Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bugaboos- Lentils or TVP, Eh?

After a week of climbing in the Bugaboos, our rope was starting to look like a furry caterpillar.  Concerned that our rope could core shot at any moment, we decided to skip repeating another established route and focus on establishing a new route.

Cool pattern in the snow.
After hiking around East Creek Basin for a couple of days, we decided to establish a route on the Pigeon Feather Spire.  The short approach, and obvious line made it a logical choice.

Ben at the base.
 So up we went into the unknown.  The first pitch was a great 5.8 corner, with a tricky right trending lieback to an amazing belay ledge directly below P2.

Ben on P1.
Ben below the crux of P1.
 Pitch 2 was a great 5.10- with a perfect hand crack start and a thought provoking stemming crux right at the end.  This pitch also ends on a ledge.

Taylor ready for P2.
Taylor on P2 hand crack.
Taylor below the crux of P2.
The 3rd pitch was a scramble up and left to the edge of the huge corner system and below a steep, lichen covered wall.  At first it's unclear where to go, but after a moment we realized that we had to traverse right along a huge handrail for about 20 feet, and then follow a left trending crack up the center of the wall.

Taylor on the airy traverse of P4.
The position, and exposure were amazing, unfortunately, the entire pitch was covered with lichen.  I made the traverse and started up the crack without any issues but about 20 feet up, a huge block that was wedged in the crack shifted as I tried to climb past.  With Ben in the rock's fall zone, I gently climbed past the loose block, and set up a belay in a small nook when the rope drag got ridiculous.  Ben followed cleaning the loose block.  The steep pumpy nature of this pitch probably warrants 5.10-.

Taylor in the middle of a lichen sea on P4.
Pitch 5 follows an easy ramp/crack to the base of a short 5.9 off-width and then continues to the ridge.  Once again, a belay was set up when rope drag became an issue.

Ben on P5.  Lots of lichen...
Ben past the OW section of P5
 The last two pitches follow the ridge, staying on the right side when large features block progress.  The view is amazing!

Looking back along the first pitch of the ridge traverse.
 An easy rappel gets you to the base of Crack of Noon where you can reach the glacier.  We decided to call it Lentils or TVP, eh? for reason I won't get into.  We both agreed that pitches 1 and 2 were excellent and the route as a whole was fun and would only get better with some traffic- especially pitches 4 and 5.

A view of the ridge from the glacier.
With rain in the forecast, and our rope on the verge of a coreshot, we decided it was time to leave.  So the next day, we gave away as much food as we could, packed up our stuff and started the grueling five hour hike out.

Packing up.
One more picture of the BC

Our lives got progressively better as we got closer to the car.  The crampons came off, the shorts went on, water was easier to get, and  solid ground allowed our progress to speed up.  I was ecstatic when we reached the car.  Flip flops and sitting in a car have never felt so good!

5 hours downhill + 80lb pack = not psyched!
 Here are a coupe of Topo pictures of Lentils or TVP, eh?

From ECB Campground.
At the base of the route.
More info on this route can be found at http://www.mountainproject.com/v/lentils-or-tvp-eh/107748316.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bugaboos- Fingerberry Jam

The Beckey-Chouinard had worn us out, but the weather was good so we had to climb.  So we decided to take a Bugaboos "rest day" and do a "short" route with a "small" approach.  The obvious choice was Fingerberry Jam, a seven pitch 12a.  Makes sense...

Fingerberry Jam ascends the clean, white panel of rock on the right side of the Fingerberry Tower.
As we approached the route, we nervously stared up at the first pitch- a very thin 5.11a finger crack.  Although it was more like 11c, it took great gear and climbed brilliantly ending just below a small roof.

A great view of the Beckey-Chouinard.

The second pitch pulls the roof and continues up a perfect finger crack.  About 30 feet up the crack V's.  Head left into a corner and over a roof to the next belay station.  Unfortunately, I headed right, which led me into a hideous flared crack that pinched down to a slopey offset feature.  I had to aid past about 10 feet to reach easier terrain and then tension traverse to the left to reach the already mentioned belay.  If anyone is interested, the pitch I aided would probably be around 13a.

The third pitch is the crux.  An easy hands section leads to opposing 5.11 thin seams which require stemming skills to pass.   More 5.10 Fingers and hands bring you to a hard left traverse into another 5.10 corner that eventually turns into a hollow flake traverse out right to a nice belay ledge.  Poor route finding skills lead me past the hard traverse and straight into a dead end at the top of the original crack.  Damn!

Looking up at the 12a pitch.
Taylor High on P3.
Taylor on P3.  So proud of Ben for taking some pictures!

The fourth pitch is an amazing 5.10 obtuse corner system.  I might say that this was the best pitch on the route.  Certainly the least stressful.

Ben starting up P4.

Ben higher up on P4
From here things kind of deteriorate.  Unbeknownst to us, most people rappel off after P4, doing the best pitches, and forgetting about the summit and the hassles of getting off the formation.  In other words, a nice short day of climbing.

The view from the top of P4.
However, we didn't know this so we pushed on towards the summit and into a part of the route that few people climb. All the sudden, the good rock and easy route finding turns into tiptoeing on choss and wondering where to go.

Pitch 4 is a 30 foot 5.8 corner crack that ends in a notch. Pitch 5 climbs into a 5.9 corner filled with hollow flakes and lichen that pops you out on a ledge.  Pitch 6 is low angle face with more hollow flakes and huge blocks that heads up and left and then right towards the summit. 

Ben on P6.
Cool formation.
Once you are on top, keep heading North to a rappel station that gets you off the Fingerberry Tower, but not on the glacier. 

