Peak 12,470' (AKA "Spire Peak", AKA "Bearpaw Spire") is a sharp, impressive peak adjacent to Royce Pass, between Pine Creek Pass and Italy Pass. Though there is an easy route up the south face, the final summit blocks are class 4 and somewhat exposed. Though the easiest route gains the summit via a sand chute, much of the south face is composed of clean, solid granite steps, making for fun class 3 scrambling. The steep northwest face overlooks Granite Park along the Italy Pass Trail.
From Highway US-395 in Bishop, drive approx. 10 miles north to the turn-off to Rovana. Drive west through Rovana and up Pine Creek Canyon to the Pine Creek trailhead. Hike up the trail to where the Italy Pass Trail goes north. Follow the Italy Pass Trail to a flat area of slabs and meadows just past Honeymoon Lake.
For the south face and southwest ridge, eave the trail and head west up to Royce Pass. Cross into the Royce Lakes Basin and hike west between Lake 11,725' and the base of the peak.
For the northwest face and northeast ridge, continue up the Italy Pass Trail into Granite Park and head up into the basin containing Lake 11,400'+, which lies below the northwest face.
For day hikes, no permit required. For overnight stays, obtain a free wilderness permit at the White Mountain Ranger Station, 798 North Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514. Phone number is 760-873-2500. Permits may be reserved in advance for $5 per person. Though walk-in permits are still free, the visitor quota for this trailhead is often filled.
When To Climb
Best season is early June to mid October. Earlier than June, use skis to approach. November to January may have some snow, but not enough to ski.
Best camping is on a hill overlooking Golden Lake, just southeast of Royce Pass, and below the east face of the peak. More exposed camping can be had near the Royce Lakes and anywhere on the approach up to Royce Pass. The campsites near Honeymoon Lake are nice, but can be crowded.
The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails
2nd ed. (R. J. Secor) - P 320 - Listed as "Peak 12,470ft+"