After an early season recon trip with much postholing (and cursing), conditions on Bear Creek Spire were finally optimal. I convinced Jascha to ditch work and join me on the NE Ridge.
We got our usual non-alpine start and found the Mosquito Flat trailhead choked with cars. The clutch on my Mini (with less than 30K miles) decided to stick to the floor, so Jascha and a few other good Samaritans helped me push it into a parking spot. We figured it was mostly downhill to Bishop, so I could hobble down after our climb if needed. I tried to ignore the fact that I had just spent $1200+ a week or so prior on the car getting a new BST cable, which malfunctioned causing all of my electrical connections to intermittently cut out. A guy in the parking lot suggested that the clutch might be hydraulic and it just needed to cool down. Jascha pulled the clutch pedal up and it stayed, so it didn't seem like a broken cable.
We decided to take the Morgan Pass route (v. Treasure Lakes), but we ended up turning off early at Gem Lakes. It was still a bit hazy from the current wildfires, but it didn't detract from the strikingly blue alpine lakes. We skirted Dade Lake and headed up to the basin below BCS, taking time to admire the N Arete. Once at the base of the route Jascha had a brief bout with nausea. It didn't linger long enough to be AMS and he decided to keep going. We were almost at the good part anyway.
The climb steepened and we motored up the class 4 and easy 5 cracks to the place where the N Arete and NE Ridge routes meet. We traversed toward the summit block and looked for an interesting way up. Jascha found a short, but featureless crack into which was wedged an 8-10" chockstone. I scrambled up (admittedly using the rock) hoping the chockstone wouldn't give especially once I found that I would have to mantle on a grovelly, gravel-laden shelf. Jascha made it up behind me and we headed up for the final obstacle - a few class 4 moves on the summit block proper. On the top we scoped out the E Arete and the traverse from Julius Caesar.
We descended via the Morgan Pass route and found the parking lot mostly empty. I wondered whether I would have to use AAA to tow my car yet again. The clutch appeared to be working again and we made it back to Bishop.
The next day the clutch started sticking again, and it finally gave it entirely when I tried to drive it up on our makeshift 2 x 8" & concrete block ramp. Fortunately, it turned out to be a faulty seal in the plastic hydraulic clutch slave cylinder (interestingly, I noticed a number of online accounts about Mini clutches going out at under 30K miles), which was both easily accessible and cheap. None of the local chain auto parts stores seemed to be able to order this part for me, so I had to order it from a specialty Mini parts supplier. With Jascha's technical oversight I removed the old one. After 1.5 weeks I am still waiting for this stupid part. Thankfully I have a backup vehicle, albeit one with two wheels.