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[TR] Bugaboos: Snowpatch Spire (and Eastpost rest day) - Snowpatch Route (5.8, 19p) 7/13/2015


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Trip: Bugaboos: Snowpatch Spire (and Eastpost rest day) - Snowpatch Route (5.8, 19p)


Date: 7/8/2015


Trip Report:


Allie and I did a BC climbing trip from Jul 2-12. I'm breaking it up into a few reports for the individual climbs. Here was our overall trip timeline. Bolded days are those described in this report.


Jul 1: Leave Seattle after work, drive to Glacier National Park in Canada

Jul 2: Pick up our permits to camp at Mt Sir Donald at the Rogers Pass visitor center, hike in to the Upper Bivy site, at the col between Mt Sir Donald and Uto Peak. Climb Uto Peak via SW ridge.

Jul 3: Climb Mt Sir Donald, descend most of the way

Jul 4: Return to camp and hike out, drive to Golden and stay in Motel

Jul 5: Get our packs packed for the Bugaboos, have breakfast, drive to the Bugaboos trailhead and hike in to Applebee Dome campground

Jul 6: Climb Bugaboo Spire via NE Ridge

Jul 7: Scramble Eastpost Spire via NE Ridge

Jul 8: Climb Snowpatch Spire via Snowpatch Route

Jul 9: Climb Crescent Towers South (Donkey Ears) via Ears Between

Jul 10: Attempt Snowpatch Spire via Surfs Up, but get weathered off

Jul 11: Hike out, drive to Halcyon Hot Springs for a day of relaxation

Jul 12: Drive back to Seattle


Eastpost Spire - NE Ridge


After climbing Bugaboo Spire on July 6th, we slept in and had an easy rest day in camp, basking in the Sun. By mid-afternoon, we started feeling a bit lazy, and went for a scramble up the NE Ridge of Eastpost Spire. Eastpost is the closest of the spires to camp, and it took us about 2.5 hours camp to camp. The NE Ridge is a 4th class scramble route on the back side of the mountain as viewed from camp.


It makes for a great low effort way to stretch your legs on a rest day in the Bugaboos while getting some great views. We hiked up to the Crescent-Eastpost Col and headed up the snow slope on the back of it to get to the NE Ridge, at the notch in the middle of the photo:




We climbed easy terrain on the NE Ridge:




and were rewarded with nice summit views:





Snowpatch Route (5.8, 19p)


After our rest day, we headed up Snowpatch Route. After how long Bugaboo Spire NE Ridge had taken us, we were worried about how long of a day this would be, so we woke up really early and left camp by 3:30 am. The approach takes you back down to the Kain hut, around Son of Snowpatch up the Bugaboo Glacier, and to hit the notch between Snowpatch Spire and Son of Snowpatch up a gully on the back side. Most of this approach is quite nice and straightforward, except for a short section of horrifically loose scree leading up to the gully.


Pitches 1-3 were an easy (but exposed) low 5th scramble from the notch up near the ridge crest to get to the base of a deep dihedral. Here's a shot of Allie on pitch 3:




We roped up at the base of the pitch 4 dihedral. Climb the dihedral until topping out near the base of an even bigger dihedral, where you'll find a 2 piton anchor:




For pitch 5, you don't head up the corner itself but up some cracks on the right wall. After surmounting this wall, you drop down right a bit and do some "easy" moves to get to a rising hand traverse that heads right. For us, the easy moves were covered in a waterfall coming off the melting snowpatch above, and this made them pretty spicy. The hand traverse itself (pitch 6) was dry and very fun.


After the hand traverse, Allie led straight up the slabs/broken ground (pitch 7) above to the base of the snowpatch:




From here, we got on simul and did pitches 8-13 in one continuous simul pitch that I led. It took only about 40 minutes for these 6 pitches, saving us a ton of time. Some photos from this section:


Looking back at Allie by the snowpatch:




Looking up at the route, you keep going along the left side of the snowpatch. There's some sections that go pretty far between opportunities for protection, but the angle is low enough that it doesn't matter:




Looking down again:




The broken ground of pitches 12-13, leading to the "inverted pear" (black shape right in middle of photo):




The more challenging (5.8ish) climbing starts from here. Allie led the corner (pitch 14-15):




The next pitch (16) lets you pick between an off-width or a face-climb option (either goes at 5.8) for about 20 ft before climbing easier ground. Allie picked the off-width and crushed it, while I stood at the belay and worried about how she was 20 ft off the deck with no pro:




The next pitch (17) we both thought was the crux. It is quite convoluted. First, you climb up a few steps, then you do a cruxy hand traverse left, with no real feet (just smearing on near vertical slab). I led this pitch and found the hand traverse very difficult, resorting to sewing it up and pulling on gear. Looking back at my gear chain:




After the hand traverse, you continue further left on a little ramp, and then reach a section of sporty face climbing. This section is protected by 3 old pitons, and there's probably one spot there where you could stick in a small cam that would hold also. After this face climbing, you crawl back right along a ramp to behind a horn. This horn is the supposed belay spot but I found it very awkward, so I continued up from the horn for about 10 ft to another horn with a bit more of a ledge by it and belayed there.


Looking down at Allie belaying me after doing the hand traverse:




Allie following the pitch after having finished the hand traverse. You can see the pitch kind of winds back and forth:




From here, two more easy pitches took us to the summit:




Allie setting up the first rappel down the Kraus-McCarthy route:




This rappel route is awesome, all chain anchors, optimal length for single 60m rope (each rappel is 25m-30m). The book beta shows a picture where the last rappel reaches all the way down to the snow. This year (low snow and such) that wasn't even close to true, the last rappel leaves you about 100' above the snow (or maybe the book meant that it reaches the snow if you use double ropes for the last rappel or something). But it's an easy scramble from the bottom of the last rappel skiers left down to the snow, so no problem.


Looking down the rappel route:




Looking across at Pigeon Spire:



The climb took us 13 hours camp-to-camp. Out of all the climbs we did on this trip, Snowpatch Route was our favorite climb for both me and Allie. Definitely recommend it very highly. The simul pitches beside the snowpatch were super fun, and the 3 5.8 pitches high on the route were interesting, unique, and awesome. Together with the uncomplicated descent, it makes for a very enjoyable, appropriately challenging outing. Despite the higher number of pitches in the book description, this climb takes much less time than Bugaboo Spire NE Ridge.

Edited by ilias
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Yep it definitely goes very nicely with a single 60m, was clearly designed for it. Perhaps it used to be designed for doubles back when the guidebook was written and then intermediate anchors were added later or something? We went by Steph Abegg's beta, which also mentions it took only a single 60m rope, as of 2007:



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