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[TR] Bugaboos - multiple 7/26/2009

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Trip: Bugaboos - multiple


Date: 7/26/2009


Trip Report:



Following many months of planning, scheming, evenings of reverie and good times - the moment had finally come. We were in the dusty parking lot after about an hour of gravel roads, wrapping our car in chicken wire. It's not really wrapping the car up like a present...it's more like putting a skirt of iron around the loins of the trusty automobile. Yes, we were finally here, strapping on these obscenely large packs, chock full of gear and food for a week in the Bugaboos. We being Jport, Gabrielle, me and countless hungry mosquitoes.




The forecast called for a few days with chance of afternoon showers/thunderstorms followed by four days of sunshine. So we planned on alpine starts to get off the routes before the weather rolled in.



The first day we opted for a warm-up, climbing the SE ridge of Eastpost Spire - mainly a 3rd and 4th class scramble with a little bit of simul climbing. Early on, in the dark and rain, Gabrielle took a short tumble (she and the rock next to her, evidently). It seemed like just a scrape. Undaunted, we plodded on. With just a few hours of morning exhausted, we hiked over to Crescent Spires for a route called Ears Between. We found the direct start quite a wake-up call, followed by some fun climbing and some chimney work. We finished rappelling off and started the hike down just in time to soak up the afternoon showers.





Day 2: we had our eye on wingtip arete on Pigeon Spire, but opted for an easier route after our experience on Ears Between. A quick consultation of the guidebook yielded a more moderate objective, something like 8 hours door to door, a more obscure route calledMillar-Shepard, rated 5.6. We came to call the route "5.6 my ass". This called for our first trip up the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col, which we found in good condition - decent snow coverage and a straightforward ascent track. Getting on the route was a little bit of an adventure, navigating around abergschrund and up a rotten gully. It seems like the snow level was fairly low, with a lot of big moats and bergschrunds . The start to this route could be an easy walk-up with the right snow conditions.





The route proper follows the (more or less) obvious eastridge line - or in other words, up slabs, cracks and chimneys covered in that delightfully manky black lichen. For one pitch we had the option of low angle snow/ice or cracks. Opting for the snow, we found hard ice underneath (would have been a good day for steel crampons);Jport dispensed nicely with this lead - gloveless. Scrambling and roped climbing brought us all to the summit just in time for Jport to get a clear view of the weather coming in from the east. One rappel (70m rope) got us to the downclimb of the West Ridge just as the first drops started to fall. The position of the West Ridge is spectacular, the rock is clean (much cleaner than we had been on) and the climbing is positive. It would have been more fun without the rain. Of course the precipitation let up at pretty much exactly the same time we got to the base of the climb, had a late lunch and changed back into boots. The climb took us longer than we had hoped, our hands were beat up from the sharp rock, and we had struggled on pitches rated well within our experience levels. We were climbing with half ropes, so in theory climbing as a threesome shouldn't have slowed us down that much.



Day 3: Now at this point it was becoming evident that Gabrielle's tumble resulted in more than just a scrape. She was in sporadic pain with laughter, breathing and certain upper body movements - all hard to avoid while climbing. She elected to sleep in on day three whileJport and I tried to climb faster and more efficiently. On the northwest corner of Snowpatch spire we found 8 pitches of fun climbing on 'Buckingham Route - the enjoyable way'. We were able to ditch boots, axe, etc. at the base and climb with one small pack between the two of us. This came off more in line with our expectations, except for the bonus 5.9 chimneyJport decided to throw in for no good reason. This was not a matter of getting off-route, more a matter of saying "well, I could go this way..." (right) and going left. Above this the last pitch took us over some fun flakes, cracks and crux slabs - protected with bolts. The descent was time consuming with lots of rope management on the rappels. So we were finally starting to get into our groove and a cadence.



Day 4: the forecast for good weather seemed to push out day by day. Between weather (highest probability of precipitation in the forecast so far), Gabrielle's injury and our general state of fatigue, we opted for a very light day - an easy 3 pitch route onEastpost . What we found was only one manky pitch of crack/chimney/lichen. Discouraged by the route finding failure and our general state of lassitude, we called it a rest day - cards, naps, lunch...and lots of sunshine. It did rain that night, but the afternoon weather we were trying to avoid never materialized.



Day 5: the long promised sunny weather continued to push out day by day, so we more or less ignored the forecast. We wanted to do the NE ridge of Bugaboo, but still concerned about our pace, the descent and Gabrielle's injury. Evidently a lot of parties don't make it back before dark. So we figured it would be a good day to climb the Kain route on Bugaboo as a threesome -Jport and I would then have the descent dialed for the next day. We enjoyed good weather, fun scrambling and a few pitches of airy climbing. We were quite impressed with Conrad Kain's 1916 first ascent - round trip from the valley floor. A couple of moves around the gendarme must have been pretty gutsy with the gear he had. By this point the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col was getting pretty nasty. Towards the top, heat and rain had conspired to melt off a lot of the snow, leaving more and more ice above thebergschrund. We were doing two double rope rappels to get down. The second rap took us over the bergschrund. There had been a snow bridge but it had melted out by now, making for a more exciting rappel down into the 'schrund and back out. We were glad this was our last trip up the col.



Day 6: Pared down to one day pack, one camelback and a rope backpack, Jport and I headed out early for the NE ridge of Bugaboo. We made good time on the approach, roping up around sunrise. It was a smokey, hazy day but without threat of clouds so far and pleasant temps for climbing. We were surprised to have the route to ourselves. The route lived up to its billing - clean rock, great position, and the moves are all there. We got off route at the low 5th class chimney system - getting into the nice cracks to the left. Before we knew it we were making our way over to the south summit, the Kain route rappels and the end of our Bugaboos trip. We were packed up and leaving the hut before 7, and back in Radium in time for burgers and beer.



From Portland, the Bugaboos are every bit as accessible and enjoyable as a trip to Yosemite. We barely even scratched the surface - lots of quality climbing to be had.



Gabrielle is recovering nicely.




More pictures forthcoming




Gear Notes:

could have packed in less


Approach Notes:

Beautiful; strenuous


Edited by ptownclimber

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