Bugaboo Link-up and Squamish Fun. - Date:
Better late than never right?
My computer self destructed while I was in BC and I have finally gotten it back from the manufacturer with my all my pictures fortunately still intact. I don’t know why I waited so long to put up my first TR but I posted this one to share with you my favorite day in the mountains…so far. Plus some other fun stuff.
My favorite day in the mountains included five Bugaboo Classics. McTech Arete(III 6p 5.10a 500ft), NE ridge of Bugaboo(IV 5.8 12p 1410ft), Beckey Chouinard on S Howser(V 5.10 22p 2600ft), West Ridge of Pigeon(II 5.4 610ft), Kraus-McCarthy(IV 5.9 8p 574ft)
With my usual climbing partners too busy for a longer trip I headed up to Squamish August 15th by myself. The plan was to find a quality climbing partner and then head over to the Bugaboos. As luck would have it I ran into a whole crew of great folks who are fellow NOLS instructors. Some highlights from the first week were… sailing on my parents boat.
Ben and Dane chilling on the boat. (Picture by Rainbow)
The Crew.(Rainbow pic)
Rainbow the interim Captain.
The real Captains of the boat, my wonderful parents.
Something I need to do sometime...
Deep( at least I think) cold water soloing.
Evan Horn working the traverse.
The crack here was a great 5.11-ish climb that was hardest near the top.
Evan and Jaime waiting to pick me up if I fall.(Rainbow)
So glad that my feet did not slip off the polished rock. Best way off was to top out.
Climbing Starchek(4p 5.9) above a raging river near Cheakamus.
Evan cruxing on the 5.6 slab.
Me at the top of the 3rd pitch.
Freeway(5.11d 10p) with Ben Venter.
Then off to the Bugaboos.
Rainbow Weinstock and Dane were on a mission to go climb the Beckey Chouinard before Dane had to get his WFR recert. I tagged along and convinced Rainbow to stay with me after Dane took off if the weather still looked good. Unfortunately that meant we would not have a ride back but we decided to worry about that later.
We arrived and started off our trip by making our porcupine barricade to keep the critters from chewing on anything rubber i guess.
Though we did it anyway I have a suspicion that the chicken wire industry cooked up this scheme. There was enough chicken wire to safely porcupine proof more cars than will ever be in the parking lot.
We hiked in up the short steep trail to the Kain Hut
and then continued on to the Pigeon Howser Col where we were caught in a storm and made a quick bivy.
On our way up the glacier to the Pigeon Howser col right before getting hammered.
The weather cleared and the next day Rainbow and Dane completed their mission by climbing the Beckey-Chouinard in great style after a late morning(10am or so) start to let the rock dry. Meanwhile I climbed the West ridge of Pigeon Spire on my own. Giggling to myself about how much fun it was climbing 5.4 on the amazing ridges of Pigeon I immediately fell in love with the Bugaboos.
The West Ridge is the right skyline as seen from the summit of Bugaboo.
pics of the W Ridge from some folks I traded cameras with.
The next day we set up camp at Applebee a ¼ mile above the Kain Hut.
Rainbow with a couple of climbers from back in the day who live in Leavenworth.
Wolfgang on the left used to guide in Europe and the name of the other guy who has climbed a number of great routes in the cascades escapes me but they were both a pleasure to talk to.
Bugaboo Spire framed by the window of the outhouse.
Looking down on the Kain Hut from Applebee.
$5 a night for Applebees versus $20 per night at the Kain Hut equals an easy decision for me. If you can afford it the Kain Hut is pretty plush and the caretakers were great knowledgeable hosts when we stopped by to socialize.
The man himself. Conrad Kain.
An interesting fact about Kain is that he is credited with the first recorded use of a sloper on the 1st ascent of the Kain route on Bugaboo Spire in 1916.
Me getting humbled by chess master Rainbow.
Dane took off and over the next few days Rainbow and I climbed a couple of great routes.
Paddle Flake Direct(III 6p 5.10).
Surfs Up on Snowpatch (III 9p 5.9).
Best belay ledge ever.
NE Ridge of Bugaboo(IV 12p 5.8).
The approach to Bugaboo. (Rainbow pic)
Low fifth class slabs leading up to the first pitch.
Starting up pitch 6 off of the big ledge.
On the North Summit.
Rainbow being way cooler than me.
Traversing the exposed and exciting ridge over towards the South Summit.
Looking down at the lower half of the Kain route and Snowpatch Spire.
The Bugaboos lend themselves to link-ups rather well and after doing the NE Ridge to Surfs Up we decided we could go way bigger. Our plan was to retrace Crofts original link-up with the addition of Pigeon Spire… and ropes.
