Bear Creek Spire Trip Report

Last weekend I returned to the high Sierra to climb Bear Creek Spire, Mount Gabb, and Mount Abbot in the Rock Creek basin. All three peaks are over 13,700 ft. We first ascended Bear Creek Spire via Ulrich’s route (standard). We hiked up Little Lakes Valley from the Mosquito Flats trailhead early Saturday morning, departing the parking area at 6:10 am. The reflections on the lakes were amazing (Marsh Lake below).

Marsh Lake

We made great time through the ascent up to Cox Col. Just before Cox Col, the snow slopes turned very soft causing deep post-holing and slowing us down. We eventually made the col and swiftly made our way up to the class 4 section near the summit. The rock was solid and the 4th class moves were fun. We reached the final summit block of Bear Creek Spire at 11 am and each took turns climbing the block and taking pictures of each other. It was exhilerating to stand on this summit pinnacle and feel the exposure!

Summit of Bear Creek Spire

After enjoying the views on Bear Creek Spire, we descended into the Lake Italy basin and found running water on the slopes below Gabb pass and some nice bivy spots on granite benches. After some rest, I set out to climb Gabb peak at 2:30 pm. The post-holing up to the base of the mountain was annoying, and the steep 3rd class terrain for over 1,300 feet was draining. I dug deep and reached the summit at 4:10 pm. I enjoyed the late afternoon views for 30 minutes and then descended, arriving back to the bivy spot at 5:30 pm.

After a nice night under the stars, we set out to climb the southwest chute of Mount Abbot at 7 am. Firm snow conditions made for excellent cramponing conditions up the chute. The climax of the climb was a short 50+ degree couloir of snow with a cornice at the top. We topped out at 9 am. We enjoyed the views from the summit of Abbot and then set off on the descent down the North Couloir route at 10 am. The descent proved to be very tedious as loose rock was interspersed with sugary snow (the eastern aspect of the mountain has early sun exposure which causes the snow to be soft). After reaching the North Couloir proper with good runout, we glissaded down to the down the cirque where the snow became more consolidated. A gorgeous walk down the cirque by Lake Mills and Ruby Lake brought us to the trail and we completed the loop back to the trailhead, arriving at the car at 12:45 pm.

It was another great weekend in the high Sierra. The loop trip worked out great and the climbs were very fun and interesting.


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