Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nouveau Classique in the Bugaboos

Blake and I had an opportunity to make a short trip in the Bugaboos at the end of July. While we had fantastic snow conditions and generally dry rock, an unsettled weather forecast kept us from going after our main objective on North Howser Tower.  Most days it snowed but we were able to continue climbing in marginal weather.  Though this is my third trip to the range, my future tick-list is a little longer than when I arrived.  Blake and I got on two newer classic routes, climbed one area-standby and got lost somewhere in the hinterlands between two routes.    

Blake coming up the fantastic second pitch of Divine Intervention.

Day one saw us on the new route called Divine Intervention on Bugaboo Spire.  The route climbs the left side of the face, as viewed from Applebee Dome, and then joins the NE Ridge to the summit.  The route’s name came after the first ascensionist fell while soloing high on the route and his certain demise was halted by a piece of gear errantly clipped to his harness happened to catch upon the rock mid-fall.  Most parties (ourselves included) climb only the initial five pitches (about two pitches from the NE Ridge variation) and descend back to the glacier.  The “easy” climbing on this route felt high in the grade, which took the sting out of the 11b crux.  For future aspirants, the 11b face climbing is well protected but you will have to climb mid-5.11 above your gear.  For something 30min from camp, this is a mega-classic that could be extended to a full-day if you continue to the summit and down the Kain Route.

Blake leading out on Sunshine Crack.
Lots of wide climbing...

We had a forecast for 70% precipitation on day two and decided to get on Sunshine Crack.  Sunshine Crack has a short approach, bolted rap stations for an easy descent and has absolutely fantastic climbing on every pitch.  This route is not to be missed but be forewarned there is a lot of wide-crack climbing.  You could easily bring three #4 camalots and not feel like you brought too many.  Thankfully, Blake conceded and allowed us to bring both of our #4’s.  With all due respect he did lead the sustained wide-crack pitch, so I suppose I can’t complain!

Blake about to start up the first 12+ pitch...
The amazing reverse split pillar pitch...

The best climbing on our trip was on the new route Sendero Norte.  While we did not get up the entire route, our two attempts were still worthwhile.  Sendero Norte is a proud, proud route on the E Face of Snowpatch Spire.  There are two 5.12+ pitches, one 5.11+ pitch, one 5.11b pitch, several 5.11a’s and many 5.10/10+ pitches.  We climbed the lion’s share of the difficulties on both of our attempts but bailed due to a storm and free-climbing meltdown/fatigue respectively.  Personally I was pretty fatigued on day-five, our second attempt, and wasn’t able to send my pitches.  I certainly climbed worse than on our first attempt.  I can’t say the performance was due to fatigue, a meltdown or it being generally hard but I will return to finish this route.

Our only non-classic day was our fourth.  After a morning vacillating over route selection we headed for the North Tower Direct on the W Face of Snowpatch Spire.  I climbed about 60m of dirty, gritty climbing before deciding to bail in search of something better.  We recalibrated and headed up a route immediately to the left called Flamingo Fling.  What we ended up climbing, I can’t exactly say.   I’d call it type-2 fun.  It was dirty, gritty, grungy, adventurous climbing.  I’ve learned that this type of climbing is genuine type-1 fun for Blake (perhaps he just uses a different scale?).