Trip Report
The Bugaboos: The Piton-less Playground, Part 2
Friday August 16, 2013 10:03pm
Long-awaited, not stale-dated. Here's the second installment of my trip to the Bugaboos in July. (The first edition can be found here.)

Aerial image of the Howser massif courtesy of Steph Abegg.
Aerial image of the Howser massif courtesy of Steph Abegg.
Credit: marty(r)

"A mountaineer may be satisfied to nurse his athletic infancy upon home rocks, and he may be happy to pass the later years of his experience among the more elusive impressions and more subtle romance of our old and quiet hills. But in the storm years of his strength he should test his powers, learn his craft and earn his triumphs with the abrupt youth and warlike habit of the great glacial ranges." Geoffrey Winthrop Young, quoted on the frontice page of Coonyard's Climbing Ice

Staying at the Conrad Hain hut may not gain you much alpine-hardman street cred, but at least you'll be well positioned to gloat and relax when some poor bastard tips over a near-lethal blue can beneath the latrine at Applebee Camp.

After several days of bluebird days, the rustbelt crew had found a rhythm: Damon healed his blistered feet and flirted like a pro, Rob revealed boundless energy, and Felix schooled us all in the intricacies of Settlers of Catan (little of which I retained.) While Jeff had, and I quote, had "wood for sheep," it was clearly time to feel small in the deep water. The Beckey-Chouinard was calling.

"The Beckey-Chouinard [198] is the Bugaboos classic and one of the mos...
"The Beckey-Chouinard [198] is the Bugaboos classic and one of the most esteemed alpine routes in North America"~from the Atkinson/Piche guidebook
Credit: marty(r)

Mind you, I'd only met Felix at baggage claim in Calgary at the start of the week, and Jeff a day later. 20 plus pitches with a lengthy approach and nebulous descent, likely in the dark, hut-to-hut for a trio of sea-level dwellers, how bad could it get?

Felix D., fit for battle.
Felix D., fit for battle.
Credit: marty(r)

Dawn patrol rituals began at midnight. 40W espresso was brewed, moleskin applied, and snacks were devoured. By 1am we were in motion. By this point in the trip the way over the Snowpatch-Bugaboo was feeling familiar. All the same, we were careful to not punch through any rogue crevasses. By six we had passed the East Creek bivy and found water flowing beneath the boulders. We'd come across some awesome critter prints in the snow. Mountain lions have been found in the more remote parts of the Bugaboos but these were likely wolverine tracks. That, or the Sleestak from the Land of the Lost. We were still a little tired.

Hello kitty.
Hello kitty.
Credit: marty(r)

A thousand feet of scrambling in moist approach shoes brought us to a logical spot to rope up. Jam, bleed, repeat. Jeff handled it with aplomb.

Jeff M., man for all seasons.
Jeff M., man for all seasons.
Credit: marty(r)

The rock on the lower half of the route was incredibly coarse and I was coming to regret my adherence to the dictum of tape is aid.

We were passed by a family of low-key crushers from Salt Lake. George and Logan, if you're out there, we were mightily impressed!

Above Big Sandy, my cloven hooves and diminutive fists found purchase in a pitch of the wide. The real treat, though, was leading the fingers pitch of the headwall.

Credit: marty(r)

At some point, though, I must've maxed out my reserve of calories. It was all I could do to follow Felix through the thin edging crux of pitch 14. We'd been on the go for about 18 hours at this point and I was starting to lose the plot a bit. Jeff's sourpatch gummie worms helped, but thunderous rockfall beneath the Central Howser Tower had us on edge.

Nightfall caught us just as we puzzled over the rappels. Myriad shenanigans ensued but we touched down on the far side of the 'shrund at around 1am. We'd cached some food and coffee back at the far col but opted to just stumble hut-ward and call it a day.

Thanks, Friends of the Bugaboos! Beefy anchors are righteous.
Thanks, Friends of the Bugaboos! Beefy anchors are righteous.
Credit: marty(r)

All in all, we were in motion for 28 hours. We stemmed, crimped, jammed, and applied several decades-worth of experience to make it all happen. Grades are almost meaningless with something that large. Cruxes blend with the cruiser terrain, and, in the end, I think my earlobes even got pumped.

A foam mat on the floor of a warm hut has likely never felt as good as the one I collapsed onto, just before sunrise.

***

Post-script: Big, big thanks to Rick, Jeff, Felix and all the kind folks in and around the Kain hut the third week of July! Thanks, too, to JB and Kat who made it up from Kila and supplied some sinfully decadent snacks.

Post post-script: As my foot leather begins to peel away and my summer break tan starts to fade, I tend to get FOMO something terrible. I don't get out much and trips like these mean the world to me. In about a month I'll begin a new adventure. Version 2.0 is on his way and I probably won't have much time for the SuperTypo. Thanks to everyone who has checked out my trip reports over the last few years.

How soon is too soon to teach the secrets of a handjam?
How soon is too soon to teach the secrets of a handjam?
Credit: marty(r)

  Trip Report Views: 1,063
marty(r)
About the Author
marty(r) is a climber from beneath the valley of ultravegans.

Comments
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Oplopanax

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
  Aug 16, 2013 - 10:42pm PT
That last pic looks like a little OW technique would help.


Also,






































YOU'RE GONNA DIE!!!!!!!
Tony Puppo

climber
Bishop
  Aug 17, 2013 - 01:16am PT
Congrats on version 2.0. I hear they come with all apps pre-installed, you have a steep learning curve ahead.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Aug 18, 2013 - 04:47am PT
This is so rad & a nice sequel to part 1, with a great conclusion.


So are all the raps bolted on the BC? Do u need 2 ropes?!
Congratulations on a successful trip & being a dad too!
Jeff(m)

Trad climber
Pittsburgh
  Aug 18, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
Nice TR Marty. Good climb and memories, thanks!

RyanD - The raps down the NE side are bolted. It is worth spending the time to find each set of chains. We did it with a single 70m. The party following us rapped on a single 60m.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Author's Reply  Aug 18, 2013 - 10:14pm PT
On the rap, I'd just add that from the summit if you orient toward North Howser and consider that 12 o'clock, the "ridge" to rap down is about 2 o'clock. It's set to be done 30m at a time, but about six raps down you have to traverse a low-angle gully and the rope can get stuck. Also, there are apparently years when the bergshrund is so pulled away that you need to essentially rap into the maw then climb back out the opposite side with an axe and crampons. We just got lucky and went straight to level snow.

For other great BC reading, check out these links:
Beckey-Coonyard BITD (Reilly + Clint, photo rich)
Enlightened in the Bugs (Moacman 2010)
Vitaliy's Dream Vacation (2012)
Duct Tape Then Beer video

Also, the images I posted were doctored from originals by (I think) Corey Rich (Beckey image), Tom Frost (Chouinard image), and Jon Walsh (Inez on headwall image.) I'll buy them all a beer if/when I get a chance.
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
  Aug 18, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
Love the TR--especially the "photography!" And congrats on version 2.0!!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 19, 2013 - 01:21pm PT
Version 2.0 didn't disappoint. Reading this and Jeff's TR together makes me think you guys understate what you accomplished.

Well done!

John
RBracci

climber
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:15pm PT
Nice write-up, Marty. A great accomplishment and nicely done.

Congrats on the little one!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:44pm PT
Great write up,
I hope you find fatherhood most rewarding, I sure have!!!!
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