It's our second stay in the Bugaboos this season. Having left most of our gear at the Applebee Campground at the end of our first stay, we just hiked to the campground with light packs the day before. The hike in was brutally hot!

The next morning, the weather looks iffy and the camp is packed full - it's a long holiday week-end (BC day). Climbers are still arriving in the middle of the night and we do not get much sleep because of all the riff-raff. We still decide to go up to the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col and check out the climbs on the West face of Snowpatch. We had a few lines in mind: "Super Direct", "Wildflowers" and "Furry Pink Arete". After taking a look at the face, we've lost much of our enthusiasm. The rock appears to be very mossy and the lines themselves are not that obvious. It is cloudy and very cold. We continue on to the right edge of the face to take a look at "Surf's Up", a 5.9 route that is supposed to be particularly good and popular.

The bottom pitches don't look so good. We sit there wondering what to do. The weather is pretty threatening and the summit ridge of Snowpatch is not where you want to be in a storm. We're pretty close to giving up when we see two other climbers approaching. Time to go! As is often the case, competition for a route is a great motivator. We scramble further up to the rope-up point and get ready quickly. The other two are two climbers from Maine we met during our first four-day stay! They end up going up the "Kraus-Mc Carthy Route".

The first three pitches of Surf's Up are so-so. They follow awkward flakes and corners on rounded, mossy rock. Feels insecure. We're racing up though because of the weather. Once we traverse right to Surf's Up ledge, the rock gets much better: still rounded features but clean rock. Lumpy-esque (living in New Mexico, we spend many week-ends climbing at Lumpy Ridge). Lucie leads up the beautiful cracks to the ridge. The weather has also taken a turn for the better.

From the top of the route, we simul-climb along the ridge to the summit block, sign the register, snap pictures, and move back down a few meters to the notch and the first rap anchor (chains!). Straightforward raps bring us back down to the scree near the base of the face.

A quick scramble and we're back at our packs. Lucie had carried her boots up, anticipating that we would rap down to the glacier and have to cross snow back to the packs… not the case. The other guys are still 2 pitches below the ridge when we leave. A good climb because it goes to the summit, but otherwise nothing exceptional...

Snowpatch Spire, Surfs Up

July 30, 2004 / 5.9, 9 pitches, trad.
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The complex West Face of Snowpatch Spire.
 
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Somewhere on the approach.
 
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Surf's Up follows a line of corners and crack systems on the West Face right of Snowpatch Spire.
 
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Eric starting pitch 1, which follows indistinct corners and flakes on mossy rock.
 
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Higher on pitch 1.
 
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Low on the second pitch.
 
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Eric higher on pitch 2.
 
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Views of Pigeon Spire.
 
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Eric starting pitch 3 (5.9).
 
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Eric higher on pitch 3 (the alcove belay is just above him).
 
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Looking toward the Howser Towers.
 
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The finger crack just below Surf's Up Ledge (pitch 4).
 
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On Surf's Up ledge...
 
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...with Pigeon and the Howser Towers in the background.
 
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Pitch 5, one of the best pitches on the route.
 
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Higher up on pitch 5 (5.9).
 
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Lucie starting Pitch 6, a great 5.8 handcrack.
 
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Higher up on pitch 6.
 
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Pigeon and the Howser Towers - again! (definitely my favorite Bugaboo formations)
 
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Looking down the Snowpatch-Pigeon col icefall.
 
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Starting pitch 7 (5.7), another fun pitch.
 
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Lucie higher on pitch 7.
 
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Top of pitch 7.
 
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Easy terrain to join the summit ridge.
 
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Ditto.
 
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Looking back toward the Bugaboo Spire...
 
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...and the Applebee campground.
 
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Summit shot (South summit).
 
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Posing on the south summit of Snowpatch Spire...
 
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...with the summit registrer.
 
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Descending one of the short steps just below the summit toward the Kraus-McCarthy rappel route.
 
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Rapping down (1st rap).
 
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Back at the base of the climb.
 
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Heading back to camp with Pigeon Spire in the background.
 
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Descending the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col (still above the snow slopes).
 
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On the snow slopes just below the col.
(high res. images are about 300KB)