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Friday, July 25, 2014

Canadian Road Trip 5th stop: North Trapper Creek in the Bitteroot Mountains SW Montana

The only place in MT I had never been was NW MT. So Lucas and I took the scenic route down to Kalispell. We started by crossing the border into Eureka and found some breakfast. Then we went over to Lake Koocanusa and checked out Stone Hill. Next we drove down to Libby and then headed East towards Kalispell. Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai river are gems of Montana that I cant believe it took me 27 years to see! We found a beer or two and kicked a skunk with some friends in Polson before cruising down to Darby. Coming off our success in Canada, Lucas and I wanted to try and repeat an Alex Lowe route on the North Face of Trapper Peak. With no beta beyond 'the North Face of Trapper Peak' we hit the trail early with every piece of climbing gear we had. We ended up at the North Trapper Creek TH. A little over an hour, maybe an hour and a half up the trail (eating Huckleberries the whole way) we spotted a beautiful tower. Not only did it look big and solid but it also had the appeal of potentially unclimbed. So we walked up the hill and sent it in 8 stellar pitches. I remember yelling down at Lucas "you shouldnt have given me this pitch... its incredible!" but then on the next one he would yell down the same thing. There is no doubt in my mind we climbed one of the best 5.10 granite jam cracks in MT (and I have been in the Humbugs)! Of the 8 pitches, one went at 5.11, 2 at 5.10 and the rest were 5.9 to 5.8. We got to the top without seeing any trace of previous ascents so we were stoked thinking we just got a MT classic first ascent. BUT, on our 3rd rappel, Lucas found some really old webbing with a really old Chouinard oval beaner on it. Damn. We knew that was too good to be true! Oh well. Its was still an amazing experience and a perfect ending to a once in a lifetime trip with my best friend. Onsighting towers in the backcountry is the type of climbing level I wanted to reach and we did it.

The tower we climbed is about mid-photo. 
There she be.
We climbed straight up the South Face, diretisima style. 
Looking South towards the Trapper Peak massif.
We found an ice climb in July! 
Pitch 1.
Trapper Peak in the background.
A couple of pitches up.
THE BEST pitch! The 5.10 jam crack.

This looks like me sending one of the last pitches.

I think this was the 2nd to last pitch or somewhere thereabouts. Or was it the last one?

When we topped out, look at the tower that greeted us! There's a must do someday!

Yup, Thats a real place.
We made a cairn on the summit.
Looking up at the tower after we climbed it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Canadian Road Trip 4th stop(s): Lake Loise, Banff, Canmore

Since the weather was supposed to be crap the rest of the week in the Boos, we peeled off to Alberta for some more sight seeing. Our first stop was Lake Louise, one of 3 Blue Water lakes in the world. One of the other ones being Okoboji Lake in Iowa; my parents' stomping grounds. I had NO idea how touristy Lake Louise is. It was a turn-off. We got out as soon as we could after a few quick pics. Its such a pretty place and I dont blame a single tourist for being there but jeez! Next stop was Banff for a quick tour. I think this town is more fun in the winter? And finally we stopped in Canmore, home of the Alpine Club of Canada. We planned on staying there a while but after flipping through the guide book at a local store we were overwhelmed. Canmore is a trip in and of itself. We went to a couple of the local watering holes looking for other climbers but were unsuccessful. So back to the states we headed. We got a few miles from the border before we decided to cat nap. We had some objectives in the States that we wanted to see/climb so all was not lost.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Canadian Road Trip 3rd stop: The Bugaboos

We got to the bugaboos on a Sunday afternoon (I think). We ate some food in the parking lot, waiting for the temperature to go down. Two cutie pies from Calgary showed up and we made some new friends. They werent there to climb but they wanted a summit. They thought they could get up the East Post Spire so we told them we would try and help them up the next day. The very steep trail got us to Applebee dome in about 2.5 hours. To minimize environmental impact, everyone has to camp on the rocks. We knew the place was going to be busy but boy oh boy, finding a flat rock to pitch the tent on was tough. It stormed that night and the next morning but we managed to get a scramble in that afternoon; we got the girls to the top of East Post. They were thrilled! And so were we! How often to you get to take the prettiest girls in camp on an adventure they will never forget? We caught a lot of hell from the rest of the climbers in camp but they were just jealous. Two pretty girls really really stand out in a camp of climber bros. Later that day, after the girls left, Lucas and I scrambled (I call the last few feet free soloing) up the Central Crescent Spire. Our big weather window was the next day so we decided to go for the classic East Ridge of Bugaboo Spire. Turns out, thats what everyone wanted to do. So we changed gears and went for the famous 17 pitch Snowpatch route up Snowpatch spire. The books calls it 5.7.... if you can find the 5.7 the whole way. There is no doubt in my mind we did atleast 3 pitches of 5.10... in our approach shoes! It started snowing on us half way up the route. I had never been on such a committing route; there was definitely a point of no return. That means, there comes a point in the climb where it is quicker and safer to climb to the top than to bail back down. We didnt bring much gear and linked a couple of pitches so I think we did it in more like 13 or 14 pitches instead of 17. We were the only ones on it! 10 hours after leaving camp, or the col (I dont remember), we were on top (or back at camp?). Unreal. I overcame some personal battles in my head that made reaching the summit that much more amazing. Not an emotion I know how to put words to. The apex of my climbing to date. Matt Seagle was in camp sending some crazy aid routes free.
Laura and Lisa.
Awesome scrambling.
Looking over at Bugaboo Spire.
The final 'headwall'. I only call it a headwall cause it slowed down the none climbers. 
Snowpatch Spire on the left, Lucas in the middle and Bugaboo on the right.

We climbed just lookers left of the snowpatch the next day.

The Hounds Tooth and the Bugaboo Glacier. Nuts.

Looking up at the summit with a fellow scrambler standing up.
The top of Central Crescent.
"So you brought a rope to get down right?"
If you look hard you can see some climbers coming up 'Lions Way' with the McTette aret in the background.
We topped out on one of those.
Now we are on the Snowpatch route, maybe 5 pitches up? Lucas and I sent these low angle 70m pitches with no gear.

A couple of pitches from the top; post an amazing dihedral that was definitely not 5.7.
If that rope broke, I would go a couple thousand feet down....

Normally, I dont like finding hardware on routes. But when we found the rappel chains, we knew the climb was pretty much in the bag.
Pigeon Spire and the 3 Hauser Spires.
The rappel route. We simul-rappeled until my hands started to cramp and I needed a prussik back up.
Pigeon Spire. 
The rappel route goes right down the weakness.

The East face of Snowpatch with Matt Seagles port-a-ledge barely visible.
Porcupine defense system.

The Hounds Tooth is the first spire you see. 

The Kain Hut.

Cooking in the rain. I can boil water like its nobodies business!

Oh hi Prolite Gear! 

Coolest bathroom (or as the Canadians say: Can or Shitter) ever?
Applebee Dome.
Lucas polluting the water source.