It is the third day of our second stay in the Bugs for the season. We climbed Surf's Up the day before and hiked to the Applebee Campground in brutal heat two days ago. We should probably just take a rest day, but we've heard about a low pressure system coming in and really want to give "Sunshine" a go (this climb was our main motivation to return to the Bugs).

Unfortunately, it is really really cold. We hike to the base mid-morning hoping to get started around 10 AM or so. The traverse to the base is really icy and we have to put our crampons on. It is absolutely freezing... We're debating whether to give up. We wait at the base for almost two hours hoping for the temperature to rise… it does not much. Eventually, we decide to give it a go.

At least the route is also the descent so we're not committing ourselves too much. Also, our guidebook only mentions a couple of pitches of 10a, but most of the route looks like 5.8 and 5.9... So this should be not big deal. We do the math - moving at half-an-hour per pitch (our normal speed on pitches rated 10a and under), we should reach the top of the route around 5:30pm, which should give us plenty of time to rap back down.

Well, we must have the wrong guidebook! The route turns out much harder than advertised, which would have been OK except that - had we known this - we would have started a little earlier than 1 PM and I would have really insisted on carrying two headlamps (he said we would not need it so I only took one... more on this later).

The route turns out to be long, sustained, and very physical. We're tired from the last two days and very cold. We get a little sun here and there but the sky remains cloudy for the most part (except at the end of the afternoon). We're not able to enjoy the route as much as we'd like. We're racing the sun up. Eric begins to cramp half-way up. Not much I can do to help him. No way would I lead 10+ when my hands are frozen. We almost rap down but Eric wants to keep going - who knows when we will be able to come back and have another shot at this magnificent route!

We keep going. We're passed the unpleasant offwidth and the hard roofs, so we might as well press on. I decline to lead the easier pitches near the top in the interest of time.

It's 7 PM and we're pretty pooped when we reach the "nirvana" pitch, an incredible hand crack in a flawless granite.

We top out at 8:30 PM, snap a couple of pictures and start rapping down.

We start the raps in the sun, but find most anchors in really bad shape (nuts, pitons, and a mess of rotten slings). It takes us a while re-rigging the anchors (and we thought this would be nine straightforward raps!).

Eventually, we continue rapping straight down instead of following the climbing route left (climber's left). This brings us over a huge arch and onto the steep slabs below. Actually a much better rap route than following the climb as there are no threatening cracks to catch the rope. Problem is: it is getting dark by the minute and we only have one headlamp. I give my headlamp to Eric so he can head down first and look for an anchor. I put myself on rap before he starts down so the only thing I'll have to do in the dark is unclip myself from the anchor. Still pretty spooky. To top it off, Eric cannot find any established anchor. We end up leaving behind 3 nuts, two cordelettes, and a double-length sling. Oh well. It is pitch dark by the time we reach the base again. We still have to traverse across icy sections to gain the snow slopes of the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col.

We're back at camp around midnight. We both feel like we've had enough of the alpine experience for a while - at least for today... tomorrow will definitely be a rest day.

"Sunshine" is a fantastic climb. Wish we could have enjoyed it more. We're talking about doing it again, with two headlamps and well rested; and hopefully with some sun this time !

I also really got paranoid about the headlamp thing. You will catch me insisting on carrying two headlamps on a two pitch climb even if we start in the early morning...

 

Snowpatch Spire, Sunshine Crack

July 31, 2004 / 5.11-, 10 pitches, trad.
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Sunshine is on the north side of Snowpatch Spire.
 
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Two climbers high on "Sunshine Crack" (pitch 8 belay).
 
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Eric starting pitch 1.
 
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Higher on pitch 1.
 
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Pitch 1.
 
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At the belay on top of pitch 1.
 
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Pitch 2.
 
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Traversing right on pitch 2..
 
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Pitch 3.
 
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Looking across the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col.
 
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Pitch 4.
 
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Two climbers descending the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col, about to cross the bergshrund.
 
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Pitch 5.
 
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Higher on pitch 5.
 
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Pitch 6.
 
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Turning the roof on pitch 6.
 
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Pitch 7. A nice long pitch.
 
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Higher on pitch 7.
 
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And higher still.
 
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Pitch 8.
 
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Views from the belay.
 
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Belay atop pitch 8.
 
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Pitch 9 - the perfect 5.10 crack you came for.
 
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Taking a breather before pushing on.
 
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Higher on this beautiful pitch.
 
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Reaching the belay.
 
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Views from the last belay.
 
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Starting the last pitch (pitch 10).
 
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At the top of the climb.
 
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Views from the top.
 
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Eric starting the first rappel.
 
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The sun is setting down slowly...
 
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Lucie rapping down Pitch 7 (after that we rapped around the corner).
 
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Back at the base - a bit tired!
(high res. images are about 300KB)