|Classic thunderhead approaching Cecile Lake.|
|Getting ready to leave the North Palisade bivy on a clear but windy and cold morning.|
A little research in RJ Secor's Peaks, Passes, and Trails told me that Peak 12,563 is sometimes called "Bear Claw Spire", that it had a spectacular summit block, and that the route was first climbed by Galen Rowell. These facts on top of the fun we had on Two Eagle were enough to pique my interest.
I got a far from alpine start at 9am from the Pine Creek trailhead. Hiking up that trail is usually a hot dusty affair, and this time was no different. By the time I got to Upper Pine Lake the altitude and building clouds made the temperatures much more pleasant for hiking. From Honeymoon Lake to Golden Lake was fairly easy cross-country travel and soon I was getting a good look at the ridge. I have few photos from the day as the forecast and building clouds had me feeling some time pressure.
The bottom of the ridge features some fairly steep cliffs. These looked a little harder than 5.6 and certainly harder than I wanted to climb solo and in approach shoes, so I started left of the toe of the ridge at an area with several inviting cracks. Fun 5th class climbing up to about 5.6 led to the ridge top after a while. From here I crossed over to the right side and followed some 3/4th class ledge systems to get back on the ridge top. Staying generally on top of the ridge with the occasional 5th class section led up to the summit block. This was spectacular, as promised, and required a few 5.6 or so moves on very high quality granite.
The summit featured great views back into Pine Creek Canyon and down to the Owens Valley, south toward Four Gables, and a front row seat on Feather, Royce, an Merriam Peaks. Walking off down the west side of the peak was pretty casual. Though the rock had some of the potato-chip flakiness of rarely traveled alpine granite, the underlying rock quality was really good. If you're comfortable at the grade and have some alpine rock experience, this route could be a great adventure.
|If you go the summit register could use a new container, notebook, and pencil.|