Trip Report
"We have to buy chicken wire?" A Bugs TR
Sunday August 5, 2012 8:13pm
Never in a million years would I have believed someone, a little over three years ago when I first walked into Planet Granite, had they told me that my choice to walk into that old building with multi-colored plastic knobs all over the walls would lead to me purchasing a roll of chicken wire at a small hardware store outside of Vancouver. And yet, there I was.

Brian and I had spent just under a week in Squamish, and with rain rolling in, and the forecast for the Bugaboos showing at least one day with a bright yellow sun icon, we decided it was time to pack up and give it a go. Our schedules had brought us to Canada with two vehicles (and yes, the border agent gave both of us sh#t about “isn’t that a waste of gas, eh?”), and though my diesel wagon was clearly the winner on fuel economy, the 45km of logging road leading to the trailhead cried “take Brian’s truck” to us. We ditched my car with a friend who lived in the Vancouver ‘burbs, stopped by the aforementioned hardware store, and headed to Golden.

An aside about the trip to Golden – the skier in me hated driving right by Revelstoke with no sticks in tow, and no snow anyway. The climber in me felt guilty for passing by Mt Sir Donald and not climbing, but it would have to wait.

The road to the Bugaboos trailhead, as it turns out, could definitely have been navigated by my Jetta, but just ripping through it with a truck was much more enjoyable than me pussyfooting around the ruts would have been. I also didn’t have to suck it up and cringe as chicken wire was wrapped around my car, threatening the paint on a car that’s in far too nice a condition for any self-respecting climber to own.

While driving in, our excitement truly ramped up once we finally caught a glimpse of Snowpatch Spire! We’re there! The Bugs! Sure, we felt like idiots later when we saw the real Snowpatch and realized we were just looking at the Houndstooth – but man, that glacier!

Our first glimpse of the Bugaboos, from the road in.
Our first glimpse of the Bugaboos, from the road in.
Credit: SeanH

The glaciers in the Bugaboos, I might add, are definitely Planet Earth caliber. Until this trip, the only “glaciers” I had seen were those of Mt. Lyell, Shasta, and the Palisades. The gaping, cracked, blue-grayish fields enveloping the spires in the Bugs were certainly a sight to behold.

Brian having a look at the impressive Bugaboo glacier
Brian having a look at the impressive Bugaboo glacier
Credit: SeanH

When we finally arrived at the trailhead, we realized just how good an idea saving our chicken wire receipts had been. There’s a metric ton of it sitting in corrals for your use. The beta we had seen online suggested it was worth bringing your own, just in case. We decided that if you made it to the trailhead, and there wasn’t enough chicken wire sitting around to wrap your car, your best bet would be to turn around and go home…because there must be 500 climbers up on the glacier waiting to get on your route.

Our porcupine barrier
Our porcupine barrier
Credit: SeanH

It’s occurred to me at this point that perhaps I should have explained the chicken wire thing for readers not familiar with the Bugs (as I wasn’t) – the trailhead parking lot is apparently rife with porcupines with a taste for rubber. They’ll eat your tires and brake lines, if they can get at them. I sure would not want to have been the first person to make this discovery.

After a couple of hours of packing, fence building, and mosquito swatting, we were ready to go. The hike in is pretty straight forward, has good views, and goes at Class II A0 – there’s a fixed ladder on the route, along with some chains that I suppose are there for nervous day hikers. It took us just under 2 hours to get to the Kain Hut, where we stopped to eat lunch, and about another hour to hike the final 250m of gain up the to Applebee camp.

A couple of dorks just about to begin their hike.
A couple of dorks just about to begin their hike.
Credit: SeanH

Sean missing his opportunity to free the approach.
Sean missing his opportunity to free the approach.
Credit: SeanH

We got to camp around 6PM or so, and pitched our tent just in time for a raging Bugaboo storm to hit. It was probably the gnarliest storm I’ve ever been in, and included at least one lightning bolt that must have struck no more than 50-100yards from camp. Since we hadn’t had time to fully guy out the tent, Brian and I sat inside bracing the walls of our Trango, while in the tent next to us a certain North Face athlete was yelling like a cowboy, thoroughly enjoying the storm.

