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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:25 pm 
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The NE Ridge of Bear Creek Spire had been on our informal list of things we ought to climb for a while. It seemed like our kind of route: lots of scrambling, lots of exposure, easy non-sustained 5th class. I'm not sure why, but it suddenly seemed like a good idea (probably the fast fading summer and the specter of having to wait until next spring/summer for decent conditions/day length). Bringing a light rope and a small rack seemed like a good idea, though we hoped to not need it (we didn't). Heading out early Friday evening got us to Mosquito Flat around 11:30pm. After curling up in the car for a few hours, the alarm went off and we faced the crux of the entire route: Getting up early enough to dayhike it. We hadn't done an alpine start for quite a while. Luckily, Toxo was especially motivated though, so she actually got up with minimal grumpiness (this almost never happens). So, crux pitch sent and up the trail we headed. It was really dark (no/new moon), so we trudged by headlamp until we were past Long Lake. There were a few headlamps bobbing behind us in the distance. Dawn arrived as the three guys behind us caught up (because we stopped to checkout the map to make sure we didn't miss the turn off to Gem Lakes). They knew where they were going because they had bailed off the North Arete a couple weeks earlier and were back for revenge (which they apparently didn't get). We ended up hiking the next stretch with them until our routes diverged above Dade Lake.
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The first view of the Mountain ('cause it was dark eariler and we couldn't see it during the Alpen Glow period):
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Looking back down toward Gem Lakes as we headed toward Dade Lake (we saw a couple of Pine Martens around here, but I was too slow with the camera):
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The wind was blowing, so it was surprising cold. We hurried to get into the sun.
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Looking back at Dade Lake:
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Aha! Warmth!
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We stopped here for a bit to have a snack and bask in the sun's glowing warming glow. As we rested, we noticed a couple of people heading around the lake toward us (one had a bright orange jacket). Meanwhile, we gazed at the mountain...
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And looked out for the descent route...
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Soon we were heading up the talus toward the col to get on the route proper.
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As we neared the low point in the ridge, the two people we had seen earlier were catching up to us. Then suddenly, "If you kick any rocks down on me, I'm going to kick your pygmy butt back to Sacramento!"

I'll let Toxo fill in the rest of this part, but it turned out to be Moosetracks and her friend Jim. We ended up climbing with them and hanging out all day. From there we headed up to the route and got our scramble on.
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The NE ridge starts out as 3rd class...
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Up to the first tower...
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Then the climbing begins...
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But it's all good. This is supposed to be the cruxy part, but it was basically hard 3rd/easy 4th. Nothing that seemed to need a rope.
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Looking back down as we continued to climb higher:
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Little Lakes Valley:
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More scrambling...
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Gaining altitude:
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Getting closer to the summit ridge:
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And above the North Arete:
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We opted for some spicy variants.
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And admired the exposure.
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Finally nearing the summit ridge (just when you think you're getting there, this mountain keeps throwing curve balls, which is fine because the scrambling was awesome the whole time!).
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Still plenty of exposure:
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After meandering around on the ridge crest for a while...
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We finally found the ledges on the west side we were supposed to be on. Then we sat for a bit to eat a snack and chat before heading up the 4th class to the summit area...
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The actual summit block is supposedly unprotectable 5.6. Piece of cake...
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Maybe we should rename this peak "Beer Creek Spire".
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Summit views:
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After hanging around the summit block for a while, we headed back the way we came...
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And started thinking about the long haul back to the car...
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Not really though, the views were too enjoyable...
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Toxo ponders the 4th class descent from the summit area...
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While I ponder the Feather Couloir...
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Then down we go...
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Moosie and Jim lose us on the way down (did I mention that Toxo and I are really slow?) and wave goodbye as they pass through the notch and out of sight.
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We eventually hit the notch...
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Looking back at the summit from the notch:
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The North Arete:
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The descent from the notch was probably the scariest part of the climb: loose rocks and dirt on 3rd and 4th class terrain:
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But we made it through mostly unscathed. At least the views of the mountain are nice.
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As we slogged down through the talus, we saw the 3 guys we talked to in the morning rapping from the North Arete (apparently in retreat). As we neared Dade Lake, there was a huge crash and we turned around to see a cloud of dust in the air near the arete: Huge Rockfall!
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We could see one of the guys, but we stopped for bit until the other two popped up over the bulge to make sure we didn't need to help/get help. They were okay, but the rockfall seemed to have been from where they had just come from. Although we didn't actually talk to them again, I bet they were pretty shaken (I know I would have been).

