Monday, August 22, 2011

Climbing... so good!

Bugaboo, Snowpatch, and Sean

Well, where do I start??? hmmm.... Yak Peak, Bugaboo Spire, Snowpatch Spire, South Howser Tower, the weather. I'll start with Squamish.

So I arrived back in Vancouver on the 2nd and headed pretty much straight to Squamish! Met up with an old friend, Sean Pickersgill, and we just started climbing lots. Started on St Vitus Dance a 6/7 pitch 5.9 crack and over the 8 days  in Squamish we climbed Intergator, The Squamish Buttress, The Split Pillar, did some cragging at the Smoke Bluffs and Nigthmare Wall, and even a few hours of bouldering.

St Vitus Dance Photo by Sean Pickersgill

I'm sure most of the climbers in the world have heard of this magical granite dome that sits just a few hours from Vancouver. It is as magical as it sounds. Squamish is a cool little town that has a good vibe and a great farmers market of saturday mornings to avoid the weekend rush to climb and you get some great local foods! 

St Vitus Photo by Sean Pickersgill

Also during that week we headed out to climb Yak Peak. Another good friend, Steph Peacock, joined us for that and it was a stellar day of granite climbing!

Steph on the first pitch of Yak Check

 Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Sean climbing on Yak
Sean pulling through on of the crux moves

On one of the top pitches of Reality Check on Yak Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Looking up at the route Photo by Sean Pickersgill

To finish the the days of I met up with another good friend, Anja Sigloch, and we did a lap on Banana Peel and climbed a few slabs at the top of the Apron descent. Squamish and Yak Peak where fantastic and then it was time for a stint in the Bugaboos!!

Slab climbing!

I've heard so much about the Bugs and have wanted to get in there to climb for the past number of summers and finally it all came together this one. Sean had the time and was super keen to go so we planned it and headed out on the 11th.

The Bugaboos are an alpine mecca! The granite spires are beautiful and Crescent Spire is home to what is said to be the best Alpine Crag in the world. There are numerous spires and peaks of varying difficulty and something for everyone. If you just want to go mountaineering, travel on a glacier, climb 5.12 finger cracks it's all there!

Sunset on the upper Vowell glacier with Bugaboo, Snowpatch and Pigeon Photo by Sean Pickersgill

We started hiking in at around 8pm and arrived at Applebee Campsite around 11pm. We planned for the Northest Ridge of Bugaboo Spire for our first day.

Applebee campground in the Bugaboos

Woke at 6ish and headed out climbed up to the Bugaboo Crescent col and just started climbing, it was great long easy climbing for hundreds of metres, traversed the summit block and headed down the Kain route to the Bugaboo/Snowpatch Col and back to camp. Our first day in the Bugs was awesome and just increased my motivation to climb more and more. 9 hrs camp to camp and again a great first day!!

Climbing the first pitch of the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Sean on the second pitch of the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire
Traversing the summit ridge of Bugaboo Spire Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Descending the Kain Route with Snowpatch behind Photo by Sean Pickersgill

During dinner me and Sean where cruzing the the guidebook and found a route on the west face of Snowpatch that looked sweet, Wildflowers 5.9 9 pitches, so after a good night sleep we headed up to the col and on the Upper Vowell glacier to the base. This route is awesome! It starts with a short 4th class scramble up to the base of a massive left facing corner a pitch of 5.7 then sustained 5.9 corner/crack climbing for 5 pitches until it eases to 5.7 for the last pitch or 2. the first 6 pitches are all in the shade and it was pretty cold, but it is the alpine so you just have to deal!   

Sean climbing the 3rd pitch of Wild Flowers on the West Face of Snowpatch Spire

Topping out on Wild Flowers with Pigeon and the South Howser Photo by Sean Pickersgill

The next 3 days where slower for us, we wanted to climb Mctech Arete a classic 6 pitch climb on the Crescent Spire but when we arrived the where a number of parties and we just weren't into hanging out in line so we headed back to camp. That night it snowed and rained as well as the next day. The following day the weather cleared but things where still wet/snowy so as they dried out we run into Golden for  some more food. We arrived back to camp early that evening with plans to go climb Surfs Up the next day.

We got up around 6:30am and headed to the col and to the base of Surfs Up. There was one party ahead of us and they seemed to get off route on pitch 3, which seems to happen to a lot of parties, as you start pitch 3 go up and slightly right for 20+m and find a big alcove with some tap and scramble up and back down to Surfs Up ledge. After a few more pitches we hit the summit and then descended. Surfs Up is a classic 5.9 and is commonly on many peoples hit list so an early start is recommended. Fortunately we passed that one party and there was another party slightly behind us.

Climbing the second pitch of Surfs Up Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Sean working hard on one of the upper pitches of Surfs Up

That night it rained for a bit and Sean's thermarest got a hole in it so our trip in the Bugs was going to be cut short. Fortunately we found a patch kit and fixed the mat and headed for East Creek Basin with the goal of climbing the Beckey-Chouniard a 800m buttress on the South Howser Tower.

Sean and Pigeon Spire on the way to East Creek

The Beckey-Chouinard is a highly esteemed alpine classic that was first climbed in 1961 by 2 of legendary climbing hardmen Fred Beckey and Yvon Chouinard. The route goes free at 10+ or 10- A0 with a tension traverse left on the last technical pitch.

Sean with Minaret Buttress and the Beckey-Chouinard on the left

After Sean's thermarest was all fixed up we headed to East Creek with food for a few days and plans to hangout there and enjoy the area. We arrived took lots of pictures, eat lots of food and had an early night  with a planned wake-up for 5am for our go at the Beckey-Chouinard.

We woke, ate some granola and headed out after some scrambling we got to the first pitch of more technical climbing and roped up. We where the only ones on the route that day. We swapped leads throughout, climbed well and took short breaks on Big Sandy Ledge and the Summit. We descended the North Ridge of the South Howser and landed on the Upper Vowell Glacier at 8pm and then got to our camp at 9ish. It was a 16hrs camp to camp push that had the best alpine climbing and I have ever experienced.  This truely lives up to the hype it gets!

The first 10- pitch of the Beckey-Chouinard Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Summit of the South Howser Photo by Sean Pickersgill
Descending the South Howser Photo by Sean Pickersgill

The next morning we slept in organized or gear and planned to head back to Golden for the night and finally back to Vancouver and the island on the 21st. Thanks to Felix for letting us crash at his place in Golden and to Dani and Kristen for another great gathering at their place!

Special thanks to Sean for the sweet month of climbing granite splitters! Nice work buddy!!

Hands after some granite climbing

Pigeon and the Howsers

Me and Snowpatch on the Upper Vowell Photo by Sean Pickersgill

Descending into East Creek Basin with Fingerberry Tower on left Photo by Sean Pickersgill

Sunset in East Creek Photo by Sean Pickersgill

Beckey-Chouinard and the Minaret Photo by Sean Pickersgill

1 comment:

  1. COOOL! I can't wait to get to the bugs Next year next year...
    Thanks for posting the pics with my socks on. I was hoping no one [else] would witness that...