Applebee Camp
Applebee Camp
Credit: SeanH

Snowpatch Spire, just after the rain died down, around 9PM or so.
Snowpatch Spire, just after the rain died down, around 9PM or so.
Credit: SeanH

Our temporary home, in fairer conditions.
Our temporary home, in fairer conditions.
Credit: SeanH

The following day, the spires were wet, and enveloped in fog. It would not be a climbing day. Being a California climber, this whole concept of waiting for a weather window was foreign to me. By the end of the day, I had realized I’d probably never be able to handle the weeks of down time required to climb in Patagonia. To say I wished I had carried a book up with me would be an understatement. The weather was at least decent enough for us to do a quick reconnaissance hike out to the Bugaboo-Crescent col – and for two climbers to put up a 5.11 route right above camp, which provided a little entertainment. I spent the rest of the time memorizing the guidebook, and drooling over the Beckey-Chouinard topo. That TR will have to wait for next summer.

Finally, it was Sunday, 4:30 AM, the day the weather forecast told us would be our day. Neither Brian nor I had much trouble jumping out of bed, and about 45 minutes later we were on our way toward the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire. I’ve only done a handful of 50 crowded routes, but I can without a doubt say this one was super deserving of its spot. The early morning views from the glacier were fantastic, the spires themselves inspiring, and rock quality as good as it gets.

Early morning light hits Snowpatch Spire
Early morning light hits Snowpatch Spire
Credit: SeanH

Sean hiking across the Crescent Glacier
Sean hiking across the Crescent Glacier
Credit: SeanH

Our route, in all its glory
Our route, in all its glory
Credit: SeanH

As for the climbing itself, I’ll mostly just let pictures do the talking. I will however note our one big mistake – we opted to go with the tiny leader pack, big follower pack strategy. Not recommended! While all of the climbing was well within our abilities, pulling a few of the moves while wearing two axes, two sets of boots, a few liters of water, food, and extra clothing was less than fun. While I usually like this setup for longer multi-pitch routes, it breaks down when the followers pack starts getting as heavy as ours was. In the future, I’d just plan on having both climbers wear equal sized packs with their own gear. Not that it stopped us from sending :) Now for more pictures…

The NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire. The rope up ledge is easily visible in ...
The NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire. The rope up ledge is easily visible in the middle of the picture.
Credit: SeanH

The Vowell Group, I believe
The Vowell Group, I believe
Credit: SeanH

At the base of the third pitch
At the base of the third pitch
Credit: SeanH

Pano from the base of the route (Youtube)

Overall the route went smoothly. About midway up you encounter a few pitches of low 5th chimney systems. We bypassed the start of these at around 5.8, on a nice, splitter crack. I’m pretty sure I missed the spot where most takers of this alternate crack system traverse right back to the main route, and stretched it out to a horn/block type feature where I belayed up Brian. Definitely not one of my favorite belay spots, but it worked out ok.

A small surprise was the ridge traverse between the North and South summits. The book listed this as an “exposed 3rd/4th” traverse. That it was - Brian and I both deemed it “4th +”. There was definitely some serious exposure along the way, i.e. a nice straight shot down to the glacier on your left. I also hate to admit it, but I even butt scooted a couple moves where the ridge got pretty knife edged. It mellowed out though, and eventually we found ourselves on the true South summit – i.e. the Freedom of the Hills 7th edition cover.

Brian doing some ridge surfing
Brian doing some ridge surfing
Credit: SeanH

Sean on the traverse, Snowpatch Spire in the background
Sean on the traverse, Snowpatch Spire in the background
Credit: SeanH

Brian on rap near the North summit
Brian on rap near the North summit
Credit: SeanH

Brian, quite stoked with the climb apparently
Brian, quite stoked with the climb apparently
Credit: SeanH

Sean on the summit, with the Howser Group in the background
Sean on the summit, with the Howser Group in the background
Credit: SeanH

Summit Pano (Youtube)

Fortunately the weather was good enough that day for us to hang out and enjoy the mind-blowing views of Snowpatch, the Howser group, and the Vowells. Perhaps 6 rappels, and a lot of trodding down the 5.4/3rd class Kain route finally led us to the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. Here I found salvation in what might be the greatest “bathroom” I’ve ever used. I’ll just let a picture speak for itself, and say that I was glad to see it.

The Bugaboo-Snowpatch bathroom is a bit "exposed". Best views I've eve...
The Bugaboo-Snowpatch bathroom is a bit "exposed". Best views I've ever had while "taking care of business" though.
Credit: SeanH

From the col, one could make a few raps down and over the bergschrund, but having crampons and axes with us anyway, we opted to just down climb around it. It was definitely quite casual, as far as snow travel is concerned.

A party on their way back from Snowpatch, descending the col.
A party on their way back from Snowpatch, descending the col.
Credit: SeanH

We returned to camp, tired and quite pleased, around 8PM. Word had it that less than stellar weather was retuning, and it certainly felt that way as we packed up our things the next day for the hike out.

