Bear Creek Spire

When I was in college and becoming involved in Sierra mountaineering I bought a copy of David Brower’s Sierra Club book, “Manual of Ski Mountaineering.” The book opened up a new world of possibilities for traveling and climbing in the high mountains in winter. I was fascinated.

The cover photo featured 13,713 foot Bear Creek Spire on the Sierra crest north of Bishop, centered at the head of Little Lakes Valley. Far below its cleaver-like crest and distinctive snow band two skiers toiled up an unbroken slope of white, tiny amid their grand surroundings. Behind them they were leaving a single, straight track in the snow, seeming to echo their possible thoughts: “Here I am in these awesome high mountain surrounings, really, physically here!”  It was a striking photo and one that I have remembered since.

This summer we again gazed at Bear Creek Spire from Little Lakes Valley. There it was, towering at the head of the valley, drawing my eyes and spirit to it, connecting with me once more.

From the divide between the Rock Creek drainage and that of Pine Creek to the south, a great rock rib curves smoothly upward and southward to the summit. It’s like a mother’s arm cradling the thousand foot central  face. The face itself starts vertically from the top, then levels off slightly in a steeply-sloping bench that holds snow in the winter and early summer. Below that point it curves steeply downward again, a single mass of smooth granite cut only by two short furrows high on the wall.

For the next few days we saw it from different angles: from the valley floor and from 12,000 foot Mono Pass across a pair of high basins. From the  high perspective of the pass it still stood straight and tall against the sky, drawing the eye and mind with its distinctive shape as it had from the valley.

There’s something about mountain grandeur and natural beauty that connects with my own spirit and being. Something of that mystery we call God which is in the natural world and something of God which is in each of us communicate–of course, since  each of us has been made part of this wide world to begin with! One God, one world which includes each of us, a wonderful whole. What a blessing to be part of this!


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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