Monday, December 1, 2008

The Bugaboos!!

Ever since Matt told me about his trip to the Bugaboos in May, I'd been itching to check it out. Steep, pristine alpine granite calls climbers like dinner bells call cowboys. I made up my mind that I'd go the first two weeks of December. I just needed to find a partner. I started by asking around work... Matt and Eric seemed pretty jazzed about the whole idea. Eric dropped off the face of the earth though, and I didn't hear from him all summer. Matt on the other hand, is fairly dependable, so we sorted out exact dates, and planned it out. Then Climbing did an article on the Needles down in California, and pretty soon, Matt didn't want anything to do with the Bugaboos. Yikes! That was a week before I wanted to leave! So I called Max, my trusty partner on Ingalls. A wild coincidence, the two weeks I had off for the trip happened to align perfectly with the time he had taken off to get prepped for school. Parfait!! So Max was in. I had my wisdom teeth pulled 5 days before we left, had helo-hoist training the next day, helped a friend move the next, worked the next two, and hit the road September 2nd. My parents had fixed us a huge dinner, so we didn't get on the road until almost 9. We drove almost to border crossing in Idaho, stopped at around 3 am, slept until sunrise in a gas station parking lot, and hit the road again. Once we were at the trail head, we wrapped the car in chicken wire, logs, and rocks... it looked like a demilitarized zone... no critter was getting past it! NO WAY, NO HOW! It took everything I had just to get my pack on... but we hit the trail. On the way in, we stopped at the Kain Hut to fix dinner. A storm blew threw as we ate... we lucked out! With the fresh snow, the trail was a little obscured, though, and we wandered until midnight at the elevation we expected to find Applebee at, with no luck. Finally, exhausted, we bivvied on a boulder, and shivered through a clear night. I woke up first, and low and behold, the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the Applebee toilet. It was a little embarrassing!! We were only a few hundred yards from where we wanted to be!! So we threw our packs together, and stumbled over. We found an awesome campsite, well protected from the wind, and right next to the critter boxes and gear tree. The weather looked like it was holding, and the baro pressure looked decent, so we made up day packs and headed up to the Bugaboo Snowpatch Couloir to do a little bit of Pigeon Spire recon. We made it 80% up the col before we found the bergshrund. It was 5 or 6 feet wide, and went all the way from Snowpatch to Bugaboo. Plus, the conditions weren't hot- it was 2' of packing peanuts consistency dry snow over black ice. No Bueno. With no snow or ice pro, we decided it was a bad idea and started back down. The wind had really started to pick up, though, and a heavy crust started to form. In the 3o minutes it took to descend the col, it went from blower snow, to thin, hardly noticeable crust, to breakable crust, to sometimes breakable crust. When we got down to the moraine, the weather system was still a ways out, and with the climbing day spent, we sat down, told stories, had an epic snowball fight, and then wandered back to camp for dinner. Day three we sat in the tent and waited out the system that had blown in the day before. Day four looked a lot like day three, but I pulled out Battleship, and we sharpened our elementary level "strategery". Day 5 was spent in the same fashion, day 6 we did a little bit of cragging around the camp. Day 7 we did McTech Arete, Day 8 we sat out weather. Day 9 we fired Westside story, and day 10 we went for Lion's Way with Tom and Micah. Then we headed out. The walk out seemed to take forever, and the packs seemed to weigh just as much as they did going in. Returning to the car was bittersweet. It had been such a great trip. We drove most of the way home, stopped for the night, and made it the rest of the way back the next morning, just in time for me to shower and run off to a friends wedding, with a hot peach cobbler for the potluck in one hand, and garden gnomes as a wedding gift in the other.

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