Alpenglow sunrise on Bear Creek Spire. Note all of the blue ice at the base.
Northeast Ridge of Bear Creek Spire (II-III, 5.5).
East Ridge of Bear Creek Spire (IV, 5.8).
Upper section of the East Ridge of Bear Creek Spire (IV, 5.8).
East Face of Bear Creek Spire. The long East Ridge is on the left skyline (IV, 5.8) while the NE Ridge is on the right skyline (II-III, 5.5).
Nic enjoying a sunny breakfast break at the saddle beneath the NE Ridge.
Traversing beneath the East Face of Bear Creek Spire.
Looking over at the entry to the East Ridge. Take the left notch in the white rock.
Projecting block on the East Ridge.
Soloing the first chimney.
Nic soloing up the second chimney (5.6ish?). He was trailing his pack and got it stuck here . . .
And pulled too hard! Goodbye daypack.
Traversing aroud the south side of the first tower.
Reaching the first belayed pitch, which climbs the tower on the right and threads into and up the chimney, and into a narrow gully behind.
Looking down the tower.
Threading the chimney.
Threading the chimney, climbing above the chockstones inside to reach the gully.
After the gully, I climbed this second interesting chimney. Back-to-foot one way, then switching 90 degrees to use the pillar.
Reaching the ridge crest and starting the long simul-climbing section.
Nic riding the rib belay as I lead out on the first long section of simul-climbing after the first pitch.
Simul-climbing up the ridge. This turns into a knife edge, then a notch, before traversing up into the ledgy ramp system angling back left on the cliff face above.
Nic following on the simul-climb.
Another chimney chockstone framing the sky.
Looking back at Nic and the draped ropework while simul-climbing.
Reaching a notch and another headwall. (by Nic Risser)
Reaching the headwall. You climb out and right onto broken ledges the work back left on a bit of a ledgy ramp system. It is easier than it looks.
Traversing back up and left on the ledgy ramp system.
Looking back at Nic following along the knife edge. Lots of running pro!
Mark running it out on one of the headwalls we encountered. (by Nic Risser)
Climbing up easy ramps. (by Nic Risser)
Looking back down towards the notch as I climbed up the ledgy ramp system.
Nearing the top of the ledgy ramp system. I was worried this roof would block us, but a way presents itself around to the left.
First big tower along the ridge. I was looking for a way to climb up it when Nic suggested just traversing around right on the cl. 2 talus. That seemed so easy it was hard to pass up! I think for more brownie points we should have stayed closer to the ridge crest here.
Traversing around right on cl. 2 boulders. I did a short bit of low 5th class up the slabs on the left before it eased back to cl. 2-3.
Two more large barriers ahead on the ridge.
Traversing along on cl. 2-3 slabs.
Looking back down at Nic about to start the cl. 5 slabs.
Nearing the big notch, where we couldn't resist cutting right again, but could have had more fun staying on the crest. I think the official crux of the route is somewhere up there.
After the big notch, scrambling back up towards the ridge crest, which kept climbing above us! This part was mostly cl. 2, with a cl. 3-4 headwall.
Mt Morgan, Little Lakes Pk, Rosy Finch, and Pyramid Pk
Mt Morgan and Little Lakes Peak, climbed by the classic SW Ridge in the foreground. Rosy Finch Pk is more in the foreground.
Nearing the ridge crest, where the rock became sustained low 5th class with occasional harder bits.
Almost back on the ridge crest! But immediately we reached another impasse that forced us out right.
Looking back at Nic following through low 5th class terrain a we simul-climbed. The occasional snow and loose rock, coupled with the exposure, made the rope nice even though it was mostly very easy.
Back on the ridge crest at last! This last part of 'Picket Fence' climbing was difficulty to keep easy, and to manage rope drag.
This last part of 'Picket Fence' climbing was difficult to keep easy, and to manage rope drag.
Looking back at Nic on the Picket Fence section of the ridge. This part was difficult to routefind, and to avoid rope drag.
Following the knife-edged ridge to the summit! (by Nic Risser)
Looking south towards Bear Claw Peak (foreground, left), Spire Peak (foreground, center), Merriam Peak (background left), Royce Peak (background center) and Feather Peak (right).
Feather Peak and its sadly melty-looking Feather Couloir.
Looking back as we simuled to the right of the ridge crest again on 5th class terrain. It was tough staying on the crest!
Final ridge section to the summit.
Ridge leading to Julius Caesar and Apollo.
Nic following the final part of the East Ridge as we neared the summit.
Looking down the East Ridge as we neared the summit.
xx Peak seen from the summit of Bear Creek Spire.
Ruby Wall peeking out.
Nic atop the 5.6R summit block. After all of the 'low 5th' simul-climbing that we did on the ridge, this didn't really stand out - I wouldn't have noticed it in comparison to a lot of other moves!
Summit Register - Ours
Rabid, hungry animal breaking into the Bear Lockers.
Big Nic sporting his alpine chimney trad pants look.
If it's on a beer can, you gotta climb it!