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[TR] Bugaboo Provincial Park - 8/4/2012

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Trip: Bugaboo Provincial Park -


Date: 8/4/2012


Trip Report:

Bugaboos: Trip Report

August 3-11, 2012; with Dan Nelson




30-second overview

Between August 3 and 11, Dan and I climbed in the Bugaboos Provincial Park in BC. We had a phenomenal combination of good weather and good luck. We climbed W. Ridge on Pigeon (awesome), McTech Arete on Cresent Spire (good), Wildflowers on Snowpatch (dirty, but still good), and Becky-Choinard (B-C) on South Howser Tower (exhausting/awesome).


Drive, Parking lot and Approach

Left Friday evening. Bivied off some random bit of road in Idaho and finished drive Saturday, arriving in parking lot sometime around 1300. The parking lot had a lot of cars in it (est. 70

Scant chicken wire remained for porcupine-proofing car tires, spent some time foraging for sticks and rocks to support such. Took off on trail around 1500 with packs easily weighing 80+ (lots of good food and way too many ropes). Approach straightforward, hot, took maybe 2.45 hrs.


A helicopter landed almost immediately after we arrived and picked up a young woman from a guided (hiking?) party with a leg injury.




We opted to stay in the hut.


Despite 2.5x the cost of camping at Applebee ($25/person/night v $10/person/night), and longer approaches, we prioritized not being uncomfortable should notorious Bugs weather come in, and carrying no stoves/tents/etc. The hut has electric outlets, toasters, stovetops, cookware, copies of the Atkinson guidebook for sale (42CAN), and a bin of 'scrap paper' that is really printouts of route descriptions (some laminated) left by parties that have since departed (very handy). The hut is (as expected) noisy; earplugs are essential.


Climbs (approaches and descents)

Our number 1 objective was B-C, a route we expected to challenge us in numerous ways, as well as receiving the high praise of just about everyone we knew who had climbed it. It took us a few days to get to it, and then we were too spent to do anything else.


Sunday-Pigeon, W. Ridge (5.4)-


We opted to do this route on our first day to get a bit of the lay of the land. The Atkinson book recommended climbing it to scope the descents on Bugaboo, Snowpatch, Crescent, etc. The Bugaboo Col was in terrific condition: 40 minutes from hut (0700) to base (0740), another 20 to get up it (0800), and another 60 min to get to base of Pigeon (0900). Three parties were ahead of us on route, another arrived shortly after us and another shortly after them. Despite the cluster of folks, the route is mellow enough to accommodate numerous parties on slight variations of the same route. Dan and I simul-climbed and passed two parties pitching it out, while one party behind us (free-soloing) passed us.


Overall a terrific route with great views; simul-climbing it took us 2 hours to summit. As indicated (Atkinson?), likely the best 5.4 I've ever climbed.


Descent backtracks route, straightforward (passed two more parties ascending, and one descending).

There is a throne-style toilet at the base of this climb (nice view), in response to numerous folks using that area for that sort of business (also one at top of Bugaboo/Snowpatch Col).




Monday- Crescent Spire, McTech Arete (5.10)-


This was our second climb to give us an idea of what 5.10 in the Bugs feels like, without committing to a lot of pitches (5). The approach here is a little quicker, 30 minutes to Applebee (0630) from the Kain hut (0600), and another 40 to the base of the Tower (0710, shorter if you trust the ice on the lake). We were fortunate to be the first party, two others arrived while I was leading the first pitch.


It's a good route, the 5.10 pitch is definitely the best one, and the 5.9 dihedral/roof pitch is a good long one.


A party of 4 shooting new BD gear followed us up and made for good conversation at the belays. Apparently having a testicle removed will greatly augment the comfort of your harness. We summited around 1230, after reading mountainsloth's TR, I was hoping to catch Dan tearing up at the top, but no such luck.


Descent straightforward from chains at top.


Tuesday- Snowpatch, Wildflowers (5.9)-


We'd intended to do B-C next, but some weather was coming in so we opted for something less committing, and figured this would be a good way to get our transitions dialed on sustained 5.9. This climb is also on the Mt. Project classic climbs list. I don't think it should be. The route is covered in lichen and a fair bit of it is loose. It is in the shade for most of the day, which makes it cold, and it is slow to dry.


The last pitch is wacky and fun, but one of our ropes got stuck while I was leading (no doubt could have been avoided, but resulted in an awkward anchor in flaring cracks with crappy pro), which made me bitter towards the climb. Nevertheless, it is a decent route that is worth doing if you don’t mind some funk and dirt. Most of the climbing is quite good, just don’t expect perfect clean cracks the whole way. Views are nice from Snowpatch summit.