The Fingerberry Tower rappel.
Ben on the rap onto the snow.
So instead of a short day of climbing, Fingerberry Jam turned into a full day of hard climbing, difficult route finding, and a stressful decent.  Typical Bugaboos stuff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bugaboos- Beckey-Chouinard

After a rainy and miserable three hour slog to East Creek Basin, we set up camp below The Beckey Chouinard.  This was the ultimate objective for our trip, and the line didn't disappoint.

The BC follows the skyline.
Since an electrical storm rolled in when we arrived, we watched some climbers retreating just below the white headwall.  A reminder of the unpredictable weather in the Bugaboos.

After the weather cleared up we spent the evening greeting the other climbers and learned that we had a celebrity in our midst.  More on that later...

No shit!
We woke up at 5:30am and were approaching the route by 7:00am.  We soloed the first 1000 feet of easy slab and roped up at the first 5.8 corner.  From there we simul-climbed all the way to the first 5.10 pitch.  At this point, we ran into another party and the process dramatically slowed.

Me on the first 5.10 pitch.  Notice the guy above me.
Another picture of the first 5.10 pitch.  I am just below the crux.
Ben on the tails of another party.
First view of the headwall.
Looking up at the second 5.10 pitch.
After a few more pitches, we ran into two more parties that graciously let us pass.

A nice view of the lower half of the BC.  Also note the other parties on the ledge.

The route finding was simple, and every pitch threw something different at you.  Most of the climbing was wide, slightly flared, and thuggy, but the occasional finger crack and roof kept things interesting.  Gear placements are abundant, and I never felt runout or scared.  Belays are very obvious, and higher up you simply climb until the end of the rope and set up a station instead of worrying about the "right" belay spot.

A typical pitch at the top of the BC.
Me on the 5.10 traverse at the top of the route.
The ridge traverse was not trivial.  After the initial rappel, we had no idea exactly where it went so we just kept heading up and right.  Some of the spots had 5.6ish moves and I was very glad to be roped up.

Me on the summit of the BC.
The rappel was fully bolted and fairly easy to find.  We had a 60 meter rope and a 6mm tag line which worked great.  Without a tag line, you would probably need a 70 meter rope.

I think we got off route on the second to last rappel...
Final rappel over a schrund to reach the glacier.
One the way back to camp I kept imagining how much different the route was in 1961 when it was put up.  No crowds, no topo, way more involved decent, less advanced equipment.  This route was a true adventure.

Which brings me back to the mystery climbing legend.  It was Fred Beckey!  It was his first trip back to East Creek in 51 years!  He is 89 years old and still climbing.

Me with Fred.
Fred walking to the helicopter pick up site.  I was really nervous watching him walk across the snow.
Anyways, I had to get my picture with him.  Thanks Fred!  You are truly inspiring! 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Mt. Evans- Area D

On Sunday we headed up to Area D on Mount Evans.  This is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever climbed.  Unfortunately, large sections of these massive boulders fail to offer climbable features so there aren't very many boulder problems.

Looking up valley at the Black Wall.
However, the problems that we did climb were very nice.  Here is a video of Alex Kordick climbing a possible FA between Equitos and The Nothing.  We thought it was hard V6.

A few were interested in trying The Nothing V8- a 35 foot problem with the business at the start and a nice victory romp to the top.

Metro cleaning The Nothing.
A video of Mark "Metro" Avery onsighting the classic highball, The Nothing. 

The hike out is much longer than Lincoln Lake but the views are rewarding.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bugaboos- Divine Intervention and Paddle Flake.

We spent the next two days "recovering" from the hike and climbing near Applebee Campground.  The weather forecast warned of afternoon storms so we decided to keep our days short .

Snowpatch in the background.
Our first objective was a newish route on Bugaboos Spire called Divine Intervention 5.11b.  The route is 10 pitches but the best rock, and hardest pitches are pitches 1-5.  Plus, you can rappel off after the fifth pitch meaning you don't have to climb with boots, crampons, etc. making it a great choice for a mellow day.

Unfortunately, we didn't take very many pictures, but the route is very nice and the rock will only improve with time.  Overall the route is very well protected, and the climbing tackles inspiring features with a great mix of classic crack climbing and interesting face moves.  I blew the onsight by going left instead of right on P5 which lead me up a crack system that dead ended.  Too hard to downclimb, I set a really good nut, and bailed.  SCARY!!!  Oh well...

Looking up at P5.  Go right at the roof!
View of Applebee Campground from Bugaboo Spire.

Ben rappelling P3.
The next day, we decided to climb Paddle Flake 5.10 on Crescent Spire.  It follows a prominent corner system for four pitches to the base of a handsome headwall.

The lower pitches are very polished, requiring stemming, good footwork and faith in small gear at times.  The upper pitches get steeper, testing your endurance.  Definitely a classic route, but a bit short.

The scariest thing about this route is simply getting to the rock.  To get to the start of P1 I had to solo 40 feet of steep snow, kicking steps with my rock shoes and using a nut tool to as a mini ice axe.  I swear I almost fell at the top!

P1 of Paddle Flake 5.9. 
The upper pitches.
Ben at the beginning of P3 5.10a.
Ben inspecting the crux of P3.
Ben at the crux of P3.
Taylor on P4 5.10 hands.  Really nice and steep pitch.
Au cheval the top of P4.  Classic alpine move!
Ben on P5.
The view from the back of Crescent Spire.

Bugaboo Spire.

Ben rappelling.  Applebee Campground in the upper left corner.
At the end of the day I realized that I had some tea from a broken teabag floating around at the bottom of my pack.  Undaunted by the fact that it had been there for over six months, I scooped it out and brewed the most amazing cup of tea ever!

My reward for the day.  
Hey, I packed it in, so don't judge me.  And no, I am not addicted to caffeine.  Although it's debatable whether my headache was caused by dehydration or caffeine withdrawal.

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