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[TR] Bugaboos - Sunshine Crack, NE Ridge Bugaboo


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Trip: Bugaboos - Sunshine Crack, NE Ridge Bugaboo Spire, Mctech Are


Date: 8/18/2009


Trip Report:

Did a 4 day stint in the Bugaboos two weeks ago. My first trip up there, I was blown away! Even better than what people tell you. We did well with the weather and went home tired after climbing four days in a row.


Full pics are Here .



Day 1: Sunshine Crack (lost on approach, rained off higher up)

Day 2: Sunshine Crack.

Day 3: NE Ridge Bugaboo Spire. (solo)

Day 4: Mctech Arete


Sunshine Crack. 5.11. 10 pitches


We got a late start as there was a lighting storm at dawn and a bit of rain. A great start to the trip. Eventually the rain let-up and we hiked out in socked-in weather. Everyone at the hut was telling us not to go up if the forecast called for rain, I think most of these people were from Souther California.


The great thing about Sunshine Crack is the lack of commitment on it. All of the pithes (except one) have bolted belays and you can rap the route as soon as the weather turns foul. A 45 minute walk takes you back to the hut. A good route to do the weather is too foul for any of the bigger routes.


They "normal" approach takes you up the Bugaboo Col and then left to the base of the route. Unfortunately the Col is a mess this year, blue ice falling rock and Crevasses. We waste an hour or so before falling rock forces us to turn back and run for cover.


Thankfully we find a way to bypass this crap by climbing a few pitches of 5.6 at the base of Snowpatch and traversing far right to gain the base of the Sunshine Crack proper. The climbing on this variation is contrived and bit lose, but it works well and you don't need crampons or an ax to get on the rock. (although it is a little tricky stepping off the snow and onto the rock.) There is also rap stations near this variation allowing you to come back down this way instead of having to go down the Col at the end of the day. You can rap back down this way on slung blocks and bolts.




Sunshine crack with 3 approach pitches marked in red.




Moira Leading the first approach pitch in poor weather.


We make it up the first "real" pitch of Sunshine Crack at 2:00PM and it starts to rain. Rap down and bail.


Day Two and the weather is a little bit better, no rain just socked in fog and mist. Lovely Weather! We get an early start, hit the approach right and have a good time of it. Pitch by pitch beta in the guidebook is mostly accurate. I felt some of the grades were a bit stiff, but maybe it was climbing in 6 layers of clothing made me feel awkward. A few things that stand out.


* The 2nd pitch OW is gnarly and beautiful, 4-5 inches, 5.10+. I was panting hard after the fact. I brought 2x #4s and 1x #4.5. This was about right for me as I was able to walk the 4.5 for a long way before leaving it at my feet for the crux section. A strong OW climber might be able to to get buy with one #4 and one #5.


*Many of the pitches involve some wide climbing in the 3-4 inch size. Not too bad, but if that is a bad size for you, be prepared.


*The only belay that is not bolted is right below the 5.11 roof. Gear belay takes hand sized cams.


* The route gets no sun and is way cold.


*Mellow raps right down the face on double ropes. When climbing up check the distances, you can skip a few anchors on the way down if you have 2x 60M ropes.


Sunshine Crack is amazing, perhaps one of the better alpine crack routes I've ever done. Every pitch is splitter and every style of crack climbing is well represented. I did find a few wet spots, but aside from that the route feels like someone came through with a brush the night before and polished it. The route is also steeper than it looks, many pitchs over-hang. Double yeah as there isn't any face climbing, just cracks! Someone designed a route just for me.





Looking up at the 2nd pitch OW




Climbing OW pitch in the fog.




Above a nice 5.9 layback section.




Looking down pitch 5



NE Ridge Bugaboo Spire (Solo)


The third day my partner needed a rest day and finally the sun came out. What to climb? The NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire is the most obvious line up there, standing at the hut the first day I didn't know anything about that route, but was thinking there had to be a good route up there. It begs to be climbed !




Route marked in Red, descent in Green.


I left the hut at 9:00AM with a rope and bivy gear. I was expecting a long day but the climbing went by very quickly and I was on the summit 3 hours after I left the hut. It is amazing how much faster you climb when your not belayed. I climbed the 5.9 hands/fist variation and topped out both summits (which is the higher summit?) Truly an amazing route, the position is mind boggling and the climbing is clean fun granite. I pass a few parties en-route and they shoot a few pictures. Maybe one of the best days I've ever had climbing. A few thoughts.


*The approach Col/wall thingy is lose. I wore boots in here and wish I had put on my climbing shoes. Mostly low 5th but unstable rock.


*The first pitch (5.8) is rad fingers for a 100 feet. Although fun, I thought it was stiff for 5.8 with slick feet.


*The summit traverse is insane, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Don't jump, that glacier is a long damn way down.


*Descent is slow but not too bad, I rapped a few times on bolts and down climbed 4th and easy 5th class sections. Don't go skiers left, stay on the ridge high right! Guidebook is useful for this.



Looking up at the route from top of the Col.



Another party on the first pitch 5.8



Somewhere around pitch 4



Ridge Traverse





Mctech Artete 5.10 6 pitches


Another great route to do when the weather is poor. Short hike-in, easy rap down and stupid good climbing. On this day the weather was sunny and downright hot. While only 6 pithes, pitch 2 and 4 could be some of the best granite crack climbing I've ever done. Reminds me a lot of Sierra style granite, smooth white rock.


*The second pitch is long, 170 feet with a good long spot of steep finger crack climbing, 5.10. Try not grin too much, you might fall near the end from all the giggling.


*Pitch 4 is even better, bring an extra #2 and maybe a #3. Perfect hands for a very long way with a small roof near the bottom. I'm not sure it is possible to design a better pitch.




Belays marked



Start of Pitch 4.



Awful weather in the Bugs.





Approach Notes:

Steep hike into the hut, 2.5 hours with heavy packs.

Edited by eldiente
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