Bear Spray

Route Name: Bear Spray 

Rock Formation: Bear Creek Spire

Number of bolts to be placed:  6 lead bolts, 2 bolt anchor

Route Difficulty: 5.12


 Route Description:

The proposed route ascends the west face of Bear Creek Spire, near the southwest corner of the formation. It begins on an obvious chunky section of high-quality rock through 5.7 climbing reaching an immaculate but short water polished slab that contains a massive jug rail. From here, you reach a vertical to gently overhanging section of a beautiful lichen-stricken wall. The climber must use an ear shaped hold 3 feet above the jug rail and stand up to a left thumb catch followed by two crimps at my max reach (5’9 neutral ape index). From this position, you begin the boulder crux of the route featuring the best rock quality and involves stepping up into tenuous small feet, an immaculate finger pad under cling, big compression side pulls out right, all leading to a massive jug rail that can be thrown for or statically climbed to. From here the climber trends slightly up and right over a bulge and then directly upwards through moderate obvious terrain with big features until deposited in a large v-notch. From here, the redpoint crux begins until the end of the route. This involves trending up and right over a first bulge to hidden slopers and crimps, continuing upwards toward a broken crack feature and trending left and up over a final bulge until reaching the jug rail arete that leads rightward to the top of the wall where the anchor will be located.


A description of existing routes on the same face of the rock formation, including the number of routes, route names, route grade, type, and approximate distance between routes (a photocopy or diagram of the existing route(s) is also required):

  1. There are no existing routes on the west face of the Bear Creek Spire. There is one short route on the north arete, about 500 ft away from the proposed route. There is also a route on the east face of the formation.

     North Face – 5.6 

    Northeast Corner – 5.5

A description of the approach (include approximate distance from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails leading to the climb and condition of the trail, and state whether there is a durable surface, such as rock.  

Approach from the NCAR parking lot and hike to Dinosaur Rock via the Mallory Cave Trail. At the turnoff for routes like The Shaft and Milkbone, continue straight passing a couple permanent seasonal closure signs and staying in view of the southeast side of Dinosaur Rock for roughly 200 feet trending right. This section of trail is obvious and looks like a trafficked social trail. Stay right following a social trail that aims toward the slabby rock formation just behind the backside of Dinosaur Rock. This will deposit you at a hidden overhanging gully that is filled with broken boulders and loose trail – turn left and follow the gully down. This gully is the ideal approach since it avoids surrounding vegetation and is a natural path over approachable rock until you reach the bottom. Head down the gully for 150 feet and continue downward into the obvious scree field as Bear Creek Spire begins on your left.

It is recommended to stay right coming down from the top of the upper scree field, hugging the west side and navigating small to massive boulders, some buried at the edge of the tree line, until you arrive at two large boulders directly across from the route which make an ideal staging area. The upper and lower scree fields are loose and potentially dangerous if not careful. This is why taking the west side as you navigate downwards is recommended and allows the climber to hike on firm and secure boulders that mix with the tree line for a more solid and secure path while avoiding knocking loose rocks which could potentially cascade.

Although not necessary, this section of scree field hugging the Bear Creek Spire could use some directional trail work that would highly improve the access, protect natural vegetation and resources, and provide a safer and clearer access and exit to the formation. In the meantime, Cairns can be placed if appropriate to inform the climber of the safest and cleanest path to follow.

If different from the approach, a description of the descent, (include approximate distance from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails, a description of the trail condition and whether there is a durable surface, such as rock.  Include photographs of the descent.):

Climbers descend by lowering off the route with a 60-meter rope. There is not a different approach or exit.


Staging area:

A description of the area at the base of the climb (include existing levels of soil compaction, existence of a durable surface such as rock, and existing soil erosion.  Include photographs of the area at the base of the climb.):

The area at the base of the route is filled with loose half-dollar to milk jug sized boulders that provide a stable and level area for the Climber and Belayer to get established and manage the rope. There is a clear massive boulder that is firmly in place running under this staging area providing stability with small rocks filling in over top creating a naturally level landing pad. This specific area is secure and not in character with the looser and steeper scree just north or south.

Has all reconnaissance work that can be reasonably done, short of placing any hardware, been done?

Yes. My partner and I have been to the top of the formation, setup a top rope, cleaned and climbed the proposed route, and done the same for another potential route and variation link-up just to the right.

Has the route been top roped?  Is there loose rock?  Is it extremely overhanging?

The route has been top roped and climbed from bottom to top. Loose rock may still exist in places, but much of it along the climber’s path has been removed and all of the obvious holds and features are secure and of high quality. The route begins with a vertical to gently overhanging crux at the proposed 2nd bolt featuring the hardest moves on the route with the cleanest and most bomber rock. From here the route begins to steepen. At the halfway point approximately at the proposed 4th bolt, the route becomes overhanging to 70- 80 degrees while surmounting a couple of back-to-back bulges until reaching the top.


Any additional notes:



5 replies
  1. Adam Block
    Adam Block says:

    I think we’ve all seen this formation catching the evening light nicely. Would be great to have some overflow routes in this grade for Dino. Does the city not want a trail through Bear Canyon?

    • Michael LaDue
      Michael LaDue says:

      Approaching through Bear Canyon is actually not much shorter than approaching from NCAR, surprisingly. The trail would go along the creek, and is extremely overgrown with poison ivy for much of the year. The NCAR / Dinosaur approach is much easier and more pleasant overall.


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