Cheba Spire

Wed, Aug 9, 2023

With: Chris Henry
Dylan Doblar
Sean King
Tom Grundy
Clement Guillaume
Jonathan Mason
Sean Casserly
Zee Chunawala
Iris Ma
Todd Lyster
Mike Toffey

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


This was probably the summit I was most looking forward to on the 2023 Sierra Challenge. We had close to 20 folks at the South Lake TH for a 6a start, pretty popular for mid-week. We spent the first hour mostly in the cool shade on the Bishop Pass Trail and then the Treasure Lakes Trail. Some of us, myself included, thought we were being clever taking the lower shortcut on the Bishop Pass Trail, but after regaining the Bishop Pass Trail higher up, we quickly realized we had missed the junction for Treasure Lakes. Probably cost us an extra half mile of travel - doh! We left the Treasure Lakes Trail around the 10,400-foot mark and began climbing about 800ft of granite slabs in the sunshine, getting mauled by mosquitoes. Even the light breeze did nothing to quell them. I ended up getting out my netting for my head. We crossed a rounded shoulder low on the NE Ridge of Mt. Gilbert, then crossed a drainage to the WNW, between us and Cheba Spire, about 2/3mi distance. Crossing the creek proved challenging and I ended up with partially wet boots. Then more slabs, lots of boulders, some scrub pine forest, climbing higher to the SE side of Cheba Spire. Most folks went up one of several steep chutes on SE side, which would prove to be the best way to the top. I went around to the south side, above the half-frozen unnamed lakes on that side, trying to work my way up and around to the north side where *I thought* the easiest route would be found. This became a several hour-long odyssey exploring several chutes on the SW side of Cheba Spire. I got quite high, within about 150 horizontal feet of the summit, but was stymied by difficult scrambling above me. I heard many voices and saw several participants working their way to the highest pinnacle above me, but try as I might, I could find no way up from my side. I did manage to get to the saddle just west of the summit and explored around the corner for a short while, but again, the going was well above my grade. Others at the summit could see me below, but they could do nothing to help me in my predicament.

I eventually called it a day and went back down the convoluted route I'd taken up that side of the mountain. Once down at the bottom, I had no will nor energy to go up the SE side, and simply followed my original route back down the mountain. As I made my way back to the base of the SE side, I came across a cache of climbing gear, evidently abandoned by one of the participants due to the weight. I heard later that several others did similarly with ropes they carried. It was a good thing it turned out to be a scrambling route in the end. It was warm out, but pleasant enough now that I had gravity on my side. I saw or heard no one all the way back down to the trail. Shortly after landing on the Treasure Lakes Trail, Dylan came jogging by and we exchanged a few quick words before he continued his way down. He was the only other partipant I would see before returning to the South Lake TH just after 1p. There were half a dozen others that had beaten me back, most of whom had summited, I believe. They reported it as a class 4 to low 5th effort up the primary route. I will have to come back again at some future time to try again - there should be enough GPX tracks posted to help me find my way. :-)


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Mon Aug 21 11:18:36 2023
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: