhead at 4 AM, walk out there, climb it, walk back. Mosquito Flat is wonderfully high and the first 3 miles are on easy trail through the beautiful Little Lakes Valley(seriously, a playground).

Rock Creek Lake in the evening

Little Lakes Valley, Bear Creek Spire on the left, the North Arete goes up the line between light and shadow on the center of the face.

I show up at the trailhead and Salad has a mug of coffee waiting. This is going to be an alright day. We head out on easy trail by headlamp. The last 2.5 miles of approach role up and over hills of talus. There was a bit of snow mixed in at the end.

Salad nearing the base, the North Arete is the one dropping down from the high point on the left.

The climbing is amazing. Great rock (lots of flakes and crystals). Great ledges. The 5.7 and 5.8 climbing comes in the first 5 (or 6?) pitches.

Salad pulling up to the ledge at the end of p.3? Little Lakes Valley behind him.

Me. Belaying. (I must like blue and really... it's not that cold out)

Salad leading up 4th class to the 5.8 pitch which goes up the left facing corner farthest to the left. Supposedly there is an offwidth in there, but I didn't see it. The most obvious way to me seemed a lieback-stem combo.

The 4th class was really solid and fun.

The climb starts to level out and it becomes sort of a ridge traverse. Eventually we reached some rap slings and had two choices. Traverse about 50 feet and go up 15 feet to the summit proper or rap 100' to the walk off. I can't remember what happened after that.

What is that dark mystery buttress?

On the walk down the northwest ridge shortly before dropping over the east side to skirt the base and reverse the approach.

Lower part of the route as seen from the descent on the northwest ridge.

Upper part of the route.

The hike out was fairly uneventful, though the talus always seems to become less stable and further its reach into the valley. We made it back to the road just barely without resorting to headlamp.


  Trip Report Views: 1,810
About the Author
Mic is a climber from Davis, CA.

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  Aug 3, 2008 - 07:44pm PT
Nice work guys. Have to do that one someday !

A place where Blue is the new Black...
  Aug 3, 2008 - 10:10pm PT
Great photos, Mic!

Thanks for the TR.

Sport climber
Golf Wall, CO
  Aug 3, 2008 - 11:04pm PT
That's a high quality route! Great choice. Nice pics! Glad you had fun.

  Aug 3, 2008 - 11:08pm PT
Nice TR Mic,
Great pics too.

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Aug 3, 2008 - 11:24pm PT
Alpine itch

Nice scratchin'!


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 4, 2008 - 12:27am PT
Salad bump.

give you a call shortly after done chatting with girlfriend.

Standing Strong

Trad climber
snowshoe thompson history trail
  Aug 4, 2008 - 01:40pm PT
sounds like a lovely day

Big Wall climber
  Aug 5, 2008 - 06:56pm PT
Thanks for posting Mic, and great pics!

What an awesome day with a super mellow and positive partner, great conversation and company and lots of laughes.

We would have been down much faster, but I wasn't on my game...Near the summit I was wondering what the hell was wrong with me when I realized I hadn't done any real free climbing in at least two years?!?! Maybe longer. I was pretty slow on lead, gear placements, and route finding, but Mic just kept on smiling and having a good time.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Aug 5, 2008 - 08:46pm PT
kick ass!

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Aug 5, 2008 - 09:06pm PT
Bunch of good TRs on the Topo lately. Shweeet!

right here, right now
  Aug 5, 2008 - 09:19pm PT
Good stuff!
Your photos really underscore the austere beauty.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Aug 5, 2008 - 10:34pm PT
Salad, great'll have to wow us locals again when you get home...or mayhaps you already are. Have any pics of your lovely wife and kidlets when you were camping ? It would be fun to check it out..... Now you need to check out Suicide and the big T. smiles, lynne

Trad climber
  Aug 5, 2008 - 11:55pm PT
Very Nice! Interesting to see the contrast between the Colorado mountains and the High Sierra on all these recent TR's.

  Aug 6, 2008 - 09:37am PT
"...but Mic just kept on smiling and having a good time."
That's what it's all about!

That valley is just beautiful. Here's another snapshot to keep us dreaming with our morning coffee.


Big Wall climber
  Feb 25, 2009 - 12:05pm PT
Mic, whatcha been up 2?

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
  Feb 25, 2009 - 01:23pm PT

Not sure if you told me about this trip last year but good job Jeff! When Debbi and I did the route a few years back, I allowed us to get suckered into doing the 5.10 corner (40' to the right of the 5.8 corner, thinking it was the "5.8 OW corner"). After huffing, puffing and cursing my head off, we topped out and lead to the "hole in the wall". I remember bending Deb's ear with comments like, "...that ain't no 5.8 climbing!" All the while, she's telling me, "Did it ever occur to you that we may have been too anxious in finding the next pitch?" (insert little voice that says "Shut the f*ck up Dave!) But thinking back to it, I'd do that variation again. Good pro, solid jams with wild stemming. See that photo of you at the top of the 4th class pitch (the variation corner is up and to your left about 10') and you'll see what I'm talking about.

BTW, wondering if you wanna head up to SoYo this year (since I've been pestering you all last year to come up with us all!!)? Give me a shout.


Boulder, CO
Author's Reply  Feb 25, 2009 - 01:42pm PT
Hey Salad! Sort of the usual up here. Working and heading out on weekends. Nicole and I went to the eastside for New Years. I hope you guys are doing well.

I've been meaning to email you. I've got this idea. Early spring wall...Yosemite...long weekend...Prow? You've been up there. Let's talk.



Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
  Feb 25, 2009 - 01:58pm PT
Keep your mitts off Salad! I got 'em first this year! HA! ;)
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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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The route as seen from above Dade Lake.