Bear Creek Spire Family Mountaineering

A strenuous 5.5 climb up an iconic high Sierra peak. Or: How to get on an REI ad.

I know. This blog is supposed to be family adventures and some of them are just darn difficult. Well, everyone doesn’t have to do everything, and my hope that adventures like this one can inspire those that can’t quite get it done into doing something similar, if a little easier. And if you can get it done, hopefully I can show you some epic stuff to do.

Camping at Dade Lake

Bear Creek Spire is mostly 3rd and 4th class scrambling with a few harder moves thrown in with some guidebooks saying low fifth and others saying 5.4. I’d go with the 5.4 since a few times you are not quite sure of where the route is. The top pitch is a tad scary (obviously, from the photos) but also most exhilarating. I know some readers are saying right now, “no way in a million years would I take my kids up there”. I understand. However when I think about it, my son got hurt three times skiing, broken bones each time – once seriously. He never did get hurt climbing.

Unfortunately the descent is very loose and steep and not speedy, so schedule in time for that. You may need to wander a bit to find the route down through loose talus. For details on the climb you try “High Sierra Climbs”, the SuperTopo guide on High Sierra Climbs or www.mountainproject.com.

Betsy and I have done this as a one-day trip car-to-car but with the kids we backpacked up to Dade lake as used that as a base camp. It is an absolutely beautiful hike up Little Lakes valley to Dade lake, though I remember having some very heavy backpacks since we had lots of our kid’s climbing stuff too.

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