We hit Dade Lake and I almost went swimming, but I decided I'd rather be back to the car before dark.
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The last view of Bear Creak Spire towering over Dade Lake...
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Then we descended past Treasure Lakes instead of the way we came up and hit the car before dark. It was a good day.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:09 pm 
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Bumpin bumpin, like that Kreayshawn masterpiece.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:38 pm 
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What's funny, is I got that song stuck in my head.

We're going when there will be much more snow, me thinks.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:10 pm 
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You know why the guise doing the Arete bailed the day we were there?

It was too cold, even at the end of summer. It's really shady.

The massive rockfall from the Arete was hella scary.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:03 pm 
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Great TR! One of the best pictorials I've seen of that route actually. Now I'm doubly stoked to go.

I remember Laura telling me about that day; sounded grand.

Some of the pics and descriptions remind me a little of NR of LPP, especially that purported cruxy part on the ascent.

The crappy descent part sounds like near neighbor Abbot to me, at least the section between the chute and the ridge.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:05 pm 
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toxo wrote:
You know why the guise doing the Arete bailed the day we were there?

It was too cold, even at the end of summer. It's really shady.

The massive rockfall from the Arete was hella scary.


Heard on the cold. I actually prefer it that way - good training. Luckily the climbing isn't that stout, so you can get away with frozen fangers.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:07 pm 
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Oh, also, I have the same eyes for Feather Couloir. Another listee.

Speaking of giant rock fall, early September last year, we were coming down from Agassiz back to our camp at Bishop Lakes--Laura's friend was up there; can't remember his name; part of the Sierra Challenge crowd--and there was an absolutely titanic rock fall several miles away; somewhere in the area of Johnson or Gilbert or something; hard to tell. But the dust cloud was so enormous that it looked like smoke from a fire, and it filled the whole cirque, and slowly rose far, far in to the sky. It stopped everyone in their tracks, and we were several miles away. Never seen anything quite like it.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:12 pm 
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Dr. Poedtke wrote:
Heard on the cold. I actually prefer it that way - good training. Luckily the climbing isn't that stout, so you can get away with frozen fangers.


I also have this weird attraction to the cold. Same trip I mentioned above from Agassiz, another partner and I went up Thunderbolt the day before, and there was verglas all over the place once you exit the chute, and it was pretty cold; no sun at all except at the summit block. He was having problems with his hands, and I think feet a little too. I was really enjoying that aspect of it though. The slippery verglas part was NOT enjoyable though. Otherwise benign low angle slabs became death ramps.

Like an idiot, I went for a swim in that lake by Chocolate Peak on the day out. Holy fucking shit that was cold.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:22 pm 
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Donner Kebab Party wrote:
Oh, also, I have the same eyes for Feather Couloir. Another listee.


Yeah, looks incredible.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:45 pm 
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Donner Kebab Party wrote:
Like an idiot, I went for a swim in that lake by Chocolate Peak on the day out. Holy fucking shit that was cold.

I need to go up to that high lake somewhere in the distant vicinity around Whitney sometime for a swim. Right now my record for swimming is 11,300 ft in the highest of the Sphinx Lakes (and by swimming, I mean getting in the water and staying there, none of that pussy jump in, get out immediately shit). Haven't really had my heart in it for a few years though. I need to swim more this spring/summer/fall.

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