Trip: Bugaboos - Beckey-Chouinard and Surfs Up Trip Date: 08/07/2018 Trip Report:
My wife and I took a quick trip to the Bugs last week, primarily to get on South Howser’s Beckey-Chouinard which has been on my dream list for years. We also climbed Snowpatch spire via Surfs Up. Both were great routes, and we had a blast! The crux was leaving the one year old at home with the grandparents, but I think that was just on our end. We were also lucky to have stellar weather and great travel conditions for the duration of our short trip, though I expect this to change very quickly. The Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col was melting fast, and may already be a bit sketchy from a rock fall perspective.
I won’t share a ton of beta, since it is all over out there. We decided to camp at East Creek so that we could check out the approach/descent the day before and potentially get a jump on the multitudes (and there were a lot of folks!) marching in early from Applebee Dome. I think this worked out pretty well, but it’s a bit of a hump carrying a heavy pack over the BS col and down the Pigeon-Howser col. The PH col has some unpleasant loose scrambling which is a bit unnerving when there are multiple parties tromping around.
PH Col and East Creek
We woke up early and scrambled up to the split rock (a bit tricky in the dark). We headed up a bit too early through blocks, where I think you are supposed to continue traversing on slabs, but it all worked out. We simuled 3 pitches, then climbed pitch after pitch of 5.8-5.10- awesomeness that was both fun and tiring. The dihedral pitches are really fun. We did the standard squeeze chimney, which was a bit of a thrutch with a pack/ice axe on, but was well protected and certainly doable. The 5.10 cracks to the left looked inviting, though I heard from other parties that that are a little rounded and sustained relative to the other splitter cracks on the route. Pick your poison.
I’ve never really done tension traverse purposefully, and I’m not really sure how the leader would avoid the 5.10+ traverse on the last pitch before the rappel. Luckily it is just really one short committing move and you’re to easy ground. I’m sure you could figure out a way to aid it, but it wasn’t that bad, and it is very easy for the follower to tension across if you wait a while to place your first piece in the easy chimney/gully after the traverse.
The rappels are great, and get you down fast (single 70m). I would stick to the descriptions for the rappels that are available online and posted at the Kian Hut. They are right on, and very literal. We got down to the snow as light was fading and romped back to the Pigeon-Howser Col. I did not bring crampons, which was fine with the exception of a glacier ice traverse just above East Creek Camp. This was a bit spicy, but probably avoidable earlier in the year.
We got back to camp around 11:00, which felt relatively civilized, though I was certainly a bit tired. It was a great route, and worthy of the hype! Of course this has led to route crowding, and most days there were several groups that retreated because they were too far back in the conga line.
We took a rest day, and then humped our heavy packs over to Snowpatch Spire on the way out. We decided to go for Surfs Up, as it made logistical sense and we had heard good things. The first few pitches were meh by Bugaboo classic standards, but the following pitches were stellar! The position from Surfs Up Ledge onward is really amazing, and the climbing is fun! Again, the rappels are great (single 70m) and get you down fast.
A beautiful place that is now very popular! I’ll be back!
Gear Notes: Doubles to 3" single 4" Approach Notes: Up BS Col, Down PH Col to East Creek