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North America, United States, California—Sierra Nevada, Bear Creek Spire, Complete East Ridge

Bear Creek Spire, Complete East Ridge. From the air, this long knife-edged arête is one of the most spectacular features in the entire range. In August John Martinek and I spent a very long day on this 22-pitch route with an overall rating of Grade IV, 5.8. The climb is not mentioned in early editions of The Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra, but is listed as “enjoyable and lengthy … moderate class 5 … first ascent unknown” in the 1976 edition. A little investigation showed that the source of this listing was someone who thought that someone else knew someone who had climbed it. I talked to one of these “someones” who had it on his own list of new routes to do! In retrospect, the guidebook entry was entirely accurate: the route was lengthy, enjoyable, fifth class, and the first ascent was indeed unknown.

Galen Rowell