Similar approach as Pigeon (up to Bugaboo/Snowpatch col, then traverse under West face until reaching base of route, ~75 minutes from Kain). Descent is 6 or 7 single rope rappels (we avoided double rope rappels where we could, hoping to avoid stuck ropes) down back to base. The rap line is clean, easy and straightforward with new bolted stations. Luckily no storms, though a significant crevasse opened on the Crescent glacier (ascending to the Bugaboo/Snowpatch Col).


Wednesday- rest day. Snowpatch took us longer than we'd hoped (Dan says we should have taken the IV grade more seriously), and weather was again supposed to come in. It did. Showers and hail storms intermittently through the day. I read through all the 'scrap-paper' iterations of beta for the BC route. Dan watched movies on his iphone.



Thursday- S.Howser Tower, Becky-Choinard (5.10)-


Here we go! Knowing that we are not 'fast' climbers, and opting for more time to screw things up with less pressure from the dark and fatigue (and to be on the summit with some light in the sky and be able to easily see rap stations), we decided to bring gear to bivy on the pitch 10 ledge... yup, heavy packs (6L water, bivy gear, food, ice axes, crampons, etc.). We left Kain hut at 0300,


0630 E. Crk bivy (last water). We started roped climbing close to 0800. The pitches were varied and fun. After the first crux pitch (5.9 small roof/flake move), I screwed up my lead by taking us up the wrong crack. Having received some beta from another party that several of the 5.8 pitches felt like 5.10, I pressed on, thinking I was just being soft, until I found myself pulling on a piece, and then another, and then barely able to get in my finger tips. Sometime around then, I realized I should have traversed to the dihedral crack about 50 feet lower.

IMG_2693.JPG I climbed the crack furthest climbers left (closest to the top of the photo above).

We reached the pitch 10 ledge around 2000, enjoyed the sunset and set up our bivies.


We we blessed with a warm, dry night. Friday- Got started at 0830, the 5.10 wide crack felt hard on early-morning cramped up muscles, but was mercifully short. I was disappointed not to be able to enjoy this pitch, but suppose that's one of the trade-offs of overnighting on route. The remaining pitches were similarly varied and progressively more enjoyable as our bodies warmed and the heavy follower pack lightened. At some point my shoes decided to crap out, both laces broke and the leather of one blew). From the top of the chimney above the 5.10+ crux move (1520), we found the rappel followed by 200-300 ft of 4th with some 5th moves, to be challenging enough to merit roping up. Talking to others and reading enough TRs it seems as if this is not uncommon. When the book says ‘mostly 4th with some 5th class moves’ I usually interpret this to mean low 5th, while here it’s more like 5.8, or it at least feels that way by the time you’re up there. Arrived on the summit around 1800.




The rappels (on (1) 70m double rope) went unexpectedly well, largely due to our mutual scrutiny of the 'new' (2008) rappel route. Some of those stations would be tough to find without such scrutiny, and doing it in the daylight definitely helped. Back on the Vowell glacier by 2030 and to the hut by 2245.





Saturday- pack up and go. We'd planned to either climb Bugaboo N. Ridge (if we got back early and felt good), Surf's Up (if we got back less early and felt ok) or go home (if we got back late and felt less than ok). With little motivation and an impending drive cross-country a few days later, we opted to head out and start the drive back Seattle. Left the hut around 1000 (carrying way more food than we'd hoped), back to car by 1145 (no porcupine damage).


Was surprised by the chaos of chicken wire (far fewer cars), that was more or less strewn about and in unusable condition, despite signage requesting rolling and stacking in pens designed for such.


Back in Seattle sometime in the early AM Sunday.


Gear notes and mishaps

I only brought 1.5L water capacity. To climb with 3L for B-C, I had to scrounge water containers. Approach shoes + aluminum crampons were fine for footwear. We didn’t use the #4 or #5 camalots that we brought.


Things that were not needed

Soap (plenty at the hut)

Battery charger (hut has electricity)



There are a lot of places to visit, a lot of places to climb. Usually I favor the new over the wonderful, but already experienced. But this place... I'll be back.


Edited by jesselillis

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looks like my TR was helpful. Glad for that. I have a nack for being an easy critic. That place just makes me smile, dirty cracks or clean. :)

Glad you guys had such great luck and good times!

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