Trip Report
Bugaboos: Pikas, Gushers and Honey
Thursday September 5, 2013 3:13pm
Credit: chick_on_ice

Hari and I met for the first time in a coffee shop about two days before we went climbing in the Bugs. I had caught a ride to the airport with one of his friends when I needed to get from a climbing day at Lover's Leap to a business trip in Minneapolis, who suggested I contact him. And so, another climbing partnership was born through the power of internet stalking (I had to find his email somehow) and some-guy-who-gave-me-a-ride's reference (thanks Brad!).

Credit: chick_on_ice

[disclaimer: about half of these photos are Hari's]
If you've never been to the Bugs (or heard of them, which was my case until Hari emailed me about them 3 weeks ago), they're gorgeous granite spires that are formed by pluon magma chambers that cool and erode. Also, did you know feldspar makes up 60% of the world's crust and that you can take ancient horse teeth to extract isotopes and date the age of the soil?

The benefits of travelling with a Ph.D in geochemistry are countless. I secretly played the 'point and ask' game to see if I could stump him by pointing at random rocks or formations and say "what's that and how was it made". Guys, let me tell you: Hari knows his sh#t about rocks.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Some of those pluons Hari was talking about on our approach in
We broke up our Seattle to Bugs drive in half and camped on some logging road in the middle of Canadia for a night. Arriving, one must secure the vehicle with chickenwire and stakes to keep pesky antifreeze-loving porcupines away.

Credit: chick_on_ice


I used my dad's old soviet-era crampons, but made a last-minute decision to use approach shoes with them instead of my boots. They weren't adjusted (what a noob move) so there were some shenanigans involved with using an ice ax to hold the screw in place and some pliers to rotate the nut. Below, yours truly is pictured wrassling some crampons.
Credit: chick_on_ice

One thing I've so far failed to mention is that Hari is a cardio machine. No, you don't understand. This guy runs a 10k in under 29 min. That's 6+ miles at a 4:30min/mile pace. So.....yeah......then there's me. At my best I could run a 5:10 mile. For one mile on a flat track. Then I would lie gasping for breathe like a gutted fish recovering. Did I mention that Hari just got off an expedition on Lhotse and is gunning to become a Snow Leopard? That's a lot of 7000m stuff he's done, so bottom line is: altitude, cardio is not a problem for this guy.

I dreaded the initial approach, but it wasn't that bad and to my great relief, Hari didn't speed demon his way to the top and instead took some lovely pictures.

Credit: chick_on_ice

We had reservations at the Kain hut so we were living the cush lifestyle. We brought IPA's, glass-jar marinara, tortellini, a pint of honey that miraculously didn't spill in my pack, brie cheese and all sorts of other luxuries that we could flaunt in front of the other climbers that scrimped on weight and were eating dehydrated muesli. Who said camping food couldn't be good?

Credit: chick_on_ice

Our luxury accommodations

So climbing. The Col wasn't too bad, although people were saying it was in poor condition. I mean, the steps were kicked in, and yes there was a giant, gaping chasm void to cross, and yes there was lots of rockfall, but we quickly climbed up and down with no problems while other groups set up three rappels instead of quickly downclimbing.

Credit: chick_on_ice

The gaping void you could skirt the edges of

In my opinion, the faster you get your ass out of the danger rockfall zone, the better, so downclimbing was the logical choice.

Credit: chick_on_ice


Approaching the Col and going into step-kicking overdrive.

Credit: chick_on_ice

More pictures of climbing the Col.

Credit: chick_on_ice
....and downclimbing the Col.

Credit: chick_on_ice

We mostly stuck to moderates on this trip, although I scouted routes I really, really want to do the next time I'm up here (sunshine crack and Beckey-Chouinard I'm coming after you! Maybe next time I'll actually bring two ropes instead of stupidly only bringing one!)

Credit: chick_on_ice

We literally raced up Pigeon Spire and did it in 5 hrs hut to hut. Simuling the whole thing was less climbing and more a cardio workout with occasional stops to take a photo or two.

Credit: chick_on_ice

View of the Howsers and the B-C that is gonna go down the next time I can get up here.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Damn this place is picturesque as f*#k.

