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Selkirks and Bugboos, July 2008

26 Jul 2008 | climbing

A lightly edited version of my notes from a climbing trip to the Selkirks and Bugaboos of British Columbia in July 2008. Up mainly in case it is of use to anyone else planning a trip out there.

Sat 12 July

Left Seattle around 7am, drove to Vancouver to Canadian Govt. map shop. Very efficient system of locator maps, samples and lady to get and fold chosen sheets. Drove on to Rogers Pass and campground in the park.

Sun 13 July

Up late, 9am, lazed about camp and chatted to warden. Hike up great glacier trail to get a good view of Sir Donald – looked cool, good to climb.

Ate lunch and packed, left camp at 4:10pm. In tent under col at 7pm. Rain off and on, doesn’t look good. Cold camping on snow in Firstlight tent. Bed at 9pm with alarm at 5am.

Mon 14 July

Cold night, awoke at 5am to find Sir Donald in cloud for top section. Actually cloud forming on the mountain as wind moved airmass west to east. Hiked up rock and snow (with lightweight running shoes and lightweight crampons) to col. Dithered and waited a bit, then decided that ther weather was not good (also snow on NE side of Sir Donald). Opted to climb Uto instead. Black lichen was indeed extraordinarily slippery when wet. Simul climbed whole way up, simul climbed and rapped down. One frustrating rap with a stuck rope that I had to climb up to release. Sir Donald still in cloud when we got back to the col. Descended to tent, packed and back at car/campsite at 2:10pm.

Went to Revelstoke (60km!) for mediocre beer (at Regents Inn) and food (at Italian place on McCarthy). Got some beer and back to the Icillewaet campground.

Tue 15 July

Decided to try to get into the Gothics/Adamant range. No luck getting information from the B.C. Forest Service of from Louisiana Pacific logging company – in both cases the appropriate people were out in the field. Need to call in advance of trip… “P.P.P. leads to P.P.P.”. Ade spoke with a helicopter company and got a $2000 quote… too much.

Decided to try the logging road up the west side of the Colombia river anyway. Got a couple of miles in to a bridge by Lake/Campground to find a sign “Road closed at 8km (B.C.F.S)”. Bum.

Drove on to Golden for food, beer, coffee and supplies to head into the Bugaboos. Then onward to the Bugaboos parking lot, arriving at ~4pm. Took ages packing, plenty of chicken wire at lot for car. Left to hike up at ~7pm with big packs, Kain hut at ~9pm (fast end of guidebook time). Signed in, paid camping fee and then hiked down to the Boulder Campground.

Wed 16 July

Up early-ish, 5am, and on the trail at 6am. Hiked up past the Kain Hut and then up the rest of the “Bugaboo Stairmaster” to the glacier (about 360m vertical from Boulder Campground). Over to Snowpatch-Bugaboo col which was already getting soft in the early morning sun. Climbed Bugaboo spire via the Kain route in perfect weather. Ade lead the somewhat sketchy friction move (5.6) around the Gendarme. Otherwise lots of the 3rd and 4th class, and some 5th – better nearer the top. Summitted at ~12noon, back at camp ~3pm (9h round trip with 30min at summit).

Thu 17 July

Up at 4:30am, left tent at 5:40pm. Snow on the Snowpath-Bugaboo col somewhat firmer but already in the sun. Base of West Ridge of Pigeon at 8:15am along with 20+ others in guided parties. Changed from ice boots to rock shoes at base and guides nice enough to let us pass quickly. Awesome climb on perfect granite the whole way in clear weather. Soloed all except a little 5.4 to the third and last summit (actually very easy, the 10” crack slightly trickier than the finger traverse). To top in just over 1 hour from glacier (a little before the first guided party got to the first sub-summit). Lazed, took photos, rapped from summit and then soloed back. Met first guided party at second summit. Very scary to see pairs of guide plus client on a short rope on the “au cheval” section – why not belay? short roping seems to mean than two would fall if either slipped.

