Monday, July 22, 2013

Bugaboo Spire Trip Report July 12-14

Kyle had been talking about the Bugaboos since the spring, and it had been in the back of our minds ever since we took a multi-pitch and trad climbing course in Squamish in April. Somehow a free weekend emerged in our jam-packed summer and we jumped on the chance to get out and climb some of the amazing spires! We made a quick get-away from work Friday afternoon and arrived in the parking lot around 8 pm. After about 30 minutes of gear faff and setting up the protection around the truck to prevent porcupines from checking the brake cables, we hit the trail. It is amazing how much heavier the packs were with all the climbing gear in them!
Keep out! No porcupines allowed
Climbing up the ladder to the campsite
The Hounds Tooth and Bugaboo Glacier
The hike to the Boulder Campsite took us about an hour and forty minutes. It was a really well maintained trail with lots of little bridges over creeks in the valley followed by 700 meters of elevation gain up to the hut with views of the Hounds Tooth, Bugaboo Glacier and a waterfall cascading down the mountainside. The Kain hut was visible for most of the hike, teasing us with how far we had to go. The steep upper sections of trail had some cement stairs, chain handrails and even a ladder! We reached the Boulder Campsite just in time to set up the tent before it got dark. After a hot drink and packing our gear for the morning, we crawled into our sleeping bags and immediately fell asleep.

Evening alpine glow
5 am came much too quickly. Despite our best efforts, we were not quite as efficient as we had hoped to be. We left the Kain Hut at 6:50 am to start our trip up the Bugaboo Spire via the Kain Route (5.6). The first obstacle was reaching the Snowpatch-Bugaboo Col. This involved putting on crampons and getting the ice axes out. We decided not to rope up, but one of the two parties ahead of us did. With the crampons, the steep, snowy hill was quite easy and we made great time up to the Col where we left our axes, crampons and extra water to pick up on the way back down.
Morning light on the Snowpatch-Bugaboo Col with some climbers in the foreground
After leaving the Col, we started the scramble up Bugaboo spire. As we got higher and higher, the route got steeper but we made good time to the first belay station by taking a direct route up to the ridge and then traversing to avoid a patch of snow. At the belay station we met another party and were surprised to see Wendy from the Scrambling and Mountaineering Club! We spent the rest of the day following them up the route.
View of the top of the spire from the first ridge
Scrambling up
Waiting to climb at the first technical pitch
We climbed the first 50m pitch with our hiking boots on to get to the next ridge. This one was pretty exposed! We stayed roped up to cross the ridge which was pretty unnerving. After crossing to a safe spot we had some lunch and let our adrenaline rush settle down a bit. There were a decent number of parties coming down but luckily the rappels don't really interfere with the climbs so we didn't get held up by anyone on the 3 technical pitches to the top.

Ridgeline "au cheval"
 Climbing up to the large rocky protrusion (the gendarme) was really fun until a hex got stuck and I spent way to long trying to get it out. After wasting a bunch of time with that, it was my turn to lead the gendarme. I climbed up onto the slab face and slowly made my way around until I reached a corner and froze up. I wasn't sure where to go to get to the next anchor. Some helpful coaching from Wendy's party above helped me make the one committing move. It was such a relief to get to the anchor, but I was still shaking when Kyle arrived on the ledge.
Looking down at the gendarme and Wendy's party
Mandatory summit shot
The last pitch went smoothly and we finally arrived on the south summit of Bugaboo Spire! It was getting late and we were the last party to arrive so we didn't stick around for every long.This trip was a bit of a birthday celebration as his birthday was coming up. I worked pretty hard to sneak a big brownie along on the trip and presented it to him, complete with a candle, at the summit before heading down. He was pretty surprised!
Birthday brownie
Unfortunately, getting to the top was only half of the climb. We had a long way to descend before we could rest. The good news was that there were lots of belay anchors on the way down so we were able to rappel down lots of the steep stuff. Thankfully we didn't get the rope stuck! We were able to catch up to Wendy and her friends and scrambled down the last of the the way to the col with them where we collected our stashed gear. 
Dropping in off the top
About to descend into the abyss 
Coming down the Crescent Glacier was pretty interesting. We were exhausted and it was steep! There were 3 fixed rappels and a sling anchor down the side of Snowpatch that we used to get over the bergshrund. After that, we just had to walk down the steep snow. I slipped once and got to test out my self-arresting skills with my ice axe. Good thing I had practiced! Down on the flat part of the glacier, we stumbled our way back to the trail, totally stoked on our accomplishment and eager for some dinner. When we checked the time at the Kain hut, we had been hiking/climbing for 14:25. It was 9:15 pm! We were tempted to use the hut's luxury running water and electricity, but it was booked full for the night. We had a huge dinner and chocolate chip cookie dough to celebrate. What a day!
Down the glacier
Back at the Kain hut after 14 hours and 25 mins. Looking a bit tired.
Bugaboo glacier in the background.
 Sunday morning we didn't set an alarm and leisurely packed up before going up to the Kain hut to make some coffee. We did a short hike up to the Applebee Campground where I would like to stay next time we go because it would save about 45 mins of hiking at the beginning and end of a big day. The day was spend exploring and taking some photos before heading down to the car for the drive home. We were really happy with our success on Bugaboo Spire and would love to come back for longer to go out and try some other objectives. It may be a while before we can do anything much harder than a 5.6 out here, but with some more practice multi-pitching, I am sure we could be a lot quicker!

Snowpatch spire behind us
Applebee campsite below Snowpatch and Bugaboo
Setting up the tripod

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