Credit: chick_on_ice

I discovered that Gushers make delicious gu-like treats up on climbs.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Credit: chick_on_ice

We climbed McTech Arete on a day when it seemed like it might rain in the afternoon.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Here's a photo of your's truly practicing some of those Gunks-style roof techniques. *Sniff* it was so long ago since my first trad leads when my climbing partner, and who I considered a friend, sicked me on Modern Times. Good times. Thanks Mert the Marmot, couldn't have done it without ya!

Credit: chick_on_ice


Credit: chick_on_ice

Topping out is always a delight.

Credit: chick_on_ice
The rappels are also pretty gorgeous.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Hari was obsessed with pikas and marmots. I swear there were more pictures of marmots and other rodents on his camera than of me. But you have to agree that they are pretty cute.

Credit: chick_on_ice

The heli is rescuing some poor dudes that got their rope stuck on sunshine.

Credit: chick_on_ice

One of the luxuries that Hari brought was his laptop. Here the geologist can be seen in his natural element hard at work on a letter of intent during a rainy day (the weather up here was bipolar).

Credit: chick_on_ice

I had exactly 1.36 lbs of honey with me (pictured bottom right corner), and I wanted to somehow get it on the wall with me, so I ingeniously devised a way to do so by pouring the honey into drained Tennessee Honey Whiskey bottles.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Everyone said it wouldn't work, but I'm calling bullsh#t. It worked like a charm. Insta-fuel.

Credit: chick_on_ice

We climbed some other things, but the most beautiful (and of which I have lots of photos) was the Ridge of Bugaboo Spire. It was our last day, and it was pretty long. 12 hrs hut to hut and then 30 min of packing up and racing down to the car to beat the sunset and get food.

Credit: chick_on_ice

We left the hut around 7am, and the dew (and rain from the previous day) had frozen during the night, making for some interesting climbing.

Credit: chick_on_ice

The climbing was super easy technically (max 5.8), but there was snow on most of the belay ledges and verglass on the rocks, so foot-slipping on 5th class stuff and numb, cold fingers from gripping snow and ice holds kept things exciting.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Two dudes letting us pass on the snowy path

Here's a photo of a squeeze chimney I stupidly decided to climb with my pack on. Of course my ice ax got caught and I thrashed for a few minutes while trying to get myself unstuck. Hooray for alpine climbing! When else will you be carrying boots, ax and crampons on your back.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Below is a photo of a hollow flake I really wasn't too fond of leading. There was no reliable pro and the whole thing kinda moved at one point, so I had an exciting 50' runout sprint to the top. Below, Hari obliviously follows what I thought was the scariest part of the whole climb.

Credit: chick_on_ice


The views were incredible.

Credit: chick_on_ice

I got to practice my ridge humping and route-finding techniques on the summit traverse.

Credit: chick_on_ice

Credit: chick_on_ice

Credit: chick_on_ice

This place is amazing. We got back to the hut, stuffed all our stuff in our packs and then ran down the trail (pretty sure it was more of a walk for Hari, but I was definitely running behind him). We drove the dirt road to the nearest town to try to find food, but the only place open was a gelato store.

Credit: chick_on_ice

We ate a dinner of ice cream and then, from a tip from a local I was chatting to, drove another 1:30 to some wild hot springs. By 1 am we had located these wonderful geologic bathhouses and were able to wash off all the grime of the last 19 hours in ridiculously hot springs before crashing for the night and the long drive back to Seattle.

Bugs, I'm coming back for sure!

  Trip Report Views: 2,537
chick_on_ice
About the Author
chick_on_ice is a trad climber from too many places to name.

Comments
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10b4me

climber
  Sep 5, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Sweet. Good job.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 5, 2013 - 04:56pm PT
Soooo goooood. Great photos and an inspiring trip. Thanks so much for the trip report. That scary flake gave me the willies!

Scott
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Sep 5, 2013 - 05:01pm PT

BEEYOOTIFUL~!!!!!!!

Thanks for sharing!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Sep 5, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
Thanks for the nice report.
Hari is pretty cool for somebody so fast (I've climbed with him, too).
The col is looking pretty sketchy - going a little earlier would help, although it could be more crowded, too.

The Bugaboos is one of my favorite places - went there with my dad in 1974 and have gone back about every 10 years since. Finally did the B-C my last time there, but there were many other good routes along the way, too. Like Snowpatch Spire (I've done it 4 times over the years...):
http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/britishcolumbia/bugaboos2007#aug9
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Sep 5, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
You had a delightful trip to our country ; loved your Squamish TR as well. Thanks for the excellent pix & stories. Look fwd to more !