Roped for glacier back, scoped routes on east face of Howser Towers. Saw an avalanche/icefall down “Perma Grin”! Obviously we were in the wrong season for the ice routes but they look very good. Also scoped west face of Snowpatch, found Crause-Macarthy climb/rap-route and line of Buckingham. Also found rap lines from Snowpatch-Bugaboo col and watched a very fast party on “Sunshine Crack”. Down Snowpatch-Bugaboo col and then watch a party of 4 on “Vertical Party”, not quite sure what they were doing (aiding or trying to free it?).

Back to the tent very early. Ate, drank and planned for NE Ridge of Bugaboo. To bed at 9pm, forecast good.

Fri 18 July

Up at 3:30pm, sky overcast and had rained a bunch. Rest day. Back to sleep until 9am. Left to hike down to truck around 10am, at truck just past 11am. Food, beer, coffee. Chatted with two other Brits and set off back up with light packs (mostly just extra food). Easily up to the hut in under 2 hours. Bed at 8pm hoping for better weather than the mix of rain/hail, wind, cloud all day.

Sat 19 July

Neither Ade nor I slept well. Alarm and up at 3am, out hiking up the “stairmaster” by 4am. Eay scramble up to the Crescent-Bugaboo col and on up slabs to base of climb at 6:30am. Started NE Ridge of Bugaboo soon after. I nearly fell off as I sketched off the first real move. Very shaky for all of first pitch lead and scared Ade. Ade lead 2nd and we continued to alternate. Went better from then on. I accidentally lead up the 5.8/9 crack variation instead of starting the chimney on the 5th pitch. Chimney for 6th,7th easy but quite a few loose blocks. Got to real summit (south end of north summit ridge, not north end block as topo’s suggest) at about 12noon. Down climb to col between summits and then rapped from notch to go around east side of south summit. Down Kain route etc. and back to the hut around 5pm after a very leisurely descent. Used raps to get down Snowpatch-Bugaboo col. Very scary to watch Japanese girl in Canmore party fall amost all the way down from the col, losing ice axe and missing crevasse by a couple of feet. Both tired but a good day in perfect weather.

Sun 20 July

Up late and out tent around 9am. Up the stairmaster to do “Lion’s Way” on Crescent Tower. Very pleasant, moderate climbing. More continuous than my impression from reading the guide.

Chatted with folks at the Applebee campground abd at the Kain hut on the way back down. Back at 5pm, forecast good. Alarms for 4:30am to try Krause-Macarthy on Snowpatch tomorrow.

Mon 21 July

Up at 4:30am, left tent at 5:30am. Up the very familiar Bugaboo-Snowpatch col and to base of route at 7:45am, summit at 12noon. Eight pitches of good climbing and the grade seems about right (5.8+ish). Pitches 1 and 2 easy. Pitch 3 with overhang was Ade’s; wet as predicted in guide but overhang fine because of bucket hold, the move above was trickier. Continued to alternate pitches with a few route finding issues but all went OK. I got off-width on last pitch which was a thrutch but otherwise fine. Topped out in beautiful sunshine from a mostly shady route. Ade lead out a rope to the real summit a little way north for photos and snacks. Rapped without incident, nice bolt anchors mostly following our belays.

Back to the tent feeling good. Ate as much food as possible to reduce the amount to carry out.

Tue 22 July

Up, pack and hiked out. Downhill trip went easily and soon back to parking lot. Rolled up chicken wire and headed out to Golden for lunch. Back over Roger’s pass and through Revelstoke heading west. Arrive in Penticton mid-evening, grease and beer at brewpub.

Wed 23 July

Rain. Bummed around town and went to visit the Cannery Brewery (good tour). Very passable fish and chips at “Lord Chumley’s” for dinner.

Thu 24 July

Sun. Climbed at Skaha bluffs. Tricked by easy bolted 5.9 slabs into then getting a lesson from some 5.10a trad cracks.

Fri 25 July

Sun again. Half-day at Skaha and then off home to Seattle. Some good 9’s and 10a’s – Ade more inclined to push it with a 10a than me!


2008 Original version on http://www.cs.cornell.edu/people/simeon 2014-10-27 Reformatted as markdown, minor edits