Sunday, July 26, 2009

Climbing in the Bugaboos

Woke up at 2:45am, brewed some coffee, loaded our granola bars and started our 3.5 hour approach to the Becky-Chouinard route on South Howser Tower in the Bugaboos Provincial Park located in British Columbia. The goal was to be back before dark.

Whenever you hear the words, "the goal was" you know it didn't go
as planned.

Let me start off by saying I finally went on a climbing trip without my video camera. It was a
shock to hike in somewhere without cords, batteries, laptop and my camera. Laura (my wife) and I decided it was time to take our first vacation together. We opted for the Bugs. I've always wanted to climb in the Bugs, the granite looks bomber and the climbs look amazing.

We warmed up on the Pigeon Spire, we got our alpine start. Left the boulder camp located
below the hut around 9:30am. It was a fun outing. The next day we left a little earlier 8:30am to climb the Northeast Ridge of B
ugaboo Spire. Maybe we got
off route a little to access the col because the guidebook says to scramble. We roped up for 3 pitches to access the co
le. The rock was super loose on fifth class climbing.

Once at the base of the route the climbing went super fast. I wish I would have taken the time to read about the traverse from the North to South summit. We did the tr
averse with a few rappels and some very exposed ridge traverses but made it back to camp just before dark.

We thought we hadn't had enough adventure yet and we really wanted a long day so we decided to climb the Becky-Chouinard route on S. Howser Tower. We took a rest day to figure a few things out and try to get some local beta from Sean Isaac who was in the cabin guiding.

As I mentioned earlier we were up by 2:45 and out of camp by 3:30am. We were doing very well getting
to the base and scrambling to the first pitch of the climb. There was a party ahead of us but by a few pitches and they motored on ahead pretty fast. We only saw them one other time throughout the day. The first ten pitches went very good. We were keeping a good pace and looking at our watch we knew we were going to be back at camp just afte
r dark....or so we thought.

Towards the upper pitches I decided to not read the topo description as closely and got off route on almost every pitch. We both started loosing
steam a little and next thing we knew we were a pitch from the summit and it was 9:45pm. Damn I thought. This sucks. Here we are with no extra clothing and we're about to spend the night on the summit of the South Howser Tower. I'm sure many people have done this but for me it was a very humbling experience. I've never been benighted on anything. To me this meant I failed. I didn't complete this route in a day and that was my goal.
This time was different though. I was up there with my wife. This is the first time I am doing a big climb without one of my regular "dude" climbing partners. I realized I had a lot more fun climbing the route with her. Sure, I would be at camp by now if I climbed it with a friend but now we get to experience the bivy together. I can't explain it much more but once I came to terms of being benighted I started laughing. We both started laughing once we decided to sleep on this exposed ledge with rocks digging into our hips and kidneys all night. Did we sleep? Not really. Did we freeze? Hell yeah we did. But we also made it down safely in the morning and in the end that's the success of the trip. You always want to come home from a trip.

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