We had both climbed the NE Ridge of Bugaboo as well as the West Ridge of Pigeon and Rainbow had climbed the Becky-Chouinard before so we were familiar with some of the routes and good ways to connect them.
On August 27th or some day close to it Rainbow and I left Applebees campground at 4:30am (or so we thought) and made the quick trek to the base of McTech. I had trouble picking out where McTech started, but eventually climbed up what looked the most promising and it ended up leading me to the corner belay. I continued out left through the beautiful second pitch and belayed Rainbow up as our worlds became more than what we could see by our headlamps. After a quick belay transfer Rainbow linked the next two splitter pitches together and I linked the last ones taking us to the top. 3rd class climbing brought us across the rocky col in between Crescent Spire and Bugaboo spire. As we walked up the slabs we saw one party in front of us.
We soloed the approach pitches and roped up at the base of the 5.8 pitch. The nice couple from San Francisco was happy to let us move through and snapped this picture right before we headed off.
As I was racking I asked Rainbow what time it was he replied that it was 6:30. The couple from San Francisco corrected us. It was 7:30. Apparently the Eastern half of BC is in a different time zone and just like that we lost an hour.
I led off the simul-climb linking the first five pitches together. Rainbow joined me at the ledge where we unroped and climbed up the low fifth class chimney system.
A short exposed rappel and some scrambling led us to the north Summit. Some more exposed ridge walking led us across and up to the South Summit.
The first time we climbed it we did a long rappel from an obvious notch. We then traversed on a dirty ledge and did a short pitch to regain the ridge right at the rappel from the top of the Gendarme on the Kain Route.
You can see the obvious v-shaped notch in the background.
To try something different we continued unroped around the North side of the South summit and climbed a fairly clean and a little icy 5.6ish variation that took us directly to the South Summit. Both times it worked well but both times we weren't exactly on route.
After talking to some other folks I guess the third option and most traveled one is a shorter rappel from the notch and then climbing up to the summit.
View from the South Summit of Bugaboo looking towards where we are headed next. The South Howser Tower is the one on the left opposite side of the col from Pigeon. The Beckey-Chouinard climbs up the opposite and much larger side.
To descend we did a lot of down-climbing interspersed with some rappelling when it seemed like it would be quicker. Down climbing the upper half of the Cain Route was enjoyable and the lower half was a long slog on sandy chossy ground with many different ways to go. Some invaluable beta is if ever you are in doubt head right. We reached the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col at 9:30 actual time, two hours after roping up on the other side.
After grabbing some snacks and making a toxic deposit into the barrel under the green throne we took off on the long slog to the S. Howser. It took us about an hour and a half to make it to the foot of the Beckey-Chouinard. The only point of the entire day that crampons would have been beneficial was a couple of short sections descending into East Creek Basin. Without them we took it slow, kicked in some steps and used rocks when necessary.
The approach slab to the BC goes on and on forever.
The South Howser is in the center with the Minaret to the right.
Northern, Central and South Howsers. These beautiful guys are what makes me want to come back the most.
The B-C pretty much goes right up the middle of this sucker.
After reaching the actual climbing we soloed the first three pitches and stopped to rope up at the base of the first 5.10 pitch around noon. I led this great and varied pitch and then Rainbow led the simul-charge up the amazing never ending hand crack in the corner for 6 pitches.
I led the next 5.10 off-width and then we linked pitches to the pendulum.
Rainbow tensioned around the corner and I followed free climbing a couple of tricky but not very difficult moves.
Here is Rainbow just after finishing the tension traverse.
One rappel and we un-roped and scrambled through some low 5th class terrain to the summit. Time around 4:30pm. There is a new rappel route that is pretty straight forward and you only need one 60m rope! The old rappel has been chopped so don’t bother.
Here Rainbow shows us how its done.
Here are some beta pics for the rappel and descent.
We ended up missing one of the anchors and combined the 25m rappel with the 15m one and did some finagling to make our 70m get us there.
The new rappel over the bergshrund is much more mellow than the old one.
We walked past some pretty impressive chunks of ice that had broken off from where the old rappel finished.
We walked over to pigeon and soloed up it quickly, feeling the cumulative burn in our calves.
We sat eating the last of our food and watching the sun slowly sink knowing that if we started the Kraus-McCarthy now we would be finishing in the dark. We didn't think about it too long. How often do you get to do this much climbing in a day? Might as well go for it. A few minutes later I found myself running towards Snowpatch trying to catch up with Rainbow and cursing the gear I had left on my harness that continuously slammed into my thighs.
We soloed up to where the climbing became more difficult and roped up.
Then it got dark very quickly.