Fabulous !
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Sep 5, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
Jeez, when did they build a hotel there?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Sep 5, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
It was there in '74, although it was free then.
I am thinking they still don't have internet there, but who knows.
They did seem to have some kind of a mini-hydro electric power generator there in 2007 (or maybe it was just a water inlet).
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Sep 5, 2013 - 06:16pm PT
Thanks for posting Nat! Was great to meet you earlier this summer!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 5, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
*note to self, Huts are good.
pvalchev

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Sep 5, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
Sweet, what an awesome first trip to the Bugs!! Now you will be obsessed for life :)
harryhotdog

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Sep 6, 2013 - 01:03am PT
That was a downright enjoyable TR with so many pics, the more the better I say. I was surprised how little snow is left on the Bug-Snowpatch col. Wise decision to move quickly while down climbing. I witnessed a fatality caused by rockfall at that very location 29 years ago and rockfall looks far more likely now than it did then.
pvalchev

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Sep 6, 2013 - 03:55pm PT
We witnessed a car-sized chunk fall down the col a month ago while climbing Sunshine Crack. Scary as hell, went through 1/3 of the climbing path - nobody there would have had a chance. Time was about 3pm - a couple of hours later there were a dozen people coming down it... luck, and nothing more to it. Going up and down that col is rolling dice, and the faster you are out of there, the better.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
  Sep 6, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
Great TR, beautiful pixs. I was last in the Bugs. in the mid-70s. Even though I am well aware of global warming/glacial recession I am still amazed/depressed by the lack of snow cover up there as shown in your photos compared to what I experienced in the 60s-70s.
harryhotdog

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Sep 6, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
This is how I remember it in mid august in the 80's




This is 2007

Credit: mountain project Joe Leonhard
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Sep 6, 2013 - 06:41pm PT

July 1974, after a storm the previous day

The month matters. You just have to go earlier now, I guess.


Bugaboo glacier, 1974. It has receded a lot and the trail has been relocated, too.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Sep 6, 2013 - 09:59pm PT
Looks like a grand adventure. I really enjoyed your report.

lars
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Sep 6, 2013 - 10:41pm PT
What a difference a month makes!

Snowpatch-Bugaboo Col, third week in July, 2013.
Snowpatch-Bugaboo Col, third week in July, 2013.
Credit: marty(r)

Thanks for sharing. The black and white images are great!
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Sep 6, 2013 - 10:52pm PT
This is a stunning TR...
Your photos are spectacular!

Thanks for sharing your adventure!
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Sep 6, 2013 - 11:11pm PT
Sweet TR. Thanks.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Sep 6, 2013 - 11:14pm PT
Ah! The fun you young-folks have.

Thank you for taking the time to post your adventure! It was great fun to read & see!


I enjoyed 3 trips to the Bugs in in 1970's.

In 1972, a Grizzly bear was the problem in the Bugs parking lot.

Credit: Fritz

I will agree that the E. Ridge of Bugaboo Spire is a great route.

In Sept 1972, it was a little threatening, but we got up it in a long day in 1975.

Credit: Fritz

The climbing gear has changed.
Credit: Fritz

We brought our whole 1972 rack to the Bugs for this photo. I don't think we ever drove a piton or used a ice-screw.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Sep 6, 2013 - 11:40pm PT
But dammit all, Fritz, you had four hammers to throw at whatever crack or yeti you encountered! Beyond rad, all around!
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Sep 6, 2013 - 11:51pm PT
Awesome stuff! Gushers are the best backcountry snack in history!!!!

-Daniel
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 7, 2013 - 03:18pm PT
Awesome TR, I've always wanted to go there!!!
Nice ice chick!!!
Love the old gear fritz!!!
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Sep 7, 2013 - 05:25pm PT
Picturesque as f*#k
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Sep 7, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
Thanks for the tr.....special place, eh.
socialclimber

climber
CA
  Sep 7, 2013 - 10:42pm PT
That was really great! Plotting my own adventure...

charles
Jeff(m)

Trad climber
Pittsburgh
  Sep 8, 2013 - 11:41am PT
Great TR - looks like you had a great trip. Thanks for posting!

It is amazing to see how much the conditions changed in a month.
Lasti

Trad climber
Budapest
  Sep 8, 2013 - 11:56am PT
You are obviously having too much fun.

Great TR

Lasti
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