Bear Creek Spire, Mount Gabb, Mount Abbot - Various Date:
Last weekend I returned to the high Sierra to climb Bear Creek Spire (13,720 ft), Mount Gabb (13,741 ft), and Mount Abbot (13,704 ft) in Rock Creek basin. The plan was to make it a loop trip, going over the crest at Cox Col via Little Lakes Valley and coming back by carrying over Mount Abott to Ruby Lake. The first objective was Bear Creek Spire via Ulrich's route. 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.
We made great time through the ascent up the valley to Dade Lake at the foot of Bear Creek Spire. We continued up the slopes to Cox Col, where higher up the snow slopes turned very soft with some deep post-holing slowing us down.
Nearing Cox Col
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
Sweet view of Merriam, Royce, and Feather Peaks.
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 a challenge. 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.
View from the summit of Mount Gabb with Lake Italy below.
Evening light on Mount Dade.
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.
Mount Gabb from the start of the SW Chute on Mount Abbot.
The climax of the SW Chute climb was a short and narrow 50+ degree couloir of snow with a cornice at the top.
Looking back at the final snow couloir from the summit of Mount Abbot. We topped out at 9 am. Panorama from summit of Mount Abbot
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 bottom of the cirque where the snow became more consolidated.
A gorgeous walk down the cirque by Mills Lake 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.
The Rock Creek area was another beautiful section of the high Sierra. The awesome views gave me plenty of ideas for future climbs. Gear Notes:
Axe, crampons Approach Notes:
Trail in good shape with patches of snow in the upper Little Lakes Valley. Snow consolidated in the valley, but soft and sugary (deep post-holing)on the higher and steeper Eastern facing slopes.