Cooking my victory dinner - who says the Reactor can't simmer?
Cooking my victory dinner - who says the Reactor can't simmer?
Credit: SeanH

Despite the fact that we only got to climb one route, visiting the Bugs was hands down one of the best experiences of a summer spent climbing. Brian and I were already discussing our eventual return as we descended down to the car, and I know I’ll be training to make sure the Beckey-Chouinard is on the list when we do. If you enjoy alpine rock climbing, and the Bugs aren’t high on your to-do list: bump them up, way up.

Alpine wild flowers along the hike out.
Alpine wild flowers along the hike out.
Credit: SeanH

How all good trips should end.
How all good trips should end.
Credit: SeanH

P.S. - A key piece of beta: Purchase Piche and Atkinson’s excellent guidebook, The Bugaboos, not the older Bugaboo Rock.

P.P.S. – In a month, you’ll probably see a longer, “better” Bugs trip report from this other Bay Area climber of Soviet (Ukranian? whatever) descent. It’ll probably have a bunch of shots of this creepy doll in it though, and he tries too hard. Plus we made it there first. :P

  Trip Report Views: 4,225
SeanH
About the Author
SeanH is a trad climber from San Francisco, CA.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
eKat

Trad climber
  Aug 5, 2012 - 08:18pm PT
You're not a couple of dorks!

:-)

TFPU!
SeanH

Trad climber
SLC
Author's Reply  Aug 5, 2012 - 08:25pm PT
eKat: Hah, I think it's mostly the glacier goggs that prompted me to write that. Thanks.
eKat

Trad climber
  Aug 5, 2012 - 08:35pm PT
RightOn.

Glad you had a good time up there. . . it's all of 3 1/2 hours from here and the one time I had plans to go in, I was getting over a torn rotator cuff and decided it wasn't a good thing to be slowin' down the party.

I'll get up there. . . someday!

:-)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 5, 2012 - 09:34pm PT
Schaweet!
Thanks
Love the porcupine wire!
BFK

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Aug 5, 2012 - 10:02pm PT
Nice work on the write up bro!
Some Random Guy

climber
  Aug 5, 2012 - 10:30pm PT
no, ur a couple of dorks :)
but then again i'm a moron so what do i know

awesome climbing! i'm jealous, i sorta had an opportunity to get there about 2 months ago but it didn't work out :(
just one other thing on the list......
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 5, 2012 - 10:34pm PT
SOOOOO JEALOUS! Nice TR. TFPU
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Aug 5, 2012 - 11:00pm PT
Nice. Thanks for taking the time to post this TR.
Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
  Aug 5, 2012 - 11:31pm PT
You brought back many fine memories for me. Thanks fellas.
jewedlaw

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Aug 5, 2012 - 11:47pm PT
Hi Sean, sweet TR.

We pulled on plastic yesterday! Howdy!

Tom
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Aug 6, 2012 - 12:02am PT

Great report and fun to read your writing!

I am glad to see that NE Ridge of Bugaboo is still an adventure.

We had a great time on it in 1975, with some weather delays.

With problems with route-finding and unexpected ice: we climbed the route, and did the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col downclimb on icy-snow in the dark, with one Chouinard axe, one headlamp, and one Chouinard Alpine Hammer for two of us.

We started at Bugaboo Hut at 2:00 A.M. and returned 24 hrs later.

Next day our friends followed a guided party up the route and did hut to hut in 14 hrs.

The fukers!

Sigh!

Credit: Fritz
SeanH

Trad climber
SLC
Author's Reply  Aug 6, 2012 - 12:29am PT
Hey Tom - Glad you liked the TR, and thank again for saving me from bouldering. Drop me a line if you're ever in need of a partner again.

Fritz - Sounds/looks like you had some spicier conditions than we did. Nice work.
sullly

Gym climber
  Aug 6, 2012 - 02:43am PT
Super shots and write-up.
bullfrog

Trad climber
  Aug 6, 2012 - 03:40am PT
Nice TR. Haven't been up there myself. Thanks for the porcupine beta.
Zander

climber
  Aug 6, 2012 - 10:33am PT
Great pics. Woo hoo!
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Aug 6, 2012 - 10:45am PT
Really beautiful stuff! Nice TR
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
  Aug 6, 2012 - 11:09am PT
TFPU
Les

Trad climber
Bahston
  Aug 6, 2012 - 11:10am PT
whoa ... my climbing partner gave me a Canadian Rockies climbing book as a gift for being the best man at his wedding, and since then I've been wanting to get up there. But now I HAVE to get up there! Nice report!
pile