Shortly after starting off on my first lead I was reduced to a little glowing ten foot orb of light. My first lead took me on a winding path and then through a wet roof and a slippery corner before the rope drag became too much for me to handle. I belayed Rainbow up and watched as he set off into the darkness. We each tried to take the pitches as far as we could, not really knowing where we were on the climb, or if we were on route at all. There was some climbing that felt fairly difficult in a thin left facing corner on the right on my last lead. Then Rainbow got the last, and quite difficult, lead of the day up through a squeeze chimney and some off-width with ample rope drag thrown in that took us to the top. Time: around 10:30pm. No time for celebration. We got right to the business of getting the hell off this chunk of rock. 8 rappels later we were wading through the moving choss-piles that were once held together by snow and ice towards the Pigeon Snowpatch col.
It would have been nice to drop right on down to Applebees via the infamous Bugaboo-Snowpatch col but the col was in very poor shape.
There was continuous debris both big and small crashing down the center where the trail went. I did not go up or down it all the entire time. While I was there two separate times people were injured by rock fall and those two people were a pretty solid percentage of the few foolish souls who ventured through it. Apparently it was way worse than normal but with the rapidly receding glaciers I would start getting used to not going up it late in season.
A quick comparison to what it usually looks like.
We begrudgingly took the much longer way and did the 7 rappels from the Pigeon-Snowpatch col.
The rappels are just on the other side of the icefall.
Soon we were slogging through more moving choss, ice and slabs on our way around Snowpatch.
Type 2 fun.
After rounding Snowpatch you can stay high above the waterfalls along a bench that cuts across to Applebee and bypasses the Kain Hut to save some time.
We took the high road and arrived back to our camp pretty well tuckered out but jubilant around 2am. We cooked up a feast and then promptly slept like we were dead after our 21 hour push.
I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime than Rainbow. Besides being a solid climbing partner he took amazing pics and cooked some mighty tasty dishes(despite the fact they were all vegan). And yes, that is his real name.
Disclaimer. Some of the pics from the NE Ridge of Bugaboo were taken when we climbed it a couple of days before. Also one of the pics of me on Pigeon was taken on our descent of the West Ridge after climbing the Cooper-Kor the day before we left.
Just my opinion, but I thought the Cooper-Kor(IV 18p 5.10) was at least equal to if not better than the NE Ridge of Bugaboo. We took the left 5.9 variation at the 5th pitch and it is some of the best climbing on the route. There is an unbelievable traverse on pitches 11 and 12 that Rainbow linked together without the tesion traverse. We did not actually see where you could do one but that is what the guidebook said. The traversing pitches go way further right and down than it appears in the topo. Eventually going around a corner and back up an improbable series of crimps and small features that felt fairly solid for 5.8 up to a fixed pin where the second tension traverse is. I freed the second pendulum which was some fairly thin 5.10 climbing on dicey slab to really fun cracks and a short steeper section at the end. The only downside to this route is the finish which winds its way through some sandy, chossy stuff up to the top. Wish I had some pictures of it but my batteries were dead.
Props to the bad-asses that put up this improbable line in 1960.
After climbing the Cooper-Kor we caught a ride with some great folks to Golden, BC. From there after about two minutes of waiting a pretty young lady from Quebec picked us up off the side of the road. We thanked her profusely and then told her it probably a bad idea to pick up two random guys off the side of the road even if they are as handsome and dashing as us. Kalaane was headed to Kelowna which is about halfway(5 hrs) to our destination of Squamish but by the time we got there we had convinced her that Vancouver was a much better destination. By the time we got to Vancouver we had coaxed her into driving up to Squamish in return for teaching her how to rock climb. Not a bad deal.
Kalaane crushing it on the sugarloaf.
Kalanne hung out with us for a couple days and then took off to take in some more sights in BC. Never have I had such a good hitch hiking experience.
We finished off our trip with countless hours in the Zephyr cafe and the Rec. Center while it rained quite often. We did get in some good multi-pitch climbs like the Great Game, Hungry Wolf, and the Grand Wall to the Roman Chimneys which I had always wanted to do.
More type 2 fun.
But mostly we finished up pushing our limits on some harder single pitch climbs when they were dry enough and meeting some wonderful people.
All in all this was easily one of my favorite trips. Hope you enjoyed it too. Gear Notes:
Gear notes for the link-up: #4-.3 Cams. Doubles in #2-.4. #2 and #1 C3s. 70m rope. Not as much food as I would have liked.
Due to the conditions and our path of travel we were able to safely leave the axe and crampons at camp.
I would however suggest properly rigging up for glacier travel on anything that goes up to or around Pigeon from the south. There were several snow bridge crossings that were starting to get more exciting, at least at the time of year we were there.