Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bugaboos 8 Years Later

For 6 days the sun was shinning, routes were dry, and glacier travel was perfect for tennis shoes. Those were the conditions I experienced 8 years ago when I last visited the Bugaboos. Unheard of conditions! Two weeks ago, Kyle and I experienced a different story.

After 6 days of work since Washington, weather in the Bugs was looking good so Kyle and I thought we had our second chance. When we got there, things looked a bit different. Warm temps had the glaciers melting out earlier in the season causing bad rock fall and sloppy conditions to travel on. The main access to the Vowell glacier, snowpatch-bugaboo col was experiencing horrible rock fall and nearly no one was using it. The alternative was a nightmare of an approach. We chose to take our chances with the rock fall.

Applebee Dome
We ascended the col at about 6am minimizing our exposure to rock fall. Everything went fine. We were heading to North Howser so we started traveling through a maze of crevasses heading for the north col. We descended from the north col on what appeared to be the correct path. After awhile, it was clear that we were lost. We retraced our path and after 8 hours on the go decided to bivy at the col and try again in the morning.

Approaching the Snowpatch-Bugaboo col

On top of the col

Navigating through crevasses

It was obvious when we started the next morning we were still exhausted. With little energy and minimal food, we decided we'd chalk this one up to "paying our dues" and head to snowpatch to climb.

Bivy at the North col

Sunset from the col

Looking down the Vowell glacier

Climbing went smooth, but weather was starting to move in. We descended quickly, grabbed our other gear and headed for the "long way" descent to camp. The weather finally caught us during 600ft of rappeling. It broke for a bit, but really slammed us when we neared the hut. We took refuge in the hut for an hour while the weather passed then headed to camp. The forecast had turned bad so we decided to get one more short climb in the next day then hike out.

Looking down mid route

Kyle on the final pitch

Celebrating climbing and not slogging

When the rain stopped

We woke up to clear skies and dried our gear out. When everything was dry we headed to McTech Arete to climb "Energy Crisis". A beautiful two pitch stem corner...awesome! The climb was great and afterwards we packed up and hiked out.

Approaching McTech Arete

Energy Crisis

We weren't too far from Lake Louise so we headed there for a day of cragging before coming back to Missoula.

Lake Louise


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