Mountain climber
Lone Pine CA
  Aug 6, 2012 - 12:06pm PT
WOW that looks like a amazing place to bum around....Thanks for sharing! Great TR
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Aug 6, 2012 - 12:58pm PT
Awesome. Does anyone climb the Hound's Tooth these days? When we were there in '82 we did the first ascent of the north face of the Hound's Tooth - the right-hand side of the face that you see from the parking lot (your first photo).
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 6, 2012 - 01:42pm PT
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
tarek

climber
berkeley
  Aug 6, 2012 - 03:14pm PT
wow--thanks for taking the time, great tr.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Aug 6, 2012 - 03:27pm PT
Great stuff, and especially interesting about the porcupines!
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Aug 6, 2012 - 06:03pm PT
Woohoo! Thanks for sharing, Sean! I look forward to hearing about your upcoming attempt at the Beckey-Chouinard.
BarbieK1211

climber
Marblehead, MA
  Aug 9, 2012 - 06:53pm PT
Awesome photos and really good writing. I enjoyed reading it all albeit getting a few gray hairs!! You both rock!
just_one

Mountain climber
CA
  Aug 7, 2012 - 06:51pm PT
nice report! brings back fond memories for sure. i still think the whole porcupine thing is just a big joke. somewhere, there's a canadian laughing his ass off and investing in chicken wire companies!
hamik

Mountain climber
Pasadena, CA
  Aug 7, 2012 - 09:07pm PT
The Ukrainian's doll is a whiny pussy who never leads anything. Hopefully it'll man up in the Bugs... we'll see soon, hopefully.
BFK

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Aug 8, 2012 - 09:37pm PT
Hey Sierra Ledge Rat,

There is nothing in our guide describing any route on Hound's Tooth other than the class 4 routes to the top; but I was actually very curious if anyone had done a route on the face. It looks like there are some proud lines on it if you can navigate the ice falls/crevasses.

I'd be interested to hear more...

Brian
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Aug 8, 2012 - 11:37pm PT
Awesome!!!
jahil

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Aug 14, 2012 - 01:31pm PT
Wow that is one awesome TR !
steve
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Aug 14, 2012 - 03:41pm PT
What an epic trip fellas. Glad you guys had a blast and got back safe.
pc

climber
  Aug 14, 2012 - 03:55pm PT
Very nice!!! What a spot indeed!
Great going.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Aug 14, 2012 - 04:04pm PT
Really enjoyed your TR! Nice write up.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Aug 18, 2012 - 03:52am PT
Creepy doll sure liked the bugaboos. Piche guide rules. Nice tt Sean. Maybe we can talk about this place while pulling on green and red holds soon. Can't believe my vacation is also over. :(
tokeelectrons

Social climber
London
  Aug 18, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
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Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Aug 19, 2012 - 10:27pm PT
Here is Sierra Ledge Rat's summitpost page for his route:
http://www.summitpost.org/north-face/420441
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
  Aug 19, 2012 - 10:35pm PT
i still think the whole porcupine thing is just a big joke. somewhere, there's a canadian laughing his ass off and investing in chicken wire companies!
I slept in my van overnight in the bugs parking lot once. The porkies got me up several times as they gnawed on my undercarriage. Next morning my buddy (who was in his own vehicle with his SO) said he was surprised I didn't just shoot them.
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
  Aug 25, 2012 - 10:53am PT
I'm glad I was in the Bugaboos before you had to worry about chicken w...
I'm glad I was in the Bugaboos before you had to worry about chicken wire or porcupines....they hadn't discovered yet how delicious rubber is. My wife and I were up at Mineral King (Sierra Nevada) earlier this year, and we noted that some vehicles at the
Credit: pix4u
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
  Aug 25, 2012 - 11:09am PT
For some reason, the text I added on the photo didn't fully appear. What I wanted to say is that my wife and I were up at Mineral King (Sierra Nevada) in June of this year, and we noticed that even there chicken wire was placed around several vehicles at the trailhead. Word has spread quickly among the animal kingdom about the gourmet treats to be found on vehicles.
j-tree

Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
  Sep 10, 2014 - 10:52pm PT
bump
thebravecowboy

climber
hold on tight boys
  Sep 10, 2014 - 11:09pm PT
sighhhhhhhhh
NedMattiace

Boulder climber
new york
  Sep 14, 2014 - 10:37pm PT
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Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  Sep 11, 2014 - 04:02am PT
Enjoyed the TR and pictures. Thanks.





The_Hawk

Mountain climber
Asheville
  Sep 11, 2014 - 08:22am PT
On my list, nice little writeup and adventure. The Hawk approves.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Sep 11, 2014 - 09:40am PT
Back 30-35 years ago we didn't have any problems with rodents vandalizing our vehicles in the Bugs.

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